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Just Saying ...: Mother’s Day Mom Stories

Before Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to take my wife to attend an evening program at our local opera house entitled “Moms Tell All.”

What’s that? Yes, I live in Maine, where we still have opera houses in many of our small towns. No, there hasn’t been a bona fide opera performed there in years. It’s really the town’s theater, built at a time when the term “theater” was morally objectionable to some but “opera” was considered wholesome and reputable entertainment. It was a time when people must have turned a blind eye toward the raunchy side of opera, like that produced by the depraved duo Gilbert and Sullivan.

Then again, the people who built the opera houses also built our city halls with no reservations about the moral diversity in those buildings. Indeed, our local opera house also houses our municipal offices and if the entertainment on one end of the building is objectionable, you might find more agreeable performances on the other end — although there is no guarantee.

Anyway, the program we attended was described as “a curated evening of hilarious storytelling by local moms.” The promotional material went on to say, “Join us for a fun-filled night of hilarious, true-life tales as moms spill the beans about parenting and living the good life.”

That sounded like a comedy club and a good night out. Well, I’m just a guy so I assumed it was going to be about how kids tax and test their mothers but it turned out it wasn’t about parenting at all. It didn’t dawn on me that when you ask mothers to come in front of an audience and tell their most harrowing and memorable stories about motherhood, most all the stories are going to be about, how shall I put this, you know … childbirth.

To be sure, I am quite comfortable with stories about childbirth as much as the next guy but these stories had a descriptive dimension that one could only call “graphic.” I’m sure they would not be allowed in a vulgar theater but since this was the Opera House it added a measure of respectability. Fortunately, the venue was dark, providing cover for the squeamish moments, which came frequently and fast, like quintuplets. Also, it was a great (comic) relief that each of the women was exceptionally witty and downright funny.

All this got me thinking about the story of my own daughter’s birthday, which I’ve titled “Hold That Baby, We Have Payroll.” The story has many high points including the parts about the crossword puzzle and the beef jerky, but payroll is central to the story.

On the way to the hospital when my wife was about to give birth, we realized that it was the 17th of the month. We had a going business and we always paid our employees on the 2nd and 17th. We looked at each other in a panic: what was the right thing to do? Our workplace was roughly on the way to the hospital like Mars is on the way to Pluto and my wife wasn’t yet hollering much so we detoured to get the payroll out.

Most people haven’t a clue that many employers consider payroll top priority. Sometimes it’s more important than getting to the hospital to give birth. I mean if you’re starting a family and you want a stable business for a steady income, you better bend over backwards to get the payroll out on time, every time.

It didn’t take too long, even though there were the usual glitches with overtime, withholding and barely legible timecards. I furiously entered the data and printed checks. My wife sat quietly and hyperventilated when she was not pacing awkwardly and screaming at me like a crazy lady to hurry up.

In the end we made it to the hospital in plenty of time and even though she was absolutely blameless, my wife apologized for threatening to kill me for the most minor offenses including hitting potholes and not parking the car inside the lobby of the emergency room.

The story has many more interesting details and I must say, in all fairness, men should have a chance to present their own versions of mom stories. Hmm, perhaps the opera house will let me host an all-male review of “parenting” stories next year. Have a male tale to tell? Drop me a note.

Meanwhile, the best Mother’s Day to all.