By Pauline Daley-Parril
1. Breakfast in Bed
It’s five minutes past dawn and you hear your kids banging cupboard doors down in the kitchen. Soon there will be syrup and pancake batter dripping from the walls, floors, countertops and overhead fixtures. Worse yet, you are about to be compelled to consume a plateful of cold pancakes that are burnt black on the outside while still remaining uncooked on the inside, all swimming in a bathtub’s worth of syrup.
The Hack: Quick. Hide the syrup. Give them a bag of chocolate chips and a package of paper muffin cups. Ask them to count all the chips into the cups. Tell them you would like a banana and twenty-thirteen chocolate chips for your breakfast. Ask Daddy to supervise. Hurry back to bed.
2. The Card
Did your kids spend all of 47 seconds last week pouring school glue and dropping pieces of macaroni onto a piece of heart-shaped construction paper? Now you have to store that adorable handmade creation at the back of your closet for the rest of eternity with the rest of the collection of Penne necklaces and pasta shell pencil holders, right? That proves you love them right?
The Hack: Feeding them proves you love them too. Boil up a large pot of salted water, drop in the collected works, put your feet up and wait till all the noodles are al dente. Drain, toss in a handful of shredded cheese and voila! An easy mother’s day dinner is served. Don’t forget the paper plates.
3. The Husband With a Poor Sense of Timing
The minute you launch the kids on their way with the bag of chocolate chips, guess who slides back into bed beside you with less-than-minty morning breath and rough unshaven chin? Did he just scrape/nuzzle the back of your neck and offer you a “steamy” Mom’s Day present in the shower?
The Hack: You do want your pillow back right? If you want to unpoke his tongue from your ear fast, tell him he is a sweet boy and then remind him to call his Mom today to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Point out that an early call might be bad timing as maybe his Dad is also giving his Mom a steamy morning kiss right about now too. Use descriptive adjectives to make sure he gets the picture. Then punch him playfully in the arm and cackle, “Aren’t you just a chip off the old cock?” As he begins to gag a little, mention that you just downed a handful of chocolate chips. Mistake! Aren’t they just ripping right through you! Yell “outta my way,” jump out of bed and hop towards the bathroom with your hands pressed against your backside.
4. The Spa Day
Did you get a gift certificate for a day at the spa? Nope, neither did I. Don’t let that stop you.
The Hack: Of course the answer is to book your worthy self in for the salt scrub flotation cabin, lotus glow massage and mani-pedi with truffles as soon as possible.
5. The Flowers
Every mother loves getting a gift of cut flowers right? Trouble is now you have to clip the stems properly on a 45 ° angle with a sharp florist’s knife, creatively arrange the blooms in a vase like the Pinterest people are watching, and change the slimy water everyday. As if you didn’t have enough to do. The baby is teething and the toddler is trying to flush the cat down the toilet and now you are in charge of freshening up those candy-pink Carnations.
The Hack: Fill a carafe with red wine and let it aerate for five minutes. If the baby is crying very loudly, feel free to skip the breathing step. Carefully arrange the blooms in the empty wine bottle. If you have too many stems, you may open a second bottle.
6. His Mother
There is no known hack for your Mother–in-Law. Deal with it.
7. Your Mother
In all the bustle and fun of enjoying your special day, did you forget to call your own mother to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day? I know. I forgot too. Kill me now.
The Hack: Google images to the rescue. Spice up your apology message with some links. Recommended search terms: “shirtless hot dudes.” “Old Spice Guy + snake. For a few blessed moments, she will probably forget that she ever had you. Of course you still owe her chocolate.
8. The Hugs and Kisses
Who needs to hack a Mother’s Day kiss and hug? It’s totally the best part. Take all the sweet squeezes and smacks that you can get—even if the chubby fingers are smeared with chocolate chips and the bearer of the lips still needs a shave.
Collette Yvonne has written more than 150 articles published in Ontario’s Dailies. Her short story, Snapshots for Henry, was made into a short film directed by Teresa Hannigan and received a 2007 Genie nomination for Best Live Action Short Drama. More of Yvonne’s short stories, including From the Cottage Porch and Wild Words 2010 appear in published anthologies. She is a graduate of Toronto’s York University with a BA degree in Creative Writing, creating both fiction and non-fiction works. Her latest novel, The Perils of Pauline was published by Astor + Blue Editions in January 2015. For more information visit www.colletteyvonne.ca
BUY LINKS FOR THE PERILS OF PAULINE
What better time of year than Mother’s Day to showcase some of the most memorable fictional mothers in some of the best new novels? From loving, supportive mothers to complex, trailblazing mothers to selfish, vindictive mothers, this list has it all!
1) The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White (Lake Union, July 2015)
Ella Fitzwilliam, the mom in THE PERFECT SON, quit a successful career in jewelry design to be full-time parent, mental health coach, and advocate for her son, Harry, who has a soup of issues that include Tourette syndrome. She has devoted 17 years of her life to his therapy, to educating teachers, to being Harry’s emotional rock and giving him the confidence he needs to be Harry. Thanks to her, Harry is comfortable in his own skin, even when people stare. After Ella has a major heart attack in the opening chapter, her love for Harry tethers her to life. But as she recovers, she discovers the hardest parenting lesson of all: to let go.
2) Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb (Plume, January 2015)
In RODIN’S LOVER, Camille’s mother, Louise Claudel, is spiteful, jealous, and disapproving of Camille’s pursuit to become a female sculptor in the 1880s. She also shows signs of mental illness. Because of this relationship, Camille struggles with all of her female relationships the rest of her life, and ultimately, to prove to her mother that she’s truly talented.
3) Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen (Astor + Blue Editions, April 2015)
In IMAGINARY THINGS, young single mother Anna Jennings has a unique power that most parents only dream of—the ability to see her four-year-old son’s imagination come to life. But when David’s imaginary friends turn dark and threatening, Anna must learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, what his friends truly represent, and how best to protect him.
4) The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister (Sourcebooks, January 2015)
In THE MAGICIAN’S LIE, Arden’s mother is remarkable both for what she does and what she doesn’t do. As a young woman, she bears a child out of wedlock and runs away with her music teacher, never fearing the consequences. But later in life, her nerve fails her—just when her daughter needs her most.
5) Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer (Putnam, 2014)
In FIVE DAYS LEFT, Mara Nichols is, in some ways, a typical mother: she loves her daughter fiercely, thinks about her constantly and goes to great lengths to balance her high-stress legal career with her daughter’s needs. But there are two ways in which Mara isn’t typical at all. First, she adopted her daughter from India, making good on a lifelong promise to rescue a baby from the same orphanage where Mara herself lived decades ago. And second, when Mara is diagnosed with a fatal, incurable illness that will render her unable to walk, talk or even feed herself, she has to make the kind of parenting choice none of us wants to consider—would my child be better off if I were no longer alive?
6) House Broken by Sonja Yoerg (Penguin/NAL, January 2015)
In HOUSE BROKEN, Helen Riley has a habit of leaving her grown children to cope with her vodka-fueled disasters. She has her reasons, but they’re buried deep, and stem from secrets too painful to remember and, perhaps, too terrible to forgive.
7) You Were Meant for Me by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Penguin/NAL, 2014)
In YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME, having a baby is the furthest thing from Miranda Berenzweig’s mind. She’s newly single after a bad break up, and focused on her promotion at work, her friends and getting her life back on track. Then one frigid March night she finds a newborn infant in a NYC subway and even after taking the baby to the police, can’t get the baby out of her mind. At the suggestion of the family court judge assigned to the case, Miranda begins adoption proceedings. But her plans—as well as her hopes and dreams—are derailed when the baby’s biological father surfaces, wanting to claim his child. The way she handles this unforeseen turn of events is what makes Miranda a truly memorable mother.
8) The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft (Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2015)
In THE FAR END OF HAPPY, Ronnie has hung in there as long as she can during her husband’s decline into depression, spending issues, and alcoholism and he will not accept her attempts to get him professional help. She is not a leaver, but can’t bear for her sons to witness the further deterioration of the marriage. She determines to divorce—and on the day he has promised to move out, he instead arms himself, holes up inside a building on the property, and stands off against police. When late in the day the police ask Ronnie if she’ll appeal to him one last time over the bullhorn, she must decide: with the stakes so high, will she try one last time to save her husband’s life? Or will her need to protect her sons and her own growing sense of self win out?
9) Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (Washington Square Press, 2014)
In YOUR PERFECT LIFE, long-time friends, Rachel and Casey wake up the morning after their twenty year high school reunion to discover they’ve switched bodies. Casey is single with no children before becoming an instant mom to Rachel’s two teenagers and baby. Despite her lack of experience as a parent, and her often comedic missteps with the baby in particular (think: diaper blow outs and sudden sleep deprivation) Casey’s fresh perspective on her new role helps her connect with each of the children in a very different way than Rachel. And when the oldest, Audrey, is almost date raped at her prom, it is Casey’s strength that she draws from an experience in her own past that ultimately pulls Audrey through. Although it is hard for Rachel to watch her best friend take care of Audrey when she so desperately wants to, she realizes that Casey can help her daughter in a way she can’t. And Casey discovers she might have what it takes to be a mom to her own children someday.
10) The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (Bantam, 2013)
Elizabeth Bohlinger, the mother in THE LIFE LIST, is actually deceased. But she still has a big presence in her daughter’s life—some may say too big! With heartfelt letters, Elizabeth guides her daughter, Brett, on a journey to complete the life list of wishes Brett made when she was just a teen. Like many mothers, Elizabeth has an uncanny ability to see into her daughter’s heart, exposing buried desires Brett has long forgotten.
Andrea Lochen is a University of Michigan MFA graduate. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Berkley, 2013), won a Hopwood Award for the Novel prior to its publication. She has served as fiction editor of The Madison Review and taught writing at the University of Michigan. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, where she was recently awarded UW Colleges Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her second novel, Imaginary Things (Astor + Blue Editions, 2015) is recently released and has garnered wonderful praise. With features on Barnes & Noble.com, Huffington Post, and Brit + Co., her work is being introduced to thousands of new readers. Andrea currently lives in Madison with her husband and daughter and is at work on her third novel. For more information visit www.andrealochen.com
Book Links for Imaginary Things:
Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.
Her hands were there to brush my hair, or straighten a wayward bow.
Her hands were often there to comfort the hurts that didn’t always show.
Her hands helped hold the stars in place, and encouraged me to reach.
Her hands would clap and cheer and praise when I captured them at length.
Her hands would also push me, though not down or in harms way.
Her hands would punctuate the words, just do what I say.
Her hands sometimes had to discipline, to help bend this young tree.
Her hands would shape and mold me into all she knew I could be.
Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,
Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.
Her hands are the reason I am me.
by Maggie Pittman