A mother of a Mother’s Day
Published in the Des Plaines Valley News, The Southwest News Herald Newspaper, the Reporter Newspapers, the Regional Newspaper May 18, 2017
By Ray Hanania
Mother’s Day: I was standing in the lobby of Buca di Beppo Sunday with my wife and son as some two dozens unhappy people waited nearly an hour for dinner tables to open up.
The restaurant in Orland Park was jam-packed and reservations were running as much as 90 minutes late.
Women, with their families celebrating “Mother’s Day,” were haranguing the poor young female receptionist who did her best to maintain a smile, explaining as soon as tables opened, all would be seated.
“It’s muddah’s day, people” I wanted to yell, thinking of the popular song by Allan Sherman from back in the 1960s, “Hello Muddah, Hellow Faddah” who complains about having to sit through an uncomfortable camping trip only to end up happy.
Did you think the restaurants were going to be empty?
Despite the wait, we were all seated and we all had our dinners. Was there really a need for frustration?
After thinking of the passenger dragged off of a United Airlines flight last month, I started to think about the entitlement our society enjoys these days. We expect things. When our expectations are not met, we get angry. We need to blame someone else.
I reminded one of the ladies berating the cashier that it was Mother’s Day. Who expects not to wait for a seat on Mother’s Day?
“We’ll get there,” I reassured a lady, who calmed a bit and told the receptionist, “Well, it’s not your fault. You’re doing your best.”
When I was young, we never went out for dinner on Mother’s Day. We stayed home and helped our mom around the house. Dad pulled out the barbecue, saturated the pile of briquettes with charcoal lighter fluid, and tossed in a match creating a large ball of fire to rise up in the air.
Who wouldn’t wait to see that?
We clawed through the crisp chicken, hot dogs and, despite it being Mother’s Day, a large pot of grape leaves stuffed with lamb and rice that my mom insisted on making that morning, even if it was “her day.”
Is going out to dinner with “Mom” the lazy way to celebrate all that “Mothers’ do for us?
When we finally sat down and ordered our food, the glow from that evening’s expectations was gone.
Was that the best I could do? Take my wife to a stressed out, over-crowded restaurant, wait 90 minutes standing up by the cramped front lobby, and then, in the noise of the packed establishment after getting a table, quickly gobble up the Italian food?
The meal was gone in minutes. Mind you, I love Buca di Beppo. It’s not them. It’s all of us. But all that time and effort against all that we got to finally enjoy just didn’t seem very balanced.
I did the routine all men do. I bought my wife flowers. My son and I made her coffee, just the way she likes it, when she got up. We gave her funny cards from American Greetings that had words thought up by someone else. I also had my son write his mom a letter explaining all the things he is grateful for. All I do in life is write for a living, so I took a pass, of course.
I still wondered how many hundreds of thousands of husbands had gone out that week and gave their wives the exact same Mother’s Day greeting card that I purchased for $6.99 for my wife?
Yet I think I am going to try and do something else next time. Maybe a barbecue, again, dinner at home surrounded by the family instead of angry strangers; so I can be paranoid and ask myself, “What if I didn’t do enough?”
Hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day, ladies, from the unimaginative men many of us are!
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)