Mother's Day is a true puzzlement to me. I have very mixed feelings about a holiday that forces the average person to honour on one day, the one individual in their lives that they should never question honouring every single day of the year. (Please do not flood my mail with horror stories of unfit mothers and "Mommie Dearests"! We all know that the mother/child relationship can be a very complicated dynamic, but for my purposes here, I will assume the hearts and flowers ideals that hopefully exists between children and their maternal figures. Anyway, I highly doubt if Christina Crawford looks at Mother's Day with fond reminiscences.) The modern observance of the holiday most likely stems from Civil War activist Julia Ward Howe who intended it as a call to unite women for peace and disarmament. Sort of a 19th century version of the Million Mom's March! Her ideas were influenced by a young farmer's wife named Ann Jarvis who attempted to improved sanitary conditions on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line through what she called Mother's Work Days. Her work was continued into the next century by her daughter, who lobbied congress for a memorial day strictly for women. In 1914, President Wilson declared the first national holiday honouring mothers whose sons had died in battle. Within 10 years the holiday had become so commercialized, that Jarvis' daughter railed against the very holiday she fought so hard to establish. (How we went from Gold Star mothers to Hallmark mothers is a matter for discussion!!) Today, restaurant association statistics show that the number one day for eating out is Mother's Day! Florists sell more flowers on Mother's Day than on either Valentine's Day or Christmas and it is the number three holiday for chocolate sales behind Halloween and Valentine's Day!!! My personal relationship with the holiday is rather schizophrenic. Sort of a damned if you do scenario. I hate that Madison Avenue is dictating to me a day to love my mother, but if I totally ignore the holiday the guilt is tremendous. Yesterday, younger son asked if had to buy me anything for Mother's Day. While I have made my feelings of disdain for the day abundantly clear, (when have I ever kept my feelings under wraps?) I couldn't bring myself to give him the answer that I know that he wanted to hear. The mother guilt thing works wonders and I guess I am milking it just a bit. That said, son---you do not have to buy me anything for Mother's Day this or any other year, but you do need to remember that I exist and small gestures like cute emails, phone calls and the like are always appreciated. (OY!!! I truly do sound like a Jewish mother! I have started to chack my kids as to why they don't call!!) But, I am also a daughter and while I know that my own mother shares many of the same feelings about Mother's Day that I do, I also know that she would appreciate being thought of on this day. So please indulge me while I offer my mother a small gift.
Mom-Thank you for allowing me the freedom to be myself and not a younger version of you. While I know that you hated the torn jeans and sneakers, you never forced me into a frilly lace dress just because I was "the daughter"! You allowed me the freedom to be myself, even when that included playing hockey instead of Barbies, and talking football instead of fashion.
Mom-Thank you for instilling in me the importance of family ties. While the little bro and I still cannot fathom how we both emerged from the same womb, we were raised to understand that the sibling relationship is amongst the strongest and most enduring. You have demonstrated this time and again through the involvement with your own family (even when it wasn't always easy to do so) and have shown us that family ties truly bind! (sometimes like a noose-but we get the point!!!)
Mom-Thank you for the cookie recipes. I know that you hate the idea that you are exclusively known for your baking, (as you have mentioned many times in that I am not allowed to mention it in your eulogy!) but it needs to be shouted from the highest points on earth: "MRS. C-YOU MAKE GREAT COOKIES!!!!" I am certain that I have many friends who have maintained their relationships with me simply due to the cookies. For that, mere thanks will never be enough.
Mom-Thank you for demonstrative love. I love that you and Dad still hold hands and are affection with one another in public without care or fear of embarrassment. Your grandchildren never fail to hug and kiss whenever they see you and that is because you have shown them that public affection is one of the best signals of love. You go girl!!
Mom-Thank you for being the organizer, planner, computer doctor, TIVO fixer, glasses finder, telephone locator, trip group leader, purse GPS, airplane reservation desk and directional navigator. It always amazes me all of the things that you can do, but honestly, if Dad doesn't kiss your feet every time you have bailed him out of shit, then he really doesn't know a good thing when he has it staring him in the face.
Mom-Thank you for the inheritance of lactose intolerance, all around stomach ailments, arthritic joints, big breasts, small feet, short stature, cyclical acne, and a gag reflex that kicks in when stuff gets too syrupy. (Yanni and Khalil Gibran comes quickly to mind!!) Thank you also for the inheritance of style, design sense, a love of beauty and a need for cleanliness that is so close to God it is frightening!
Other Mom-You thought that I would forget you! Thank you for sharing her with the little bro and me. Nobody will ever be able to truly understand the bond that the two of you share and we were just happy to be able to a part of it. Thank you for being there when Mom A was unavailable and thank you for never ever believing that you only had 2 kids when we all knew that you had 4! The term Aunt is far too benign a word for what you truly are!!!
Mom-Thank you for knowing when to offer opinions and when to stay silent. (OK- so the silent part took you a bit longer to master!) You allowed me to make my own decisions and mistakes even when you wholeheartedly disagreed with my choices. As a parent myself, it is only now that I am beginning to understand how truly difficult this is.
Mom-Thank you for knowing when to be a parent and when to be a friend. You instinctively understood when the parenting ended and the friendship kicked in. You are the type of friend who tells me the truth, holds a mirror to my face and kicks me in the ass when I need it. I truly enjoy spending time with you because you are the only person in my life who will tell the truth when I ask "Does this make me look fat?"
Mom-Thank you for accepting my choice of life partner and accepting him as one of your own from the beginning. We all know that it took him a while to warm up, but after 23 years I think that he is finally beginning to understand our family with all of it's baggage, bullshit and nareshkiet. (Maybe?)
Finally, Mom-Thank you for being my number one fan. You supported me, cheered for me, sat in the front row at every service, concert and play. You supported my endeavours no matter how odd and jumped in with both feet when asked. (Are you gagging yet-because there's more!) You bragged about me and nagged me when I needed it. You are truly my best friend over the age of retirement!!! For all of this and so much more, I wish you a very Happy Women for Peace and Disarmament Day!