Mother's Day means more to me than love, honor and affection. It's my one chance out of 365 to have the family cook breakfast, put it on the table, and call me to come eat. But I'm not sure it's worth it.

Getting the operation started is not the only hard part: My husband is a noncook with a natural resistance even to peeling carrots. Take last Mother's Day morning, for example, when I broached the idea of French toast.

"How about a nice bowl of shredded wheat instead?" was his counter-suggestion.

"I don't want shredded wheat. I want French toast. Come on, this is Mother's Day. Besides, you can get the kids to help," I suggested.

"But I don't know how to make it."

I had anticipated that stumbling block. "You can look it up in one of my books."

Reluctantly he got out of bed, called the children and headed for the kitchen, while I began thumbing through the paper, looking for the comics.

Within two minutes, however, it became apparent that I would be needed in an advisory capacity. My 8-year-old son, Ethan, came dashing up to the bedroom with a vital question.

"How many eggs do we need, Mom?"

"Try six."

He sped off downstairs to relay the message, and I tried to go back to the latest crisis in the life of Mary Worth.

But the conversation in the kitchen below was more compelling.

"It says here in the book you only need two eggs," I could hear my husband challenging his son.

"Better check and see how many it says it serves," I called down, hoping that I was making my last contribution to the proceedings.

But I could still hear little voices drifting up to the bedroom.

"Can we do the eggs in the food processor?"


"Then what do we stir them with?"

Ten seconds later, Ethan was back in the bedroom, brandishing a huge wire whisk I rarely use."Will this do for the eggs, Mom?" he questioned.

"If you want. But I usually just use a fork. And by the way, are you going to put some oil in the pan to keep the toast from sticking?"

Ethan was off like a flash again.

Downstairs I could hear another hurried conference.

"She just uses a fork for the eggs. And she says we need oil in the frying pan."

"Oh, yeah, Oil."

"Hey, Mom, we can't find the oil. Is it all right if we sue vinegar instead?"

"Please don't! The oil is in the pantry. Just look for it." I wondered whether I was going to be getting French toast or some sort of salad.

The next stumbling block was the selection of the pan.

"No, Dad, she always uses the electric frying pan for French toast," I could hear Elissa arguing.

"Well, then, what setting do we put it on?"

"The highest one," I called down.

After that, they seemed to manage on their own, although I could still hear words of wisdom being exchanged over the cooking toast.

"Turn it over, Dad. That side's done."

"I think he needs to cook it longer."

"We might not have enought eggs."

"Well, hurry up and dip all the bread, then."

"I don't think we have enough pieces of bread." that was Ethan complaining.

"Then somebody will only get to have two," Elissa explained the logic of it to him. "Mommy has to have three pieces and she can have four if she wants, because this is her breakfast."

"What do you mean her breakfast?" Ethan was outraged. "It's our breakfast. We made it."

"But this is Mother's Day, remember?"

Finally they called me downstairs.

"I did the most," Ethan said the minute I crossed the kitchen threshold. "I stirred the eggs, and I put the toast in the pan, and I got the plates. But I'm not going to eat it if it doesn't taste good," he added under his breath.

I sat down, poured on the maple syrup, and took a bite.

"It's great! You all did a really super job. Who's going to clean up the kitchen?"

"Well, we did the cooking."

The Mother's Day spell was broken. CAPTION: Picture, Apron from the Hecht Co., by James M. Thresher - The Washington Post