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word to your mother
by Michele Christopher
Back when my kids were younger, I had all these expectations of Mother's Day. Flowers, breakfast in bed, being pampered, etc. Hey, I learned what I knew from commercials. Every mother gets treated like gold on Mother's Day, right. I mean, we get one day a year where we're shown our appreciation and given thanks for all we do every day of the year, right?
Well, not really, but more on that later.
I'm not gonna blame my kids that most of my Mother's Days sucked. Two inconsiderate ex-husbands didn't help the matter. Maybe I can blame the kids a little, but I'm sure my saying things like "God damn it, it's Mother's Day, can't you guys stop fighting for one freaking day FOR MEEEEEEEE!" didn't help. I had this notion that everything was supposed to be Leave it to Beaver-ville on that one Sunday. Lofty expectation when the rest of the year things were more like Springfield.
Eventually, after the novelty of being a mother wore off and the reality set in, I realized a few things. Thanks comes in many forms, on many days, as does appreciation. Much like Valentine's Day, I really don't need a Hallmark sponsored holiday to express my appreciation toward my mother or to see the appreciation from my kids.
Hell, I don't even want breakfast in bed. I've just been conditioned to think that's what I want. I was just happy to wake up today and see a card propped up by my computer. My kids may not have any money to buy me a present on their own, but they took the time to walk to the store to get me a nice card. That's all it takes. Not gifts, not flowers, not pancakes. Just a little thoughtfulness.
Which makes me think about how thoughtful I am toward my mother. Do I say I love you enough? Do I thank her enough? Do I appreciate how much she does for my kids? Probably. But maybe I don't thank her enough for the other, little things. Like my love of horror movies, which came from her. All those afternoons watching Vincent Price on the 4:00 movie, all those times she took us to the movie theater to see films that most parents wouldn't let their kids even see the ads for. Seems like a silly thing to thank your mom for, but I do.
She also shared with me her love of music and reading. Always a song playing, always a book open. That's what I remember about mom the most when I think back to my childhood. Whether it was a Broadway Show (who else had their mom teach them all the songs to Hair, including the sodomy song?) or Pink Floyd (to this day she is the biggest Pink Floyd fan I know) or 50's rock and roll, mom taught me to be open to any kind of music. She is probably the reason why my current mix CD for the car includes both Fu Manchu and Justin Timberlake.
She taught me how to read before I started kindergarten. She encouraged me when I read the newspaper instead of picture books. She read to me, read with me, and took me to the library every weekend so I bring home a fresh haul of books.
The mom of my childhood dyed her hair bright red and smoked like a chimney and got out on the street with the neighborhood kids to teach them how to play stickball. Sure, I remember all the times she grounded me for stupid things or threw shoes at me or hit me with the spatula. But mostly I remember her singing and reading and playing with us. I remember her smoking and cursing and, as a kid does, thinking that I would be a really cool mom just like her some day. She knew how to be "cool" but how to keep the cool at a safe distance so it didn't interfere with her being a mom. She was a good mom. She is a good mom.
And really, that's all I want to be. So when my 17 year old daughter randomly hugs me and says "thanks for being such a great mom" or when my 14 year old son says "I love you" every day before he leaves the house for school and waits for me to answer him in kind before he walks out door, that's better than flowers on a specified Sunday in May.
Last month at my brother-in-law's wake, friends and relatives I hadn't seen in ages came up to me to tell me how polite and sweet my kids are and how I should be proud of how mature and kind they are.
I'm proud of them and I'm proud to be my mom's kid and that makes for a very happy Mother's Day every day. Mostly. It's still a lot more Simpsons around here than Cleaver. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'd like to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my sister Jo-Anne, whose Mom's Day has always been extra special because of what she went through before she adopted my nephew David, and my sister Lisa, who is having a bittersweet Mother's Day after the death of her husband, but who as beautiful, incredible son named Robbie who will always will be a wonderful reminder of his father, and to all you moms out there. Hope your day is awesome.