Saturday, May 9, 2009

How we celebrate Mother's Day

Ah, my first mother’s day, some 18 years ago. I can hardly believe that the time has gone by so quickly. I can hardly believe how young I look. And I can hardly believe how high that hair is sitting and how thick that eyeliner is.

For my first Mother’s Day, my hubby was a doll. He and little tuxedo boy here took me to a fancy dinner out, brought me a rose, the whole works. What I remember most about that dinner is that Tuxedo Boy got hungry part way through, and I ended up nursing him under a cloth napkin as I ate. Which would have been fine, except an older couple came over to see our new baby, and didn’t get the subtle hints that he was “otherwise engaged”. I finally had to announce (much to the gentleman’s dismay) that I was breastfeeding and couldn’t really show them the baby at that time!

Flash forward to Mother’s Day when Tuxedo Boy is 4. He had learned to read, in the meanwhile, and used his newfound skills wherever he went.

“MOM!” He exclaimed loudly one day as we shopped in Wal-Mart. “Sunday is Muver’s Day!”

I was beaming. My son was finally old enough to understand Mother’s Day and was eager to celebrate the sacrifice and love of his mama. I couldn’t have been more proud at that moment.

To which he followed up with, “I have to buy a card for my GRAM!”

And with that, my hopes of the lifelong gratitude and adoration of my children was dashed.

I, on the other hand, was an appreciative child. I took every opportunity to thank my mother for all that she had done – even if she didn’t quite understand my efforts. One Mother’s Day, my dad gave us money to go to the grocery store and buy a corsage for my mom. We had seen lovely orchids in the produce department when we went shopping with mom, and wanted to surprise her with one to wear on Mother’s Day.

When we got to the store, they were all gone. What were we to do? Resourceful as I am, I came up with a brilliant (BRILLIANT!) solution. I purchased a large, glossy gift bow. We pinned it on her proudly, knowing that it would show the world how much she meant to us.

I’ve tried to carry on the tradition, endearing and special as it is. My mother, however, has other ideas. Even when we were children, she was embarrassed by her white trash corsage and refused to wear them. Now that I am 43, she gives me the look of death if I even mention it. I, on the other hand, would be proud to wear a tacky bow, but knowing my children, they would give it to her anyway.

My mother always reminded us that mothers had some sixth sense, a wellspring of knowledge attained only by giving birth. “You just wait until you are a mother,” she would chide me. “Then you will understand.”

When I became a mother at 22 by marrying a man with a 3 year old child, she sniffed. “When you have children of your own, then you’ll understand.”

When I gave birth to Tuxedo Boy, she told me, “When you have more than one child, you’ll understand.”

I’m sensing a trend here. I gave birth twice more, and I still have not received that lightning bolt that will give me unlimited knowledge and perspective. And despite all of her lectures, I’m beginning to suspect that she hasn’t gotten it yet, either!

As a teenager, I received some sage advice from my grandmother. My mom was in the hospital, we were going to visit her for Mother’s Day. She had recently lost a baby, and her own life, briefly, and Gram was giving me last minute advice on how to behave. She instructed me on what to say and what to do…and as a teenager, I felt like she was telling me every move to make, not allowing me the freedom to talk to my mother in my own way.

“I just want to be myself!” I insisted in the elevator on the way to Mom’s floor.

But Gram was impatient and wanted to make sure I was perfect. “Don’t be yourself!” She whispered to me to the other occupants of our car could not hear. “Just be NICE!”

Is it any wonder that I am not marking off the days until Mother’s Day?

All humor aside – although I assure you that every one of these stories is true – I have the best mom ever, and have learned so much from my grandmothers and so many other women around me. I’ll let you in on a little secret, the only real wisdom that I have learned since I had children. We don’t know it all, we aren’t perfect, but mothers do the best that we can with what we have…and when things don’t go as we had hoped…well, it makes for good stories.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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