I am practicing creative visualization.
I am imagining in my mind's eye the perfect Mother's Day. They say you can create what you want in life just by concentrating on it. And I hope they're right - whoever they are - because the perfect Mother's Day has eluded me for 24 years.
I am picturing myself in a new robe on a lovely Sunday morning. There I am, sitting on the porch swing, surrounded by pillows. I have lost 10 pounds overnight, and my eyes are bag-free. (Hey, if you're going to visualize, visualize big.)
My son comes over early to cook my breakfast. He is clean and freshly shaven. His clothes are pressed with no visible stains or bar odors from the night before. And that new haircut!
Good morning, Mother Dear, he says. May I freshen up that coffee?
Why, how lovely of you to ask, son! Yes please. And a little more cream?
Then my daughter comes downstairs. She has arrived home from college the day before. Her face is scrubbed and glowing, with no traces of yesterday's mascara. A stylish barrette holds the hair out of her eyes.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! May I rub your feet?
And just when this visualization is really getting good, I trip back to the ghosts of Mother's Days past, who remind me of those Sundays in May that started with hope and joy, then turned into unmitigated disasters.
Flashback to Mother's Day 1984: We are at my mom's house, celebrating with my four siblings. My 3-year-old son is on his fourth lap around the room at 45 mph. Suddenly, he trips over someone's foot and lands face-first on the corner of the coffee table. A flurry of blood-curdling screams, clean towels and frantic calls to the plastic surgeon ensues. I spend Mother's Day night in the emergency room watching the doctor sew up my little boy's cheek. I can still feel the wrench in my stomach.
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Mother's Day 1985: I am on antibiotics and painkillers thanks to the second of two infections resulting from the C-section that produced my daughter.
At first they thought someone might have left a sponge inside me. Now they think it's a uterine suture that failed to dissolve. Either way, I'm a train wreck. But my daughter's tiny face and my son's handprint in a plaster of paris heart, along with the Demerol, ease the pain.
Fast forward through years of less-than-perfect Mother's Days. The year we waited two hours for brunch because someone forgot to make a reservation. My daughter's ill-timed chicken pox. That time we spent at a softball tournament in sweltering heat. (Note to Little League organizers: NO GAMES ON MOTHER'S DAY!)
Then in 1999, the day after my son's high school prom, his father finds a speeding ticket and assorted contraband in his car. We spend the day fighting about how severe the punishment should be. I waffle between no driving privileges for life and full holiday amnesty.
And try as I might to block these memories from my mind and envision a picture-perfect Mother's Day fantasy, I know the reality will go something like this:
My son comes over at noon. He hugs me. He smells of JÃ¤ger bombs, and I suspect he has slept in his clothes.
Hi Mom. Happy day! Got anything to eat?
I think there's some brisket in the fridge. Do you want me to heat it up for you?
Then my daughter comes downstairs, groaning. I can barely glimpse her raccoon-like eyes under the mop of her hair.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Would you rub my neck? I think I slept funny.
As I massage her shoulders and warm up my son's leftovers, I realize that this Mother's Day, like the 23 that came before it, is perfect after all.
And I wouldn't visualize it any other way.
- Cathy Hamilton is host of "Home & Away" on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 and a 50-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.