The Cost of Two Mother’s Day Celebrations

Celebrating three mothers over two days.

Photo credit: Bruce, CC BY 2.0.

Working in the food industry, I view all holidays with a pervasive sense of dread and defeat — it’s going to be busy at work, without a doubt. But no holiday wraps my spine with anxiety more than Mother’s Day.

It’s gotten worse as I got older. I’m officially at that age where everyone, including bread delivery guys, assume I’m a mom—so I get the obligatory “Happy Mother’s Day!” greeting upon which I have to mumble something like “yeah, thanks, not a mom…” Also, my mom and I have always had an uncomfortable and competitive familial dynamic. This thankfully has improved in the last couple of years, mostly because age and time have weakened our worst selves.

My little sister is also a mom, so for the last decade I’ve been celebrating both women by taking them out to a restaurant of their choice. My mom and my sister are not flowers-and-cards type of people, so I’ve managed to avoid the costs of those seemingly mandatory gifts. For the past two years I’ve also celebrated Mother’s Day with my boyfriend Lukas’ mom. I call her my honorary mother because I spend more time talking and hanging out with her than I do with my own mom. Honorary mom is decidedly a card kind of lady, so we picked out a card at Target when we went to grab laundry detergent.

I used to have this fantasy of having my family over for brunch. I would cook everything since I’m a great home cook, and they would be amazed at my cooking, the cleanliness of our house, and my overall adulting skills. The only problem is that the week going into a holiday is total drudgery when you work in the food industry. I barely survived Easter’s shopping frenzy, and Mother’s Day is an even bigger nightmare. Besides, a one-bedroom house does not a brunch party make. When Lukas bought the house, he wanted to make sure people wouldn’t come over, like ever, so here we are, with a one-bedroom that’s impossible to host parties in.

Last year my sister, her son, my mom, Lukas, and I went to a local college that hosted a Mother’s Day brunch. For $15 a person ($10 for seniors and kids) we had unlimited standard breakfast fare plus drinks. Everyone enjoyed it, and I didn’t mind not being able to eat 90 percent of the buffet because of allergies. This year, my mom spawned more health issues from her chronic unhealthy lifestyle, and her doctor placed her on a diet of greens and lean meats. I suggested that we should all go to an Asian restaurant with incredible produce on the menu — she said she wanted the college brunch so she could have bacon.

We showed up at the college and I was immediately reminded why going out on holidays is never a good idea. There was a line to check in, a line to wait for a seating hostess, a line to pre-pay, and a long wait to actually get seated. No less than four employees checked in with us, wondering why we were standing. Once seated, we all went to different perimeters of the banquet. My mom and I went for the made-to-order omelets and everyone else went for bacon, fruit, pastas, and carved meats. The coffee was swill, but that’s to be expected when brewing for the masses. But this was still a better excursion than it was last year. We arrived just after noon, so everyone had been awake for a few hours and was ready for a big meal. Last year, we got in at 9 a.m. and everybody had pretty much just woken up and wasn’t hungry yet. They’d also just met my boyfriend, so conversation was dry. This year we all knew each other. We took a bunch of pictures so my mom could put them up on Facebook, and made plans for my pop’s going-away lunch the following weekend.

The next day we had our second Mother’s Day celebration. Lukas’ parents live about two hours south of Seattle, so we were grateful that they offered to meet us in Bothell, aka “the halfway point between our houses.” We went to Bonefish Grill as soon as it opened. Bonefish is one of those places that would have a difficult time surviving in this cheap-eats world we live in nowadays. The cheapest entrée was about $17 and it was a rice bowl. The most expensive was almost $40, and these are lunch prices. A few tables were occupied when we arrived, although it never picked up during the lucrative lunch rush. Lukas and I ordered the grilled salmon with broccoli and starch; his parents ordered a wedge salad and fish and chips to share.

I always enjoy hanging out with Lukas’ parents. They’re cordial and generous people, which are qualities I like in humans who might be my in-laws. Talk is always fluid and they always ask just the right amount of questions. Lukas paid for this outing, while I paid for yesterday’s brunch. When we agree to split the bills like that, we often find that the math works out perfectly: when he opened the tab, it was for $75 — the exact amount I paid on Sunday.

I always say being a parent is the hardest job in the world, and I’m glad we can make the moms feel extra loved and appreciated on their special day.

Cost of two Mother’s Day celebrations:

Brunch: $75
Card: $7.69
Lunch: $82
TOTAL: $165.69


Ruzielle Ganuelas is a writer, baker and PF nerd in Washington State.