The Perfect Mother's Day

I have had more than one Mother’s Day spent trekking from one soccer field to another or schlepping diaper clad babies from parents to in laws.   Now, potty trained and in their teens, my boys tend to want to do their own thing.  This year was probably one of the top Mother’s Day celebrations I have ever had….bar none.  We spent the day at home and it started VERY early.

Son #2 felt the need to wake my husband up at 1am Mother’s Day morning because he had something “very important” that Dad needed to see in the kitchen.   My darling spouse sleeps like the dead….only louder.  Jarring him awake out of his comatose state initiates a lot of snorting noises that sound like a wild boar at the feeding trough and a few four letter words.  “Get up old man….I’m saving your ass.” I hear from the side of the bed.

Needless to say, I am awake.  I realize from the scent rising from downstairs that someone has been baking…….at 1 am.  When my husband returns to bed I ask him if there is a crisis like the dog eating the previous night’s dinner or a small kitchen fire.  There is no emergency.  I am told “You just have a nice kid.”

Son #1 needed to be dropped off at work at 7:30am for a 4 hour shift at his retail job.  I was hoping to use some Mother’s Day guilt that would allow me to stay in bed and have my husband do the driving, however, after the 1am kitchen call, he was back to making those Darth-Vader-meets-sinus-infection sounds.  So I used the patented, spouse approved, flip-and-poke method of “accidentally” waking him up.  He opened one eye and then the snoring got louder.


Admitting defeat, I got out of bed, walked into my bathroom and found this note next to a basket of muffins:


Now…..”Bojak” is not the given name I call my child.  It is some weird moniker he gave himself this past year.  The guys-only a capella group at school needed to make up t-shirts with their names on the back and he wanted to stand out as original so he changed his name to “Bojak”.  I only hope this is not some sort of permanent replacement of his Christian name that I gave about 7 months of thoughtful consideration to.  The bottom right of the notes says “These flowers may or may not have come from downstairs.”.  ….Well, they may.  My 30 year old nephew came by a few days earlier and gave my mother in law some flowers.  And as every mother of boys knows, once an item enters the house it becomes community property and should have no sentimental value to any one individual.  A few flowers were borrowed and placed in the basket.

Yes…it is the thought that counts.  And this one counted big because I loved every quirky, Bojaky, 1am muffin moment of it.

After dropping my son off at work, I headed off to church where I play the piano.  No one else went with me.  As I left the house everyone was scurrying around cleaning, there was a lot of yelling and even a few tears.  My husband was putting A LOT of thought into food shopping for his big culinary performance for my mother and my mother in law who would be joining us for dinner.

Let me precursor this Mother’s Day culinary adventure by explaining that for several days previous, my husband asked me several times how I envisioned my Mother’s Day.  I told him.  Nothing big.  I just want to have my mom and your mom over and you can throw something on the grill.  Our crack dealer meat guys (see previous post) had stopped by the office just a couple of days prior so he was all set with meat but he felt he needed to make a complete show of the side dishes and have a Korean BBQ theme to the meal…..and why not throw in a couple of lobster tails, some tofu and Szechwan hot sauce. This man makes less than 5 meals a year, however, each and every one of them must be a 5 star production that uses each and every pan and pot I own.  Ingredients, regardless of what is already obtained and in the house, usually total $200 and there is lots and lots of butter and a drink with rum in it.

I like butter and rum so it’s all good.

Before my church gig started, I had already received two calls from home looking for the car keys.  By the time I got back he was just returning from the store with all of the ancillary ingredients.  Then he sent me to the store for the 4 things he forgot.  All in all, the meal was fabulous.

We followed dinner with a game of Clue and a very entertaining game of Scattegories; that game where the spin of the dice gives you a letter and you have to come up with a word describing 12 different categories.  I discovered the word “douche bag” is a title, “genocide” can you get fired from a job and “overweight zebras” have stripes (indeed they do).

All in all….it was an absolutely perfect mother’s day.  I enjoyed the final hours listening to the dishwasher make its 3rd run of the day and reminiscing that this year, I wasn’t that mom that caught her toddler at the Mother’s Day brunch licking the carrots and then putting them back on the buffet line nor did I spend it in my car going from 40 miles north of the city to 30 miles south of the city for soccer games 1 hour apart and above all, I wasn’t alone at a spa or drinking bloody marys with the girls.

I spent it with a group of lovely young men (and one old one) and it was perfect.

Meat in Bulk

There’s a guy that comes by my office selling wholesale, restaurant quality meat out of his truck.  I know what you’re thinking… sounds a little fishy.  Who buys meat off a truck?  Well, I do.  I can tell you from experience that this meat is legit.  After all, this is Chicago and if you are true second city, you have to “have a guy” that sells meat.  I gotta guy. The stuff my guy sells is amazing, and he knows it.  He will gladly push you the first box of prime, aged, melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly marbled rib eyes for next to nothing because he knows you will come back, slobbering and crazed for more.  This has earned him his well deserved nickname……..The Crack Dealer.

Once he found out my husband and I were feeding a small army of carnivores he has just happened to “be in the neighborhood” about twice a month.  Just last week he came in to see if I needed anything.  Of course I am in dire need of hundreds of dollars worth of steaks, lamb chops, polish sausage and Kobe burgers.  What self respecting mother isn’t?  At the end of the workday I pull into the driveway, walk into the house and give the usual instructions:

Me:  “Hey guys, go empty out the back of the truck.  I have food in there to put in the freezer.”

Sons 2-4:  “Really?  Is it crack dealer meat???”

Me:  “Yes.  Lots of it.  And he threw in a 3 pound package of bacon.”

Chorus of boys:  “Yeessssssssssssss!”

Only then, as I hear those words of gratitude fall from the lips of my blessed little darlings do I realize I’m the only mother on the block that lets her children refer to anyone as “The Crack Dealer”.  I make a mental note to myself to lecture the boys over our dinner of marinated skirt steak about being very selective where they utter the words “mom knows a crack dealer”.

One thing is for sure, over the course of the last 18 years I have found very creative ways to feed the meat eating habits of six men.  The invention of wholesale bulk stores like Sam’s and Costco are something akin to a messenger of God telling me I have a meat tree growing in the back yard.  I am currently having conversations with one of my high school friends about buying one of her heritage pigs and giving the slaughter house my cut order.  I can make at least 15 different meals out of bacon alone.

One of the most telling signs of our meat eating addiction was several years ago when #4 was in pre-school and we had a family night at the school.  It was a craft project making table runners for our family Thanksgiving table.  You could bring in photos and they had cute cut outs of scrap paper to glue onto the runner that was then put through a laminating machine.  I gave all six of my men a paper leaf and wrote on the top “I am thankful for”.  I asked them to write in just a couple of words something they were grateful for.  Just like all the other families, my guys were grateful for “family”, “Uncle Herb”, “Grandma and Abuela”, all the usual suspects.  But my four year old was just learning letters and needed some help.  It was then he asked….

“How do you spell MEAT?”