Peter Chianca: Have you thanked your mother today?

Peter Chianca

It’s Mother’s Day, the time of year when children honor their mothers by taking them out to brunch. This way Mom can have a nice, relaxing meal, and still be back home early enough to do all the laundry, shop for groceries and vacuum up all the crumbs from the brunch doggie bags.

Of course, as a child you just take for granted that your mother will do all these things happily in exchange for that one meal a year and a construction paper sunflower you made in art class. It’s not until you have kids of your own that you realize being a mother can be a pretty thankless job, sort of like being Joe Biden’s press secretary.

With that in mind, I thought I would take this opportunity to thank my own mother for some of the things she had to put up with when I was a kid. Granted, I never came home with a tattoo on my neck or set the house on fire (the latter mostly just out of sheer luck), but I figure it still couldn’t have been easy putting up with the following:

1) Waiting in the doctor’s office. I wasn’t a particularly sickly kid, but looking back I realize that between me and my two siblings, my mother must have spent a good chunk of our youths sitting in waiting rooms keeping us calm as we awaited annual checkups, sick visits and treatment for bumps and breaks. Of course, our anxiety was always compounded by the nagging feeling that the doctor was going to walk in there and stick us with something.

The funny thing is, I have very fond memories of yucking it up with my mother while we waited for the doc to arrive. I don’t know if she did this on purpose to keep me distracted or if the doctor’s office just brought out her inner Joan Rivers, but either way it made it easier. Thanks, Mom.

2) Sitting at Little League games. When in the first or second grade I declared to my parents that I wanted to play Little League, their reaction was probably somewhat predictable given my predilection for sports up until the point: They said “You DO?” in unison, and then checked me for a fever.

When it came to the actual games, though, most of them were played while my father was at work, meaning my mother was the one stuck sitting on the sidelines watching me stand in deep (DEEP!) left field swatting at gnats (which was not something you could get a trophy for, no matter how good you were at it). She was also the one who had to witness the times when it was the bottom of the ninth with two outs and I came up to the plate to display my unusual batting style, which didn’t seem to bear any relation to the trajectory of the ball — it looked like I was trying to generate wind electricity.

Still, on the ride home (after the requisite ice cream stop), she always somehow (power of suggestion? hypnotism?) made me feel like I’d played a good game. Thanks, Mom.

3) The best bedtime stories ever. Maybe because she had developed a keen aversion to European folk tales, my mother would instead often regale me with the plots of whatever book she happened to be reading herself at the time. I was particularly insistent that she include as many details as possible, particularly if it was something scary, which is probably why after she told me about Steven King’s “Cujo” I started crossing the street whenever I’d see a St. Bernard.

But all those stories made me eager to pick up my first novel to read on my own, and I haven’t stopped since. Thanks, Mom.

4) The English muffin pizzas. Mom was and is a terrific cook, and it was understood that when my father was home we’d have a “real dinner,” i.e., something that didn’t involve the toaster. But when he worked late on Fridays it was English Muffin Pizza Night, which is a kid’s dream meal — I’d be known to consume up to six halves in one sitting. (English muffin pizzas are always measured in halves.)

The trick was putting them in the broiler after the toaster, which she didn’t have to do — but she did anyway. Thanks, Mom.

5) That one carnival ride. At carnivals it was my father’s job to take us on any ride that did anything other than move slowly around in circles while we sat on a plastic horse. So I’m not sure how my mother got stuck taking me on that one that spins you around while whipping you back and forth in different directions, but I’m suspecting Dad was otherwise occupied and disappointing me just wasn’t an option. Unfortunately for Mom, keeping her dinner down afterwards wasn’t either.

When someone is willing to risk having to run behind a bush in gastrointestinal distress, that’s love. Thanks, Mom.

I could go on — I haven’t even gotten to the teenage years, when I’m convinced several missed curfews shaved years off her life (although I would remind her that not one of those times did I come how with a tattoo on my neck). But I think you get the idea: It’s the little things that mothers do every day that really make a difference. So thanks to one terrific mother — and please take a minute to thank your own mom this Mother’s Day.

You can do it after brunch, when you’re dropping off your laundry.

Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pchianca. To receive At Large by e-mail, write to info@chianca-at-large.com, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”