Definitely the dominate gene

In my family, the women have a long-standing love for celebrating, and by that, I mean shopping, lunch out, movies, museums – anything that doesn’t involve chores. My mom was the queen of these “Ladies’ Days.” Yes, my mom, may she rest in peace in some heavenly movie theater holding a pack of chocolate-covered peanuts (her drug of choice), never missed a chance to have fun. In her honor, I never refuse anything with “chocolate,” “coffee” or “sale” in its name. Like mother, like daughter, she passed this trait on to me and I passed it along to my children the way some moms pass along sewing skills. When my first two turned out to be girls, I trained them right from the start, and when my sweet son came along, he fit right in with Ladies’ Days. Especially if it involved food.

My daughter Cassie, an efficient, busy mom, has mastered the fine art of these outings. She works, volunteers, carts her grammar-school kids to SAT-prep classes, and keeps a sharp eye on good health, clutching her credit cards all the while. Carpe diem and all that.

She and I had plenty of practice during a recent visit. While my husband made his manly choice to read and nap with our dog in the car (no Ladies’ Day gene there), Cassie and I giggled our way through stores, errands and enough frozen yogurt to dispel its “healthy” promo. My mother would have been proud. We also realized how much we shared the joy of motherhood, reflections on marriage, and whether it was globally responsible to go to Starbucks for the second time in one day. It was, and we did.

Now, back in Maine, I’m still unpacking, and thinking about how we enjoy our meaningful chats, though long-distance.

I stop to have breakfast, when the phone rings. It’s Cassie.

“Mom, want to hear something disgusting?”

“More than anything,” I say, looking down at my blueberry muffin and coffee.

“Well, normally I take Dolce to PetPalace to get groomed. But it’s, like, a hundred dollars now. They keep upping the price.”

“That’s terrible,” I agree.

“But my friend told me about a good groomer who’s a whole lot cheaper,” she says.

That’s my girl. Efficient. Frugal. It’s not always about frivolous things. I give myself a pat on the back.

“So I take the dog and when I walk in, I see tons of dog hair all over, but I figure, OK, they are grooming dogs, after all. Maybe they just clean up at the end of the day,” she says.

She’s on a roll. I bite into my muffin.

“And,” she continues, “the woman behind the desk is chain-smoking. Disgusting.”

I put my muffin down long enough to give myself another little pat on the back.

“She barely looks up at me, but hey – it’s just a little country groomer. So I leave the dog – I mean, it’s a fraction of the price – and run out to do work errands and have a quick lunch.”

“Lunch?” I ask. “What’ja have?”

But she is focused on her dog story.

“I go back to pick him up – oh, veggie wrap, iced tea, chocolate chip cookie, still warm, so yummy, you should try it next time you’re down here, Mom.”

We share a sacred pause.

“And I go back in to pick him up and it’s even smokier. But I figure so what, I’m only paying 25 bucks – can you believe it? And as I’m waiting for them to bring out the dog and I’m trying not to breathe in the filth and smoke -”

One more pat on the – oh, never mind. She continues to ramble, another mother-daughter trait we’ve perfected. What she’s saying is unpleasant, but I wouldn’t call it disgusting, exactly. I take a big bite of muffin, the berries bursting onto my taste buds (hint: always add your own extra blueberries to the mix, and a few raspberries, don’t just rely on those pitiful, puny little berries that come in the mix).

“I look down – there are a couple of loose dogs, probably the owner’s – and there, in the food dish, is a mouse hopping around, desperately trying to get out!”

Stop. Everything.

Especially the muffin.

My voice may be a little loud at this point. “Are you kidding me?????”

“So disgusting,” she says. “I slapped down the money, snatched up the dog, and got out of there as fast as I’ve ever gotten out of anywhere.”

Poor kid, just trying to save a few bucks.

“I got out as quick as I could. I just ran!” she says, voice rising. “I ran like crazy.”

I stop sipping my coffee. She sounds really upset.

“I mean, I had to get out because,” she gasps.

Ugh. I wish I’d been there for her.

“Because,” she says, “there was only one hour left to get to the annual half-price sale at the Loft.”

Sometimes I can just feel my mom smiling down on us.

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