Small Wonders: A place only mothers could love


Can't live with them. Wouldn't exist without them.

Because asexual reproduction works only with certain species of frogs and turkeys.

But beyond the biological oddities and the curious need to take away my drinking glass before I'm done with it, I still can't figure you mothers out.

Seriously. You get one day a year to be pampered and served, given your choice to do anything you desire, and what do you want?

I asked some of you, and here is what I heard back.

Pam's ideal Mother's Day starts with, "Breakfast-in-bed prepared and served by my children."

Then it gets better. "I hope this year they add peace, quiet and respect for their parents ... ALL DAY LONG."

Carol had a similar thought.

"I would like a day of peace. Anything that would contribute to that is good. No pressure, no having to tell anyone else what to do, no sibling fighting, no house cleaning, no running around to do errands. Takeout, eat at Deukmejian Park, and then Netflix works very nicely."

Note to Pam and Carol's husbands: If you can't find an anesthesiologist who makes house calls, try a double dose of recreational Benadryl for the little ones.

"When the girls were growing up," Cheryl told me, "I asked for the same thing each year — the day off to do whatever I wanted. Sometimes that meant them helping me plant flowers, work in the yard, etc. They hated it but did it anyway. Today, in my perfect world, I would love all of us to be together on a bright, sunny day having a picnic, playing games and laughing. It couldn't get much better than that."

Dana added, "The only thing I want for Mother's Day is to spend it with my son, and a card would be nice. Last year we went to Pie & Burger in Pasadena for lunch, then to the Norton Simon Museum and finished the day off with a visit to Descanso Gardens. It was fantastic."

"Time spent with people I love," said Kathi. "To me, a gift is your time doing some serious bonding and communicating. Food, wine and lots of good conversation. "

Chris was straight to the point: "The best is just the presence of my kids!"

You people are sick.

Elizabeth's best Mother's Day ever came on May 10, 1998. "[My son] was born at 3:36 pm. 7 pounds 9 ounces and 20 inches long. Nothing gets better than that."

Karen says her best ever will be tomorrow. "My son is graduating from college with honors on Mother's Day."

And Janet summed it up this way: "To be honest, we don't focus on gifts for special days. The focus is on getting the family together. We have four children with spouses and 10 grandchildren; we're 20 in our immediate family. I was an only child, so it is pure heaven to me to have all of them together for holidays. The best present my children and grandchildren can give me is their presence."

For the record, household appliances take first place for worst gift ever.


We, your husbands, sons, daughters and grandchildren, drive you crazy 364 days each year. We give you fits of depression and rage so acute you think Valium is a breath mint and a tumbler of chardonnay is a perfectly acceptable way to start your day. We know you exercise and shop not because you enjoy it, but because you know we don't want to go with you.

And on the one day we ask you what you want, when we force ourselves to think about your needs and desires before our own, you tell us that you want to spend it with us. You don't want to go to the hardware store by yourself, play golf with your buddies or sit in the garage with Vin Scully telling you what a beautiful day it is at the ballpark.

And not only do you want to spend your "special day" with the people that make you borderline sociopathic, you want to spend it doing nothing.

Or at least nothing of measurable value. Nothing I can run out and get easily and readily. Nothing that can be ordered on the Internet and delivered by Saturday. Nothing that makes sense.

Gardening? Really?

The museum? The park? Sunny days and fresh air, playing games and laughing?

I think I'm going to be ill.

Mothers. Can't live with them. Can't live without them.

And thank God for that.

PATRICK CANEDAY will be at the Burbank Book Festival today signing his new book "Crooked Little Birdhouse." The event is at Buena Vista Library Branch, 1 to 4 p.m. He can be reached at

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