Ruth Price, 33 years old and mother of seven, wasn't expecting anything for Mother's Day this year.
After all, her husband William, a pressman, hasn't been getting overtime pay anymore at the Government Printing Office and the family budget has been getting tighter, she said, especially with more repairs to do on their home in Southeast Washington and two more mouths to feed since the arrival of the new twins, Paul and Paula, age 1.
So Price was pleasantly surprised yesterday to awaken to a small avalanche of gifts in appreciation of all her mothering. Her husband and children presented her with a new gray suit, a burgundy skirt and blouse, a blue housedress, a 35mm camera and a Mother's Day outing to Hains Point to bask in sunshine and cook hotdogs and hamburgers at the scenic spot where the Potomac River meets the Anacostia.
"This is just a terrific day," she said. "It's our first cookout this year, and it's a special day for mothers."
From backyard barbecues to plush restaurants, mothers were lunched and brunched and otherwise celebrated on a made-to-order day of sunny skies, cool breezes and temperatures in the 70s.
"To me, having kids is beautiful," Price said as she surveyed her brood, which includes two sets of twins: Marvin and Melvin, 12, and Paul and Paula. "Those second twins were really a shock, though, I'll tell you that."
"I don't feel like you need a special day to celebrate . . . I just love kids and seeing them grow up, and doing things with them," she added. "It's a nice holiday, though, when they do something special for you."
Barbecue smells and music filled the air at Hains Point. Children played ball, chased each other, and demanded more food. Young men washed, waxed and worshipped their cars. And at many of the picnic tables, somebody's mother was being honored.
Susan Toth, 35, of Mount Rainier, said she hadn't been to Hains Point for about 15 years, since her courtship with a young Air Force recruit, Steven Toth, who became her husband.
"We used to come here with a group of people," she recalled. "Now we have a group ourselves"--four blond children, ages 6 to 13. Toth had worked as a secretary until her second child was born, then quit to devote full time to her family.
"It was frustrating when they were all little: washing diapers, doing dishes, making formulas," she said. "It's a lot easier now." Sixteen years after high school, she has just started at Prince George's Community College, studying psychology.
Across the field, Avery Pierce, 24, of Landover, drank wine and visited with friends while 1-year-old Andre crawled at her feet. Pierce reflected on the advantages and drawbacks of being a single mother, saying that there is "never a dull moment."
"There's a lot of hardships, too," she said. "You need reliable babysitters. And a father plays a big role, too."