My wife asked the strangest question the other day. And I have to admit, the words instantly set off some bells and whistles.
"Have I lost it?" she asked.
That's a husband's worst nightmare curve ball city. But like a true guy, I took the time to pause for her whole question before chiming in with the wrong answer.
"Have I lost it ... as a mother?"
Whew. That's a little better.
I'm guessing all first-time fathers out there have been trapped into hearing this question at some point during the initial years of parenthood. For me, it came less than a month away from my daughter's first birthday.
Mary Ellen Goltermann, all 11 months of teetering toddler on the verge of her first solo steps, has no clue what her mother might be talking about. Neither do I.
But "mommy" knows best. My wife Kim is Mrs. Dad to my Mr. Mom. I have Mary Ellen, or Meg as we call her for short, during the day. Kim gets the second shift when I head to work.
Dad, happy to play the role of singing and dancing clown, is always performing. Meanwhile, Mom has the responsibilities of dinner, bathtime and bedtime, with maybe an hour or two of one-on-one, mother-daughter bonding a night squeezed in if she's lucky.
So I don't find it strange at all when Meg smiles at mom on the weekend, but giggles everytime her goofy dad turns the corner to play "peek-a-boo." Mothers notice those things immediately.
As Mother's Day approaches, all moms, especially Kim, deserve an opportunity to see their accomplishments on paper. They need a grade. And that's what the following is for. It's a test, actually more of a pop quiz, for them to pin up on the refrigerator for their children and husbands to see on their special day.
By the way, for any mother whose children no longer live at home, you're ineligible. And why?
Because you're an expert who has already tasted one of the major successes of parenthood.
For the rest of you moms, follow along and try to keep score ...
Question 1: The first moment your child made you smile was ...
a) when he/she smiled at me (5 points)
b) when he/she gave me my first kiss (6 points)
c) when my children finally became potty trained (25 points)
Question 2: My child's favorite toy was ...
a) teddy bear (2 points)
b) your fine china (15 points)
c) anything that kept him/her quiet for more than an hour (25 points)
Question 3: The best place for your child to unwind is ...
a) Quietly in their room [and good luck] (2 points)
b) Outside so they don't break anything else (20 points)
c) At your mother-and-father in laws house (100 points)
Question 4: True or False. Television destroys brain cells.
True: (0 points)
False: (100 points) Trick question: Being a parent destroys 95 percent of brain cells.
Question 5: Complete the following sentence. A mother's place is in the ....
a) home (5 points)
b) kitchen (minus 100 points and hit your husband for laughing)
c) tub, soaking in a bubble bath after a long, hard day (25 points)
Question 6: The best Mother's Day present you could ever receive would be ...
a) a homemade card from one of my children (10 points)
b) a day by myself in peace and quiet (25 points)
c) the day my husband REALIZES I need a day of peace and quiet (50 points)
Question 7: The first time I ever felt like a mother was ...
a) When my child was first placed in my arms (10 points)
b) When my child finally said, "Mommy." (15 points)
c) When you first told your child, "Just wait until YOU have children ..." (25 points)
Ok, tally it up ...
34-60 points: Give yourself a solid 'B.' You're an honest and caring mother ... that lost her grip on reality a long, long, long time ago.
61-82 points: Give yourself an A-minus. Hey, who needs perfection right?
83 points and up: Gotcha you cheater! Give yourself a big fat 'F.' Do you really think a mom wouldn't be spending five minutes to read a newspaper column with all the stuff they do every day. ...
A Happy Mother's Day to you all especially you, Kim.
You always get an A-plus with me.
Chris Goltermann is design editor for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 262 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .