Mother's Day

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For me, Mother's Day is one of those Greeting Card holidays: created by men in suits to tap into our guilt as negligent offspring to sell cards, flowers, and macaroni (for the necklaces, you know).  I have long considered it the second most maudlin and demeaning of days, after Valentines Day (If you are In Love, Valentines are redundant, at best.  If you are Out of Love, Valentines are nothing but chocolate-covered cruelty).

It seems to me that if someone is lucky enough to have a mother to celebrate, he or she would be doing so all year long. 

Remember the time when your single mother had to go out of town on business, and rather than leave you at home in the care of your tyrannical older siblings, she turned up in your English class and told the teacher she was taking you with her for a "Field Learning Experience"?  Remember how she asked the teacher for your homework because she'd be taking you with her right now, thank you very much, and all your friends died of jealousy?  That was the real Mothers Day. 

Remember when you had your first apartment and you had to spend all your money having your pet cat cremated, and Mom sent a check to the electric company in your name so the lights would still be on while you cried?  That was the real Mothers Day. 

Remember when you told your mom that you'd found the love of your life, and you were going to marry him, even though she hated his guts?  Remember that her response was not "Over my dead body", but "Oooh - what kind of gown are we going to make?"  That was the real Mothers Day.

Remember when the baby wouldn't stop crying and you hadn't slept in days?  Your mother materialized out of nowhere with a casserole under one arm and the magic can't-miss rubber ducky that had been your favorite thing when you were 8 months old under the other?  Remember how she sent you to bed, did the laundry and poured a drink for the son-in-law she still hated?  That was the real Mothers Day.

And so even though I am now a seasoned, card-carrying Mommy, The first weekend in May is still not about me at all.  Nor will it be, until I no longer have my own Mom to celebrate all year long.  Sure, my own Smallies will make me gorgeous macaroni necklaces.  They will bring me breakfast in bed, including gummy bears and burnt toast.  They'll pick the most beautiful flowers they can find for me in the vacant lot down the street.  And I will cherish them deeply.  But not more than the expressions on their faces when I show up to bust them out of school for the afternoon.  Not more than the way they throw their arms around me when I come home from teaching at the knitting retreat.  And certainly not more than when they take the time to thank me for cooking the dinner, and washing the clothes, and helping with the homework.

This May, I am blessed and lucky to be spending some days with my mom.  Time and infirmity have changed her from the sassy rogue who raised me into a different sort of person entirely.  And while I'm sad to kiss that lady from my past goodbye, I'm also glad for the chance to spend time with this slower, quieter version of her.  She still knows me very well indeed, and though many of our old stories have slipped away from her, she still finds who I am today fairly interesting.  She taught me to knit, but takes no credit for my joy and success with it.  She taught me to parent, but insists that my children are a triumph all my own.  She taught me to pitch a tent, read a map, and tie an orthopedic shoelace knot that will never come undone.  She taught me to laugh loudly, to cry softly, and to keep on pushing forward no matter what.  And she taught me that if I properly love my children, they will know that every day is Mothers Day, all the year long. 

Thank you Mom, for this, and all the 27,739 other Mother's Days, to date.