Column: A mother knows best

Marny Stebbins

I lie to my children on Mother’s Day.

While I would like nothing more than to breeze into a restaurant for a Mother’s Day brunch buffet in a floral sundress with a train of well-mannered children and a stress-free husband, and gracefully sink my teeth into a slice of airy Mediterranean quiche, I know better.

I know buffets aren’t conducive to well-mannered children, or well-mannered adults. I know that despite access to artistic fruit sculptures and made-to-order crepes, my children will seize the opportunity to devour mountains of bacon and doughnut holes. Sometimes wrapping the doughnut holes in the bacon. Twice.

I know dining at a buffet means booth-jockeying and that as soon as I sit down I will either get a lap full of hot coffee or a wayward heel in my thigh as a child scales my body like an oxygen-deprived Everest hiker. Or, in our case, lemon bar-deprived.

I know “accidents happen” when one sprints across the restaurant with a plate of slippery sausages, and I know, with regret, that crab cakes look an awful lot like mini-muffins. We discovered my husband is allergic to seafood, before and after it is spit out onto an extraneous plate.

I know it is difficult to take turns with the hash brown tongs and nobody ever means to lick the chocolate mousse serving spoon. We all know (as in the entire downtown district) the heat lamps are, in fact, hot to touch.

I know I will spend more time in the bathroom fixing my youngest daughter’s “too tights” than seated at our table. I know the auto-flush toilets will cause more distress than the tornado siren tests the first Wednesday of the month.

I know we will have enough juice cups at the table to perform Beethoven’s 5th with our spare cutlery, and I know nobody ever drinks the cranberry cocktail. Ever.

As a seasoned mother of four, I can tell you with confidence that access to a buffet, breakfast or not, is really about the self-service ice cream machine and woe is he who tries to “help” a 7-year-old turn off the stream of ice cream before it’s four layers deep. With a curl. It appears, the same children who can’t bend over to tie their own shoes are surprisingly self-sufficient when at the helm of a Nordic-Stream soft serve dispenser.

I know my husband cannot shield his disgust with a $180 bill for breakfast. Even if it also counts as lunch. Because he is kind man, he will stifle his complaints with a complimentary peppermint and walk, with purpose, to the nearest exit without making eye contact. On Mother’s Day, he will endure the inflated gouge. All bets off any other day of the year.

I know the conversation at the table will revolve around “personal space” and creative doughnut anatomy. I know the table next to us will hear every single colorful word.

Because I know these things and because what I really want is a lazy morning with giggling kids and a cup of good, strong coffee, I told my children I can’t wait to have my favorite breakfast on Mother’s Day: Sprinkled Strawberry Pop-Tarts.

Keep it sweet and easy, mamas, and enjoy what makes it special: each other.

Marny Stebbins lives in Stillwater with her husband and four children. She is a staunch believer in early bedtimes, caffeine enhancement and humor therapy.