Archived Opinion

Tammy deserved better

Mother’s Day was probably not everything Tammy had hoped for.

She may have had visions of sleeping in until 9 or even 10 a.m., then being served breakfast in bed: cinnamon and apple muffins, a western omelet, a medley of fruit, piping hot coffee, and a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

She would be able to savor each bite of this delicious breakfast in bed while watching a “Will and Grace” marathon, uninterrupted by crying children or their father, whose very best intentions wouldn’t count for much if he had to barge in every 30 seconds with another question, each falling upon the last with increasing urgency: “Honey, where is Jack’s pacifier?” “Sweetheart, Kayden told me you always give her gummy worms right after breakfast — should I give her some?” “Muffincakes, Jackie just pooped his pants and I can’t seem to find the wipeys — do you know where I might find one, or should I just take him outside and hose us both off?”

No, on this Mother’s Day, Dad would have his poop together, if you will, and would be a paragon of parenting, completely able and independent. The kids would have long since been up and dressed, would have already eaten their nutritious and well-rounded breakfast, would have been rousingly entertained and intellectually stimulated by ever-resourceful dad, and would now be quietly playing in their rooms. After mom finished her breakfast, she would be surprised in the parlor by streaming crepe paper and homemade posters declaring her supremacy and general excellence in all things motherly. She would be directed to take a seat as Kayden presented her with the first of many gifts she would be receiving today. There would be candy and flowers, of course, a gift certificate for a day-trip to the spa, an IOU from daddy for a dinner for two at Chef’s Table, and other delights. Pictures would be taken, the camcorder would be whirring, adoring children would be connected on either side of her like vacuum cleaner attachments while dad recorded the whole thing for posterity.

A good while later, after her long, luxurious bath and two solid hours of “girl time” in the bathroom as the children are taking their naps and dad is cleaning the entire house, the entire family would go on a picnic, probably on the lake, or near a waterfall in some idyllic spot. They would spend the rest of the day playing and relaxing, and mom would be pampered and catered to every minute of it.

It is hard to say exactly what Mom had expected. Probably not something as flawless and thorough as the scenario laid out above — maybe a bowl of Raisin Bran instead of the omelet/muffin/fresh fruit breakfast, and maybe a trip to the Olive Garden instead of a picnic? But one thing she certainly could not have expected was for dad to get sick, so sick, in fact, that he split most of Saturday and all of Saturday night and early Sunday morning either in bed or in the bathroom, not sleeping at all. She did not expect him to have a fever of 102 degrees, to be virtually incapable of performing even the most simple of tasks.

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In short, she did not expect, on this Mother’s Day, to have a third child, one even needier and more helpless than the other two. So on this Mother’s Day, mom not only had to tend to the children — and without any help at all from dad — she had to tend to dad as well. On top of everything else, she had to go outside and dig a trench halfway around the house for some plumbing work we are having done this week, a job dad had planned to do on Saturday but couldn’t, since getting in and out of the tub was about all the exertion he could handle.

All of this, Tammy did, and without a whimper of protest, or the slightest trace of disappointment. You have probably seen those T shirts that read, “My Mom went to Hawaii for vacation and all I got was this lousy T shirt.” Well, how about this one: “Dad went to bed for Mother’s Day and all Mom got was this lousy column?”

Then again, why wouldn’t next Sunday make an excellent Mother’s Day? I’d better get busy finding that recipe for western omelets. Now, where does she keep those blasted wipeys?

(Chris Cox is writer and teacher who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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