We'd just finished a great Mother's Day lunch at Rich Melman's original RJ Grunt's. Their ever-sumptuous salad bar was perfect and plentiful. The Gruntburger was cooked to perfection, hot, juicy and just the right amount of char. So were the delicious homemade potato chips that accompanied the burger.
In the two weeks following my Dad's death at the age of 91 on April 30, Mom has had two occasions that were always marked by special recognitions from Dad: Her birthday on May 6, and Mother's Day were always celebrated with worshipful poems and sometimes a song, telling her how much she was loved and cherished as his wife, partner, best friend and mother to their children.
After 57 1/2 years together, she was facing these two major celebrations alone for the first time.
My partner Ted and I were poor substitutes for Dad's undivided, unmatched attention, but we were making the best of the situation by trying to have the perfect Mother's Day meal, at a place where she hadn't been before.
Our plan was working just great. Mom basked in the glow of the special attention, the delicious food, and the love that we could provide for her. The smiling waitress brought over their special Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae, oozing chocolate fudge, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream atop a giant, warm chocolate chip cookie. Mmmmm.
We exchanged gifts. I had gotten Mom a stuffed teddy bear sitting in a garden of silk roses, with "I Love You" written across his chest.
She gave me a beautiful, carefully chosen Mother's Day pet-card celebrating my status as a Dog-Mom to Duke, the 65-pound lab-terrier bundle of joy that I had written about in my last Token Female column.
After our plates had been cleared, our waitress came to our table. She presented an envelope (full of coupons for visits to several Lettuce Entertain You restaurants) to Mom, and asked me "Are you a mom, too?"
I said, "I'm a dog mom. Does that count?"
Her smile wavered a little bit, and said, "Ohhh, I don't think so. I'm sorry."
The waitress left the table, quickly.
Mom, who couldn't hear what the waitress said, but noting the changed expression on my face, asked "What's wrong?"
"I guess I don't count as a mother," I said. "At least according to Lettuce Entertain You standards."
Mom was indignant. "Of course you count," she seethed. "Little Dukey wouldn't be here today if you didn't feed him or take him to the vet. You deserve the gift certificates. Get her back over here."
"Naah. I don't want to make a big deal out of it, not now," I said. "I want you to have a good time."
"I have a better time when you have good time." Mom insisted.
The waitress, having delivered her final cups of coffee, the bill, and the lone gift to the Mom they would recognize, never returned.
But I thought about it later. It was not so much about the gift certificates, but as how I was written off as "not counting" as a member of the society of mothers.
As I discussed in my previous post, I am not childless by choice. I am childless because I could never get pregnant. And my ex never wanted to adopt or foster. But I love to nurture. I love to care for others.
Therefore, Duke is as much of a child for me as a baby is to his mother. I will be a poop-scooper for all of his life. I will always take him to a vet and make sure that his health and well-being are intact. I make my boy feels as loved and nurtured as much as any mother loves and nurtures her child.
So I ask why then, WHY can't pet parents be recognized as the nurturers they are, and given proper respect or credit?
And finally, what do you think? Do I, and other pet parents, deserve credit and recognition on the same Mother's Day that is celebrated worldwide?