If I Were a Mother

A little sage advice: Be careful what you say about yourself, because yesterday’s jest could be tomorrow’s character-defining statement.

Let me explain. Seventeen years ago, The One and I were invited for a wintry weekend in Washington, CT, long before we ever bought a home there. We were guests of our then brand-spanking-new friends, Matty and Janet R. Janet had worked with The One in real estate for a few years, but this was only the second time we were in Matty’s company.

How to describe Matty R? Born and raised in the Bronx, he could have walked onto the set of the “The Sopranos,” sat down alongside Sal “Big Pussy” BonpensieroPaulie Gualtieri, and Silvio Dante, and no one, not even the director, would have been the wiser. He says bootifull when he means beautiful. He’s all diamond pinkie rings, sharp suits, and combed-back hair. He hits the racetracks in Saratoga Springs, NY, and Baden Baden, Germany, in equal measure, and usually wins. Bottom line, had it not been for Janet, our worlds never would’ve collided.

Late one February night, after a dinner that The One and I cooked for them, I was complaining that I was tired of my advertising copywriting job.

“So, whassamadda? Do somethin’ else,” Matty said, as casually as if I were grousing that the ice cream parlor was out of my favorite flavor.

I paused.

“Whadda wanna do wit ya life, kid?”

And without so much as a millisecond of hesitation, out came the words (and from where, I know not), “I want to lie in bed in pink fluffy slippers and eat bonbons all day.”

He paused. Then he burst out laughing. No, not laughing: wheezing. Matty has a high, fatally infectious, hyena-like wheeze. Then we were all laughing. And from that night, I have never been allowed to forget my off-handed comment. So much so that I’ve been given boxes of bonbons over the years, and even fluffy slippers. Mercifully, none pink–and thankfully not a marabou mule among them.

What does all this have to do with Mother’s Day, you ask? A lot. I think any time Hallmark and local bakeries conspire to make a special day for you (in order to make money for them), from birthdays to bridal showers, it’s a cue to indulge. And to me, the height of indulgence is lying in bed with a big box of candies, preferably Teuscher, watching “The Today Show,” “Modern Family,” “Glee,” and my new favorite, “Body of Proof.” Slippers optional.

And that’s exactly what I’d do on Mother’s Day, if I were a mother and had my own brood. I’d make it clear to all who could hear my voice (pets included) that this is my day. And my day requires that all whom I’ve spent the past 364 days catering to suddenly turn into my flunkies. “Bow down unto me!” I’d bellow, and take delight as they genuflect at the foot of my bed, watching their heads slowly, recalcitrantly drop, revealing the Antarctica-shaped bald spot of The One and the unruly cowlicks of my progeny.

I’d order up a menu the likes of which had never been seen or eaten in my bed—everything made by them and presented unto me.

I’d start with a mother of a Mother’s Day drink, maybe a Champagne cocktail. Or if I wanted to eat my cocktail, I’d opt for Grapefruit in Moscato. If I were in a breakfast-y mood, I call out for Sunday morning pancakes or eggs Benedict. Maybe even both. In the very likely event that I lolled in bed past noon, I’d place an order for Lyonnaise salad, making sure my little ones left nary a gossamer veil of white hanging from the poached egg. Pea Shoots and goat cheese salad could feature prominently, if I were counting calories. But why would I? It’s my day. And on my day, physics wouldn’t deign to bore me with anything as trivial as calories. Which is why risotto alla Milanese would never be out of the question.

Then there’s dessert. Nothing would be more fitting for Mother’s Day than Peanut Butter-Pretzel Bonbons and Nutella truffles. All I’d need is Matty, my own personal wise guy, feeding them to me to make it bootifull.

Click here for more Mother’s Day recipes.
The word "David" written in script.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I love love reading what you write…….I hear your voice and see your exuberance and giggle. On “MY” day I would choose your “Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie with Ginger Crumble,” as I also would as my last meal…..yes, meal….I would consume the whole thing before my last breath. That is the very best “slap yo Momma” dessert.

  2. Funny and so brilliantly written! Real mothers or not – I always feel a tinge on this day since I’m a (cruel?) stepmother – those of us on the periphery can still dare to nurture in our own ways, dream a little, and celebrate all that makes us feel bootifull!

    1. Joana, you do make the world bootiful with your marvelous art. (Everyone, check it out!) And cruel? Nah. Can’t believe that.

      1. Your comment made my day, David! Let’s just say that life hasn’t exactly turned out how I expected (but then again I doubt anyone says “when I grow up I want to be stepmother.”) Like you, though, I’ve been fortunate to find The One so I wouldn’t change a thing! 🙂

        1. So happy, Joana! I don’t think there’s a single person who thinks life has turned out as she expected. Some part are waaaay better and other parts are, well, crappy. As they say, “That’s life.” The good thing is you have your The One to stumble through it all.

  3. I’ve been disappointed too many times to expect any of those things. I have to ask, did you do any of those things for your mother?

    1. Lee, sorry to hear you were disappointed. Yes, I did do many of those things. I’ve cooked for my mom, made her handmade cards, put on shows, orchestrated a surprise party, popped in unannounced (I live 4 hours away), and a bunch of other stuff. Not all on Mother’s Day because I can’t always get up there every year.