Covert Mom: Watching the Wheels Go Round

By Mariah Mottley


Mariah Mottley

June is at an end and I am limping over the finish line. The month has gone by in a blur of hurriedly prepared potluck dishes, missing permission slips and elusive birthday candles (which are kind of essential when both of your daughters celebrate June birthdays). It has been nonstop. I’m so done with small talk, I’m afraid I’ll start making beeping noises, like a truck in reverse, the next time I have to socialize, which is in about 40 minutes. I staggered around my bedroom, looking for something to wear that wasn’t leggings and a T-shirt. Found my shoes, but no earrings yet. I’m fried.

So far, we have had one scavenger hunt, a screening of Clue, dinner at Viva Taqueria, homemade strawberry shortcake, homemade carrot cake, store bought carrot cake, store bought cheesecake, homemade carrot cake cupcakes, an afternoon of swimming at Cass Park, a Filofax planning party, and new cat pendants for everyone.

In addition to the birthday situation, this month there was also a rash of field trips. The 4th grade trip to the Eight Square Schoolhouse required an olden day costume. Other than providing the entire outfit, which I outsourced, my presence was not required.

This was not the case with the 6th grade’s New York City trip, for which I volunteered as a chaperone. Said 18-hour extravaganza of sensory overload included attending “On Your Feet,” the Gloria Estefan musical, and a meal at the Hard Rock Café. I led my charges on an improvised detour into Saks Fifth Avenue to find the restroom, took them to a hot dog vendor outside the Steinway store for lunch, and traversed Rockefeller Center by way of the Diego Rivera mural inside the lobby. The noise never stopped, just changed shape from sixth graders on a bus to the Miami Sound Machine on Broadway to horns honking to the doof-doof-doof of the Hard Rock Café. I needed a quiet room after that, but we ate more birthday cake instead.

Since tripping the light fantastic in the Big Apple with middle schoolers, I have attended the 1st grade celebration, preceded by the much-anticipated Stewart Park Field Trip. Then there was the 4th grade graduation, in which parents and teachers cried and clapped continuously while each student in the grade walked across the stage, and shook the principal’s hand, their departure from elementary school now official. I took careful video of the whole thing, only to realize with bemused gratitude that all the people I would have sent it to were sitting beside me.

We’ve been to so many school jazz and chorus concerts, that when I invited my father to the last one, he texted back politely with, ‘is attendance to this required?’ Sitting beside my husband at the spring piano recital, I realized, after reading the program, that it was our 13th wedding anniversary.
“And what better way to spend it?” he asked dryly when I poked him.

On Father’s Day, we celebrated at our usual venue, panting up and down the hills of the Cornell Plantations for five kilometers of the Pete DeMott Peace Trot. The temperature was in the high-80s and humid. Race volunteers spritzed us with spray bottles at intervals to no avail. It was physically miserable, but still better than eight hours on the New York bus with 11-year-olds.

I found some earrings on my bedside table, pulled a tunic on over the leggings. The finish line is in sight. I am one slumber party, five make-your-own sundaes, four tickets to Despicable Me 3, and one office party away from July.

July. After June there is July. July is fabulous. Already, the snap peas and strawberries are available for U-Pick at the CSA. The daylilies blooming. I have my New York State Parks Pass affixed to the window of my car. We will spend long afternoons loitering by the lake. The kids will go crazy from boredom, and grow out of all their clothes. It will be hot.

Just to get it out of my system, in the parking lot of Six Mile Vineyard, earrings on and kids in tow, I made a few beeping noises. Just one more, I told myself. One more time. So nice to see you again. What a lovely evening. Bee-eeep. Bee-eep. Bee-eep.

Glass of wine in hand, I shook hands at the party, trying to make eye contact and to be sure that all my verbs were conjugated correctly. At the end of June, it’s the best I can do. Here’s looking at you, July.
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Originally from Manhattan, Mariah was educated in Massachusetts, Montana and Texas, often by failure. She lives with her husband and three children in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Mariah can be reached at