Mom is coming into town this weekend to celebrate her birthday with me and Sissy. (Learn more about my amazing mother here) I can’t wait! Normally she stays at Sissy’s and yet despite droning on and on about how much of a nasty, vile, rat’s nest of an apartment I have, she’s decided she’d like to stay with me. Um, OK… I’m ready for the challenge. I’m going to blow her mind with just how luxurious my rat’s nest is. I’m going to pull out all the stops and blow Sissy’s washer/dryer-gorgeous-bathroom-faux-fireplace-special-order-linen-couch-two-bedroom-Upper-West-Side brownstone straight out of the water! Just kidding. Mostly.
And don’t get me wrong, my mom is not snooty, she’s just a normal, concerned mom, as in, nothing is ever good enough for her precious angel. But Moms of our generation forget we’ve moved on from the womb, have gotten jobs, new lives and “different” living situations than the familiar luxuries of suburbia. That aside, she’s a guest, the most important guest you’ll have in your home and she should be treated with the utmost thought and care. She’s Mom, she deserves this.
So here are the eight things I’ve decided will make my (and perhaps your) reception of Mommy Dearest go smoothly.
1) Get the apartment professionally cleaned. It doesn’t matter how clean you can get it with your platoon of Duane Reade cleaning supplies. She will walk in and either let out a really dramatic sneeze and say “Oh my…Evie, it’s awfully dusty in here…” Or later, you’ll see her standing precariously on the kitchen table trying to wash the ceiling with one of your gym t-shirts, then when she realizes you’re standing there, look at you sheepishly like “Oops…hi… I saw a cobweb up there….”
2) Bring in fresh flowers. You can’t change the fact that your floor is painted a crayola brown or that your bathroom looks like the set of one of the Saw movies. Fresh flowers are a great way to divert Mom’s attention from these horrifying details.
3) Get all the ingredients for her favorite cocktail.
Whether she’s a plane or bus ride away, even if she herself has lived in the Big Apple before, she’ll be all flustered and overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle when she arrives. It’s also likely that in addition to her huge suitcase (“What? I didn’t know what pack…OK, Eva?!”), she’s brought you a bag of homemade goodies (in my case it’s always salmon, fresh herbs, homemade preserves and a kitchen tool of sorts) that makes maneuvering through the city to your apartment more cumbersome. Diffuse this situation quickly by making her favorite drink* immediately upon getting her settled in the apartment.
*We all know Mom doesn’t actually drink, but loves the novelty of it, so just shake something up for her. In my mom’s case it’s a Tequila Sunrise that she’ll take one sip of and forget about.
4) Strategically place family photos throughout the apartment.
You are Mom’s greatest achievement in life (duh); you need to play strategically on this. If she starts to associate your garbage apartment with such amazing greatness, she’ll start enjoying your garbage apartment. In my case, I went for the gusto and placed photos by her side of the bed. Make sure the photo of you specifically is prominent and precious (remember, we’re creating seemingly impossible, positive associations here).
5) Leave her favorite candy on the coffee table.
To my earlier point, we’re trying to trick her into enjoying herself in a space she’s decided is wretched. Candy is tasty and fun. If she eats the fun candy in your apartment, science states that she is having fun in your apartment!
Now we’ve set the stage for Mom’s amazing visit and have taken steps to intercept her comfortably. Here a few other things you can do ensure that
you get the vacation home in the will your apartment firmly becomes the favorite apartment throughout her stay:
6) Leave an eye mask and earplugs on the bedside table.
She’s not going to be used to sirens, garbage trucks and drunks screaming in the night. In my case, we come from a pretty rural area, so given my noise machine isn’t furnished with a “fishercat eating screaming bunny” setting, I’ll attempt to go for full silence.
7) Prepare some breakfast foods and a tea/coffee station.
This is important, especially if Mom arrives on a work day and needs to be left unattended. Make sure to have some fresh eggs, cream, fruit and yogurt placed prominently in the center of the fridge in case she’d like to take her breakfast at home. Because she won’t know where everything is, set a tray of morning tea on the counter so all she has to do is boil water. At this point, you can confidently assume that you are definitely the favorite child.
8) Make Mom a city survival kit.
It’s likely Mom has grand plans for her trip to New York so it’s important to get her prepared to maximize her time. I put together a little “city survival kit” to make sure she’s as comfortable as possible:
- An umbrella: there’s nothing worse than being a tourist trapped in the rain, soaking wet and not quite sure where to go next. This is especially true in the summer months when the storms can hit unexpectedly.
- A water bottle: Mom is always heckling you to drink more water, make sure she does the same. This also helps her avoid the bodega and street vendor racket of $5.00 water bottles.
- A tour book and map: this will allow her to discover some things she didn’t plan on doing. Make sure to provide a map that includes subway and bus routes if the guide book doesn’t already have it.
- A fare card: provide her with a pre-loaded fare card to really make her feel like a New Yorker. She’ll likely take cabs everywhere (yessssss!) but it gives her the option.
- Trail mix: With all that museum-ing and shopping,
you areMom is going to need a little snacky. Avoid yourthe low-blood sugar induced tantrums and pack something delicious to keep the day going in a positive direction. For my mom, I made a mix from almonds, dried apricots and cranberries, chocolate covered pretzels.
- A tote bag: Everybody’s all about going green these days, so make sure to give her a cute, sustainable tote to carry all this stuff.
Mom, happy birthday. I love you so much; I’m really looking forward to a great weekend with you!