Today, walking home from school, the kids and I were talking about Easter and the Easter Bunny.
It's you, Jake said. Did you get the peeps?
Excuse me? I asked.
Listen, Mom, Zachary patiently explained, When you had the "Easter Bunny" - and he does quotes with his fingers in the air- come to the condo in Florida and he came with one of the camp counselors and wore boxes on his feet? You really didn't expect us to believe after that, did you?
I looked at him. God that kid is smart. Hey, I said, Don't blame me. That was your grandmother's idea.
Yeah, and then we had to go to a mosquito infested swamp for the egg hunt, Zachary added.
It's true. He did.
Not my idea. Your grandmothers, I said, passing the buck to my dead mother.
They put the eggs in thistle bushes, Zachary said.
By then I was laughing because I do remember it well. There were swarms of mosquitoes and the eggs were in thick bramble. My mother's condo was part of a bigger resort, so they had all sorts of kid programs. She wasn't able, physically, to do very much with the kids so it pleased her that they could go do 'fun stuff' at the 'kid's camp.'
The only problem was the camp wasn't very good.
That wasn't Grandma's egg hunt, Zachary was quick to defend her. She had a great one the next year, around the condo. She always had cool stuff for us.
I know, I said to him. What I didn't say was Jeanine and I, along with the other neighbors, did the egg hunt around the condo. We filled eggs with candy and stickers and small plastic rings and stashed them outside.
My mother was delighted by the idea.
When all the other kids came running out Easter morning in fresh, new, pressed outfits ready for church, my mother frowned at my boys running around in bathing suits and rumpled tee shirts. That was my bad. I should have dressed them. Her grandsons? She waved happily from her balcony, clapping each time they held up an egg.
Memories in my family are rarely about telling the truth. I was torn. My beautiful, blue eyed boy delights in his image of his grandmother. His grandmother was not the same person as my mother. She loved them unconditionally.
Your grandmother, I said carefully, loved you all very much.
Yeah, she'd let us have coke and ice cream for breakfast, but she didn't let you do that when you were a kid, Zachary said.
My mother was out the door to work before I ate breakfast, I thought. I rarely ate anything.
She did let you have whatever you wanted, I smiled. We were almost home.
So, when I have kids, you're gonna spoil them all the time, right?
Yup, I said.
I took a deep breath, and remembered today is the first day of spring. It's about renewal, and fresh, fragile starts. I don't need to be right. I don't need my kids to know all of who my mother was. Not now. Maybe not ever.
I want to move forward.
Zachary eyed me, gauging how far he could push the conversation. You won't be all mean like you are now, with all the rules, he asked.
I turned my head and raised an eyebrow.
Well, except on weekends. You rock on weekends, he hedged. Zachary will be a brilliant politician someday.
But you are kinda mean during the week, Jake piped in.
I'm gonna be mean to you now! I said and started to run after Jake who squealed and ran the rest of the way, with me chasing him.
The peeps are bought. The baskets, ready. There will be no excuses for waking up early in the morning because no one believes in the Easter Bunny, boxes or not on his feet.
For me? This time is about the small green outside, the little beginnings of possibilities.
And enjoying every walk home.