I am half-sleeping when I hear my bedroom door open. From my perch in partial dreamspace, I suspect it is my youngest son, Gavin. He opens it more quietly than his father does. His brother, ever more quiet, is at a sleepover.
Then the door closes. And I hear nothing. I wait a moment. Then open my eyes. And there he is. Standing beside my bed. Looking at the things on my nightstand. Gently touching them. Quietly hoping that I will awaken. Knowing he shouldn’t wake me. Balancing himself. Delicately. Sensitively. Between desire and compassion. He is six years old.
He pretends not to notice that my eyes are open.
“Well, hello there,” I say.
He smiles. His brown eyes brighten. Grow larger. He jumps up on the bed. Snuggles on top of me. Hugs and kisses me.
“Hi Mommy! Happy Mother’s Day!”
“Thanks, my beautiful.”
His father is downstairs. He has me all to himself. His face is full of love and anticipation.
“What’s Daddy doing?”
His mind wanders down to the kitchen. He hops off the bed, following it back down there.
I am alone. Awake. In my bed. In Mexico. On Mother’s Day.
Chachalacas are calling their brass-section gurgling call outside. I open the French doors and walk out onto the terrace to see them. I expect them to be in the mango tree. But, they are not. They are somewhere in the neighbor’s tree. Out of my sight.
I leave the doors open and climb back into my canopied bed built from palapa wood. The fabric gently sways in the breeze. I close my eyes again.
Moments later, Gavin returns. I open my eyes. He is holding flowers in a small water glass. Flowers whose names I don’t know. In any language. One is pink, from the plant he and his brother chose at the nursery. And purple from one I chose. He offers the flowers to me. His hands smell of rosemary.
“I picked the purple one because I know you like purple.”
“Thank you, Sweetie Pie.”
I take another kiss.
“Your hands smell like rosemary,” I tell him.
He smiles. Seen. Witnessed.
“Rosemary and basil,” he says, smelling his hands. “We are using them in your breakfast.”
Suddenly remembering my breakfast, he leaves again.
I pick up my cell phone on the nightstand and call my husband in the kitchen. He answers, knowing it is me.
“Yes, hello. Happy Mother’s Day. Were you calling to order room service?”
“Yes, please,” I answer.
I hear Gavin in the background.
“I want to do it, Daddy!”
“Oh, right. Just a moment please Ma’am.”
He hands the phone to Gavin.
Gavin says, “Hello?”
“Yes, I’d like to order eggs.”
“Eggs,” he repeats.
“Cheese and coffee.”
“Okay,” he says.
I can hear the hesitation in his voice.
“Did you get all that?”
“Eggs. Bacon. Coffee…”
”And cheese,” I say gently.
“Oh, yeah. Eggs, bacon, coffee and cheese.”
Then I hear Robert in the background. “Ask her what room number.”
“What room number?” he giggles.
“One,” I say.
“Okay, okay,” he says.
Flustered by his new role as room service waiter, he hangs up.
A few minutes later, he walks into my room again. I see his smile. He holds a notebook. A page of inch-tall letters. Capitals mixed with lower-case. My order written out in his hand. Brown eyes sparkling. I tell him, “It’s perfect.”
“I wrote it with this hand,” he says, holding up his left hand.
“No, wait, I think I used this one,” now holding up his right.
I notice that cheese is missing from his list. I know he’s looking for another task as my breakfast cooks. Another excuse to leave and return again. A way back to the adventure that is the journey from my room down to the kitchen.
As he walks out into the hallway, I notice, for the first time, that he is naked. Jaybird naked. I want to reach out into the hallway and cup my palms on those love handles of his.
Soon, he reappears with the notebook. Cheese written clearly at the top of the list. An e and a d written by my husband in the top right corner of the page.
“Daddy wrote those for me and I copied them.”
He is pleased with himself. Lingering for awhile. He dances at the foot of my bed. Then goes and gets his stuffed animals and blankets for me. I hear my husband calling from downstairs as he walks back into the room with more stuffed animals.
“Is Daddy calling for you?”
“I think he is saying ‘Peter,’” he says, on a momentary visit from his mind’s meanderings.
“Could he be saying, ‘waiter’?”
“Oh, waiter,” he giggles and walks out the door, still laughing.
I quickly grab the cell phone and call down to my husband again.
He answers. “Casa Coati. How can I help you?”
“Hi, I ordered room service.”
“Yes, Ma’am, it will up in just a moment.”
“Thank you. I was wondering if I could request to have that delivered by the naked waiter.”
He laughs, I have taken him by surprise. A real accomplishment, after all these years. I can hear in his response that by now the short naked waiter is standing next to him. He doesn’t want to break the spell.
“Yes, Miss Svendsen. I will be happy to send the same waiter up with your breakfast.”
Moments later, Gavin appears with a plate. Bacon. Cheese. Eggs. Green salsa. And a piece of basil, three petals centered perfectly on the eggs. The basil he picked from the garden.
He hands it to me and jumps up on the bed.
“Do you want a bite,” I ask.
“No, I’m going to have toast with butter.”
I suddenly remember the white bread his brother pirated into the house on an unattended trip to the tienda yesterday. He’s probably been thinking of that white bread all morning. He looks expectantly at me and, then, my eggs.
“Daddy’s cooking the toast for me.”
“Do you want me to wait?”
“Okay!” I have read his mind.
“Should I just take one bite before you go,” I ask.
“Yes! I’ll share some of my toast with you!“
‘Thanks, sweetie!” I say.
I smile. Pause. Then remind him that I can’t eat bread.
“Gluten,” he says.
“What if I bring you a hamburger bun to make a sandwich with your eggs?”
“Gluten,” I smile.
“Is there something else you could use to make a sandwich?”
“I could use a tortilla.”
He runs out of the room. Returning a moment later with the large wooden tortilla container. I suspect it was his idea to put the tortillas in there.
He leaves again and I look into the container. It holds three warm tortillas in a paper towel. I sneak a small bite of my cooling breakfast.
He returns quickly with his Dad holding a plate of buttered white toast. The butter, melting in pats in the center. His face is bright as he jumps up on the bed. His father hands him the plate. “Here you go, Peter.” Gavin giggles. He bites into his toast as he watches me eat my eggs.
No longer my naked waiter, he is my son again. Sharing our love through food. I sense a timeless ancestry. A forever of mothers and sons eating together.
The song that’s been there since Friday comes back into my head. I sing. “Mama, me quiero decir te amo.” It is the song my older son’s class sang at the Mother’s Day Celebration at school on Friday. He accompanied them on the guitar.
“I heard you singing that song when I was walking upstairs,” Gavin says. “It made me want to drop my plate.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Like when Angie draws a picture and it is so beautiful that I drop my crayon.”
“You mean the song sounded so beautiful you wanted to drop your plate?”
After awhile, Gavin and Robert return to the kitchen. I am alone in my room admiring the beautiful view of my neighbors’ palms and cobalt windows. The door suddenly opens and there he is. My long, wavy-haired almost eleven year old musician back from his sleepover.
He jumps up onto the bed as if he hasn’t seen me in days. Puts his head on my stomach and hugs me.
“Happy Mother’s Day!!!”
He turns his face up to me, shining those same beautiful brown eyes up at me. His birthday is next week. Born a week late, he was due on Mother’s Day eleven years ago. He lifts my shirt and kisses my belly and puts his face on it, kissing me some more. I inhale. Trying my best to memorize this feeling. The unselfconscious embrace of my fast-growing son.
After a minute or two, he stands up again. Walks out onto the terrace for a moment and returns. Last night was a sleepover where the mother was going to be out for an hour. Before he left, I had asked him if he would feel comfortable alone in the house at night. He had told me it would be fine because he had the number for the police on speed dial.
So, I asked. “How was your sleepover? Did you call the cops on speed dial?”
“Yes,” his face brightens mischievously. “This guy was banging on the door trying to break it down.”
“Really?!” We both know I am playing along.
“Yeah, and all the guy wanted,” he says, glancing at the flowers on my night stand, “was a flower to bring home to his wife.”
“Mama, me quiero decir te amo,” I sing, reminding him of how proud I am of him for his guitar performance on Friday. In front of the entire school, holding down the performance with his smooth chord changes, learned in a week’s time. And the beautiful poem he handed me before he began. By the third line, I was sobbing. It read,
When you are waking me up from school, you are my Mom.
When you are working on the house with Dad, you are my dad’s wife.
But when you are singing, you are something else…
I sing again.
“Mom, it’s ‘te quiero’ not ‘me quiero.’”
“Oh, it is?”
“Yeah.” Rolling out the vowels in that special way only a pre-teen can do.
“Me quiero decir te amo.” I sing.
He smiles. Rolls his eyes. Walks out of the room.
And there I am.
Sipping my room-service coffee.
Served by a short, naked waiter named Peter.
Appreciating my life.
My two boys. Their deep dark brown love-filled eyes from their father.
I am so grateful for this family of mine.
And this beautiful room I am viewing it all from.
I am full. Of love.
A mother. Embraced by blessings.
On Mother’s Day.