elbows on the table

The Epic Mother’s Day Pancake Tower

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This story is part of the Elbows on the Table Essay SeriesIllustration by David Ziegler-voll.

As a kid, I tried to make Mother’s Day a decadent affair. Something sophisticated. But as someone who grew up thinking the Applebee’s in the strip mall was a fine dining experience, this was clearly a recipe for disaster.

On Mother’s Day, I would wake up early, too early– at least 2 hours before it was polite to be clanging pans around– to begin constructing a tower of pancakes. 

Fretting back and forth from the stovetop to my slowly growing tower, I added layer upon layer upon layer, only stopping once the tower began to slump under the weight of so much syrup. 

Because obviously, I added syrup as I went, and at the end. 

Oh, but pancakes and syrup simply wasn’t enough. Not on Mother’s Day! My mom needed toppings, like strawberries dipped in chocolate, strawberries dipped in straight-up sugar, M&Ms, chocolate chips, blueberries, and gummy candies. I’d pile them on and let them topple over the side to splash into the syrupy moat below. 

Once my masterpiece was complete, I would trundle it up the stairs to my mom’s room. It would usually still be dark out, and so naturally, she would still be asleep. 

The poor thing, peacefully sleeping and momentarily oblivious to what was about to happen to her. I’d approach, loom over her lit up and grinning like a Jack o’ Lantern to shout, “Wake up!”

How shocked my mother must have been on these mornings, I can only guess. 

Alongside a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and atop a breakfast tray I had clumsily painted a rainbow on, the Mother’s Day breakfast tower was served.

Can you imagine? To be roused before dawn from a peaceful Sunday morning sleep, to then be immediately expected to eat a dozen cold, soggy pancakes coated in every form of sugar kept in the house. And to have to choke it down while your spooky little kid unblinkingly watches. 

She must have been exhausted. She must have dreaded this breakfast every year.

But she would just smile with sleepy eyes and eat as much as she could while I watched.

Thanks, Mom. 

And to all the parents, grandparents, guardians, older siblings acting like parents, very involved uncles, or what have you– thanks for looking out for those spooky kids.

For some recipes that would be far less shocking on mom’s system, check out these Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas


  • Minerva
    May 6, 2021 at 2:18 am

    This is adorable. Thank you for sharing!

    • Imperfect Foods
      May 11, 2021 at 11:34 pm

      Thanks so much for reading! 💚

  • Marsha King
    May 6, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    That’s the greatest story ever for me as a Mom & 5 Grandchildren!! Regardless if true or not! My Grandson could use this for a sleepover bedtime story , so cute !
    We have our own hens here farm fresh range free. They enjoy what we can’t use up or eat as well, so we get whatever veggies produce they’re allowed if I can’t use up in time some raw, some of coarse like Acorn squash cooked up! Nothing ever goes to waste here!! Great Job y’all are doing ! We’re enjoying your expanded items !! ♥️💯

    • Imperfect Foods
      May 11, 2021 at 11:35 pm

      Aww thanks so much for the love, Marsha! We’re so glad you enjoyed it 💘

    May 6, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    That was the cutest, sweetest story about a kid making mothers day breakfast that I’ve ever read. I hope that one day when my son is older that he will do this for me.

    • Imperfect
      May 18, 2021 at 8:16 pm

      Melts our hearts! 💚


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