After the play, I took home the flower I had stuffed in the apron of my costume. My mother pressed it between two sheets of paper toweling in a dictionary, laughing as she did it that we were perhaps the only people who would press such a sorry-looking weed.
I often look back on our lunchtimes together, bathed in the soft midday light. They were the commas in my childhood, the pauses that told me life is not savored in pre-measured increments , but in the sum of daily rituals and small pleasures we casually share with loved ones. Over peanut-butter sandwiches and chocolate-chip cookies,first and foremost, means being there for the little things.
A few months ago, my mother came to visit. I took off a day from work and treated her to lunch. The restaurant bustled with noontime activity as businesspeople made deals and glanced at their watches. In the middle of all this sat my mother, now retired, and I. From her face I could see that she relished the pace of the work world.
Mom, you must have been terribly bored staying at home when I was a child, I said.
Bored? Housework is boring. But you were never boring.
I didn’t believe her so I pressed. Surely children are not as stimulating as a career.
A career is stimulating, she said. I’m glad I had one. But a career is like an open balloon. It remains inflated only as long as you keep pumping. A child is a seed. You water it. You care for it the best you can. And then it grows all by itself into a beautiful flower.