It arrived in the mail today. The ivory envelope was lined in gold, and the card was hand-written in stunning, jet-black, loopy calligraphy. It read:
“Congratulations! You have been selected as Mother of The Year, 2011. You have been voted on from a pool of over one million highly-qualified candidates because you have demonstrated time and time again what a wonderful and caring mother you are, and how your children are always your top focus and priority. We salute your motherhood achievements! Please compose a five-minute acceptance speech to present to the guests at the award ceremony, which will be held on Saturday, November 5.”
This, as you know, just on the heels of being told (politely) to never-ever-never-I-mean-it-never volunteer in my older son’s class again, as well as the unfortunate instance of (was it only this morning, October 31st) not having any sort of Halloween costume for Tall and me imploring him to merely wear his basketball uniform and go as … a basketball player. I guess the confirmation letter for my award must’ve been mailed out last week before the basketball thing happened.
I re-read the letter, and almost fainted dead away. Mother of The Year, 2011. Me! I set down my triple latte (no vodka this time, it was only 3 PM) so I could get to work on my important speech since the awards banquet was only days away. Now, where was a pen? Why are all these markers dried out, and all these pencils broken? I ultimately found a flattened eyeliner pencil in the bottom of my purse under the emergency chocolate and started scribbling on the back-side of a wrinkled post-it note (good enough, they weren’t going to be evaluating how I wrote my speech, just that I did write one).
“Ladies and Gentleman,” (oh wait—would there even be men there? I was already second-guessing my speech) “I am honored to be the recipient of the coveted Mother of The Year Award representing all the fine moms out there for 2011. Really, it is such a thrill to even be nominated, and, truth be told, I was unaware that I had been nominated. Thank you for this honorable honor! It is an honor, a true honor.” (My best writing skills always seemed to surface at important times like these.) “The example that I set for myself and others and other mothers and children of those mothers, as well as my own children, is the example of setting a good positive example, one that can be emulated. Positively. Every day, I try to do the right thing so that they can copy it and learn that copying others is good, always good to copy. Or, if since I am a human being with all the frailties and foibles of a typical human person, sometimes I might be unknowingly setting a bad example, in which case, the children of myself and others and their mothers can learn what not to do, and instead copy others and not copy directly me at all times, unless it is to follow a good example of positive behavior, not frailties. In conclusion, with much honor and thanks and gratitude and appreciation, I thank you for this honor. It is an honor, and I do not deserve it.”
In my head, I could hear the rampant applause. How could they not applaud when I used words like “frailties” and “emulate”? Next, I had to think about what to wear. Unfortunately, since I had overdrawn my checking account buying little metal skeleton people on etsy, I would have to use my American Express card. I called to check my outstanding balance, and was somewhat unnerved to hear a soothing tape-recorder voice say, “If this is Princessa MOV, we will still not release charging privileges until your past three months’ bill of unnecessary items from the high-end kitchen store has been paid. Do not call us again, unless it is to notify of us a certified check being fed-exed today. If you would like to hear this in Spanish, press two.”
I guessed I might have to make due with something already inhabiting my closet, like a little black dress. I tried on a few options, and finally settled on the one outfit that was in its original dry-cleaner bag and not laying in a crumpled mess on the floor of my closet. The dress was linen, and it was November, but maybe I could wear some tights with it.
Almost as an afterthought, I went to the front hall closet to search for my beaded red jacket. It was fancy. Unfortunately, while I had been watching a Top Chef marathon last week, my five-year-old loaned the red jacket to our cat to lie on, as a makeshift pretty red bed. The beading was now laced with fluffy white fur.
I decide to have the jacket dry-cleaned, knowing that I could request rush service and have it back by Friday. I searched around on the front-entry console table for a dry-cleaner coupon that was not expired, and that’s when I saw it:
The address on the envelope. It was not addressed to Mrs. MOV at 1234 Everywhere Lane, like I had originally assumed. It was addressed to Jenna Wilkersen-Smith at 1243 Everywhere Lane, and the mailman had obviously mixed up our mail again (at least that explained the missing Amex bill!). Jenna Wilkersen-Smith had just moved here from Florida, and I hated her because she was like that Martha Stewart/ Stepford Mom-Hybrid who was perfect, funny, nice, beautiful, and helpful at all times, and her sons were darling sweet little angels. I despised her. I toyed with the idea of just crumpling up the award notification and tossing it in the trash, or of impersonating Jenna at the award ceremony, or of doing the right thing and hand-delivering it to Jenna so she would get it in time. I knew what that last choice meant: I would have to put on make-up, brush my hair, and be cheerful and perky if I was going to see her.
I looked down at the post-it note speech I was still clutching in my hand. Well, at least the last line was correct:
“I do not deserve it.”
("Mostly Offering Validation")