It’s Mother’s Day morning and young men and women emerge from apartments all over the city, dreary-eyed and caffeine-deprived, on the quest for that perfect last-minute gift.
Many of us were excused from present-buying duties during our college years. In those days, a simple phone call and card sufficed.
But ever since we’ve become “real people,” our mothers have begun expecting “real presents.” And rightly so.
The hard thing about Mother’s Day, though, is that it’s on a Sunday. Sundays are right before Saturdays, which are right before long workweeks. Long workweeks come before other long workweeks, when Mother’s Day is still just an embryo of a reminder on our iPhones.
But then—suddenly—the day arrives. The iPhone alarm rings and rings. Early risers post Instagram collages and poetic Facebook statuses in their mothers’ honor, while the rest of us still lie in bed, fighting off Saturday night.
When the clock strikes 12 noon, the pressure’s on.
Now, the amount of love we have for our mothers and the amount of time left till Mother’s Day dinner do not correlate. In fact, some of the latest gift-buyers are the most dedicated, roaming the streets of New York during the wee hours of brunch.
They are driven by love, and they are driven by guilt. They are driven by an extra-large coffee from the local bagel shop.
And they won’t show up empty-handed.
Having stayed with some college friends in the city that Saturday night, I joined the pack of last-minute gift-buyers Sunday morning.
Luckily, New York City came through for me no fewer than five minutes after emerging from my friends’ apartment. As I crossed 71st street, I saw a table overflowing with flowers ranging from lilies to orchids to roses.
Tucked among the array of colors, I spotted the perfect bouquet of 12 roses—six red and six white. They were classic, beautiful and exactly what my mother would like. I fished a crumpled 20 out of my purse and handed it to the man behind the table.
I turned and made my way toward the 72nd street subway, pushed through the turnstile and hopped on the 1 train to 42nd Street.
As I left the subway and walked down 42nd towards Port Authority, I noticed the bouquets became more frequent. In fact, they were everywhere. New York City was now dotted with these colorful, tangible representations of love.
But what’s a bouquet without a card? I stopped in the Duane Reade at the corner of 42nd and 8th, not prepared to meet swarms of my fellow last-minute gift-buyers in the cards section. I had just 15 minutes till my bus embarked for Jersey. I waited on line for my chance to pick one out, borrowed a pen from the cashier, and made it to my bus just in time.
After 30 minutes, when the bus rolled to my stop, I turned to thank bus driver. In that moment, I saw a young man sitting in the front seat, holding a bouquet so large it would hardly stay in his lap. Roses. Orchids. Tulips. Lilies. Everything.
What does he do? How does he afford that? His flowers were bigger and better than mine—his smirk told me he knew that too—and my confidence with my gift plummeted.
Is it possible…I went wrong with the roses?
I stepped off the bus, took a deep breath, and knew.
The beauty of mothers is no matter which flowers you buy them, or how many they are, they’ll always be exactly the right ones.