When Mother Comes to Visit

By: David Leonhardt

My mom came to visit us for a few days. I know what you're thinking. I know it's happened to you, too. Just when someone comes to visit, All Hell decides to break loose. And especially if it's your mother, All Hell delights in knocking everything just enough out of whack to showcase your utter incompetence for her eyes.

But All Hell didn't break loose this time. We drove my mom home from the bus depot. I opened the front door for her and let her walk in first, followed by my wife.

"Oh, my God!"

"What is it, Mother?"

"You've been burglarized."

My wife and I looked at each other. "How can you tell?" we asked together.

"Just look at this place," my mom said as she picked up a chair, set it straight, then wiped something green and sticky off her hand. "They've thrown everything all over the place. Those burglars have no respect."

"This is how it always is," I explained.

"It's just the regular mess," my wife chimed in.

My mom walked through the kitchen, toward the living room, when suddenly she stopped. "I - I - I'm stuck," was all she could say. "My feet are stuck to the floor."

"That happens," my wife offered helpfully.

"We don't really notice anymore," I laughed.

"Well get me unstuck," my mom cried.

"I don't want to spend the rest of my days holding down the floor tiles in your kitchen.

With a little effort, a snow shovel and some hot melted butter (Sorry, Mother.) we were able to pry my mom loose.

When she got to the living room, she looked shocked again. "Didn't you have a carpet in here?"

"We do," I responded.

"It's in here somewhere," my wife added.

"It's probably buried under the mess," I offered.

"It looks like All Hell has broken loose in here," my mom muttered.

"Oh, no," I assured her. "All Hell never breaks loose around here. We let him roam freely."

Then my mom saw three-month-old Little Sister. "Aaaaww. Isn't she the most cutsy, wutsy ... What is THAT in her mouth?!?" she cried.

"I really don't know," I answered.

"It's...Oh my God!" she shrieked.

"It's what?" my wife asked.

"It's dead, I think," I piped in. "At least, it isn't moving."

"It's a pickled onion," my mom exclaimed.

"Really?" I said.

"Shouldn't it be in the fridge?" my wife asked.

"Are you sure it's an onion?" I asked.

"It could be," my wife admitted.

"How would an onion get there?" I asked.

"Same way as everything else, I suppose," my wife suggested.

My mom grew impatient. She grabbed some paper towels and nabbed up the runaway garnish. Or was it a subterranean tiger beetle? Whatever it was, it quickly became flush food.

My mom was really sore by now. "Is that how you take care of your baby?"

"Aw, c'mon Mother," I pleaded. "You know the second one is never like the first."

When Little Lady came into our lives two years earlier, we sterilized everything. Bottles. Teethers. Clothes. We sterilized the counter tops and the carpets and the walls. We even sterilized the mailman. His wife was not impressed.

Now with Little Sister we struggle to remember that bottles need rinsing before reusing them.

My mom picked up one of Little Sister's pajamas. "I suppose you wash this with your own clothes in adult detergent," she remarked.

"Of course not," my wife asserted.

"I don't think we wash it," I added.

The bad news is that my mom might never come to visit us again.

The good news is that we proved capable of showcasing our own incompetence without All Hell having to break loose.

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