We mommies have an unspoken language that only we can understand. It’s wordless… based on subtle expressions of the face, mostly the eyes, and a little bit of psychic understanding thrown in. It’s a way of communicating that I’m sure dates back to prehistoric times. Probably a survival mechanism where females could secretly complain to one another about their foul smelling mates with bad teeth without their mates knowing and the females consequently suffering the repercussions, or concussions, whatever the form of cave husband disapproval was back then.
In fact, I had just such a wordless conversation with another mommy on Mother’s Day. I didn’t even know her. But, I KNEW exactly what she was thinking.
Here’s what happened.
So, Randy the perfekt husband took me and Julia to the La Quinta Resort and Spa in Palm Springs for Mother’s Day weekend. After a lovely, relaxing day Saturday, we awoke Sunday morning and headed to Twenty6, one of the resort’s restaurants, for Mother’s Day breakfast.
The three of us were seated at a small table near a larger party of two families. Between them they had 7 kids and, from the looks of one mommy’s profile, another on the way.
Well, I happened to look over (okay I was staring cuz I couldn’t imagine how those women did it with so many kids) when the mommies began opening their Mother’s Day presents. One MOM was right in my sight line. Her Husband handed her a little gift bag from which she removed a very promising-looking, smallish box. I could see the anticipation on her face. I KNOW she was thinking, “I wonder if it’s a diamond?” as she smiled a BIG SMILE. I didn’t even have to be psychic to figure out that part.
Then she opened the box. And I knew instantly - SHE HATED IT! Not because her smile faded or anything. Oh, no. Like any mommy experienced at sometimes (or maybe always) getting the absolute wrong gift, she held that smile like the Miss America title was riding on it. There was even “ooohing” and “aaahing” coming out of her mouth. No, in fact, to the untrained eye, all the outward signs pointed to her loving it.
But this mommy knew better. Whereas her smile was initially very natural and relaxed, suddenly it took on a slightly forced look. Just around the edges. Subtle but there. Only obvious to those lacking a Y chromosome. And the anticipatory glimmer in her eye went out like a burned-out bulb. Shark eyes are the only way I can describe them. Dead. Dead to all hope of a good Mother’s Day gift from the one human being on Earth who was supposed to know her better than anyone – her husband.
Our eyes met for a moment, this mommy and I. I knew. And she knew I knew. Yet without missing a beat, she looked back at her hubby and kids and proclaimed SHE LOVED IT!
Then she held “it” up so I could finally see the object of her disdain. It was THE BIGGEST, GAUDIEST RING EVER! I mean, this thing was honkin’ huge. It had the subtlety of a mack truck, this ring did. Which would have been tolerable if it was indeed a diamond because hey… big is good when it comes to diamonds. Yes? But it wasn’t a diamond. No sirree.
It was one of those giant rectangular black onyx things with lots of little rhinestones all around it. So big it covered the two neighboring fingers. The only appropriate use for such a huge, flashy, non-diamond ring would be to have Christopher Columbus kiss it before he set sail on his adventure to decimate the New World with the pox.
I whispered to Randy, “She doesn’t like it.” And Randy who up to that point had been completely oblivious to anything but the stack o’ butter- soaked pancakes before him – the kind that men always seem to get away with eating without gaining weight, replied, “Huh? Who?”
ME: That mommy over there, at the other table. She DOES NOT like the ring she got for Mother’s Day.
Randy glanced over.
RANDY: But she’s wearing it.
ME: It means nothing.
RANDY: Well, she keeps saying she loves it! THAT means something.
TONI: It means she’s polite. Now watch, she’s going to set up for the return… Wait for it. Wait for it.
Just then, between her gushing and her “I love its”, the Mommy suddenly said:
MOMMY: Wow. It’s kind of too big on me. I don’t know if they’ll be able to resize this. I’ll have to take it back to the shop and see.
And there is was. Randy looked at me in amazement.
RANDY: How did you know?
As the Mommy got up from the table NOT WEARING her ring, our eyes met again. Her eyes told me I was right, that sucker was going back, no matter what the shop said about resizing – if she even bothered to ask, which she probably wouldn’t. I already knew it. And she knew I knew it.
ME: (to Randy) We mommies just know.
Randy started in on his bacon and I watched as the Mommy and her group headed out the door. And she shot me a final parting glance that told me she hoped I had better luck with my Mother’s Day gift.
Oh. I had. Know why? Because unlike some husbands (hers), mine had learned the key to good gift-giving a LONG time ago. Take me to pick it out. Yes he did. And yes I had. And I was happily wearing my necklace, bracelet and earrings as I nibbled away at my health conscious yogurt and berry medley breakfast that we women have to suffer through instead of butter-soaked pancakes so as NOT to gain weight.
No bad gifts for this good mommy.