Mother’s Day…BAH! It’s just another Hallmark Day! A day to make money on cards, flowers, perfumes, jewelry, even the odd vacuum cleaner? All the things a “mom” could possibly want (to make her life complete) on sale at 10-20-30-40% off, (even 50% if you wait till the day AFTER to buy)…the “industry” makes it so simple to make the day a “perfect one” for the Mother (or mothers) in YOUR life. Why then, when perfection is so easy to achieve…is Mother’s Day still a “let down” for so many moms?
I can only speak for myself… I’ve given the matter quite a bit of thought and I’ve come up with a few possible reasons that “Mother’s Day” can fall short of expectations, desires and even demands. I remember myself as a child, I was the bratty one (my sister was the ‘golden one’),while I, the one who talked back, never listened and basically was…as my mother put it…”a hard nut to crack”. I think she was referring to my head as the nut…’cause I fell on that more times than I can say…it should’ve been cracked by all calculations…but it is still (reasonably?) intact. I loved my mother, I have no doubt about that…but like so many children, I took her for granted. Children don’t really have an understanding of “time passing” and the human body “aging”. Mother is simply “mother”…she always was, is and will always be that …”go to person”…the one who knows “stuff”…the one who cares when no one else seems to and the one who will give you love, when even YOU know you don’t really deserve it. The fact that they are also the people who confine us as children, set limits, give orders, make us eat and do stuff we don’t want to…lament endlessly about our inability to “do what is asked of us”…that’s part of the “contract”. In order for us to have mom for the good stuff…we also have to tolerate mom with (what we consider) the “bad stuff”.
I loved my mother and I know she loved me. Yet, there were times when I screamed at her “I HATE YOU!”, loud enough for the butcher on the corner to hear it. She would look at me, with momentary shock, but her recovery was always pretty quick…then she would leave me to slam my door (loudly) and I would have the impression that I had somehow “won”. Won what? I don’t know really. Maybe the fact that I got that “look” from her, made me think that I had wounded “the enemy”, even slightly and as a child that gave me some “power”. Let’s face it…children are essentially powerless (and yet in some homes they rule the roost…don’t they?). Powerless in the sense that they are dependent little beings with an inflated sense of what they can and can’t do, can and can’t get away with. Parents…mothers…fathers…must set limits to keep children safe, help them to grow and help them to NOT become obnoxious beings that NO ONE wants to be around. Making the rules and enforcing them…makes parents unpopular sometimes…but that is the burden we bear.., we KNEW what we signed up for when we decided to have children…didn’t we?
I loved my mother (did I mention that already?)…and she loved me and yet, my mother and I, I am sad to say, were never really “friends”…but maybe that’s a good thing? Most parenting guides (and the professionals who wrote them) seem to frown on the “friendship angle” of parenting. They stress that discipline and respect of authority are necessary to raise children properly, and parents whose children view them as friends (first), will have a problem with both the “respect” and the “authority” aspects of parenting. So, I was never friends with my mother…she was thirty five when she had me. She had lived through two World Wars, famine and poverty, the loss of her home and so many other losses (too many to go into). My mother was tired by the time I arrived, and planned for me to have my older sister’s temperament so the job of raising me would not be an exhausting one…but I was “me” and I exhausted her. When Mother’s Day would roll around…I would do my best with tissue paper rose bouquets, jewelry boxes made from macaroni bedecked (and gold painted) shoeboxes, cards hat bore crayon hearts as big as I could possibly draw them, and hugs and kisses …as many as she would allow me to bestow…I did my best to show that I loved her…even though my stubborn personality and my refusal to “see things her way”, kept us “at arms” for most for the rest of the year. On Mother’s Day…I let her know she was special and that I felt lucky to have her as my Mama, my Mutti…but NEVER my “MOM”. She hated that word…an abbreviation that was abhorrent…the only thing worse was calling her “MA”…akin to a sheep bleating, I believe she once said.
As I got older (and she did too), there were jobs I had, that allowed me to spend a bit more on suitable gifts for my Mama on Mother’s Day…though I will say she never made it easy to “be-gift” her. She would always scold me for spending too much money…and (in truth) her tastes and mine were quite different…so many things I bought her…I would wind up returning or exchanging and that would drive me nuts! She did this with birthday gifts and Christmas gifts as well…I used to joke that she was the hardest person to please, (and yet , I suspect, she rather enjoyed the attention…my attention (?) that being difficult got her.
It took me many years to figure out, that all my mother really wanted was my “time”. Lord, I was so busy…always so busy in my twenties and thirties and forties…running every which way like a chicken without a head. In my twenties, B.C., before children…I thought it was a sign that my life was successful? So many interests that took me out of my house and a social life and hobbies and a host of other things…I was always “going to” or “coming from”. I am ashamed to admit…even now…all these years later…that I could not find the time (many weeks) to even give my mother a call…I was too busy. I would get a call from her…and she would open with, “Well, I am so glad you are still alive”, which only annoyed me and I would say so. Then she would sigh and ask if I intended to visit anytime soon…and I would hastily reply…”If I can find the time…of course I will”…but it happened (sadly) not often enough. I know it hurt her…and I guess what “goes around really does come around”.
I am now the proud mother of two beautiful daughters…they are my pride and joy in so many ways. Their lives were not “perfect” growing up and I made more mistakes than I care to write about, even to myself. I know, however, that I tried my best to give them, what I felt was lacking when I was growing up…I gave sometimes too much and other times too little. I made decisions that affected them and me sometimes badly, I at times had my priorities mixed up and even backwards…but through it all… I loved (love) them more than I could ever love anyone or anything on this earth. Like most moms (except maybe those in the comics) I was very human, flawed and more vulnerable than my “Wonder Woman” shield would lead people to believe. I grew up a lot right along with my kids…and I learned stuff and am still learning things…every single day! The most important thing that I learned, is that the times may change but certain things remain constant. Though I have saved (some) of the many lacey red (construction paper ) hearts …and cards that declare in huge letters how much my girls love me…there is one gift…that never ever grows old…TIME!
Spend time with your mother…my Pastor once told me. I must have been about 28 or 29 years old? She had been unburdening herself to this man of God and must have mentioned how (insufferable?) her youngest daughter was…never calling and never visiting and simply not seeming to care…etc. She (my mother) asked him to mention it the next time he saw me and so he did. Decades later …that is what I must tell my own children too…spend time with your mother…ME! Spend time with me? I will not be here forever…and I miss the camaraderie of the two of you. The movie nights and the dinners, the birthday parties…giggling with the two of you. I don’t need to share all of your deepest darkest secrets …but maybe you guys could just keep me in the loop a teeny bit more…I would so love that and (honestly) it would be the best Mother’s Day gift ever…that and a bottle of “Happy” cologne? Hey…”us” mother’s like to smell nice!
So all you wonderful sons and daughters out there…give your moms the gift of TIME…your time…now…while it is still a gift that matters to both you and your mom. A gift she can accept (without guilt) and will make her feel happy and loved. Do it…there is no better time than …now… today?!
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!