Saturday, 9 May 2009

Happy Peace and Disarmament Day!

It is no great secret that I am not a tremendous fan of Mother's Day. Last year in this space, I delved into the history of the greatest scam that Hallmark has ever perpetrated on the North American public, but I also acknowledged with some reluctance that there is a true moral dilemma facing all of us on this day. If one subscribes to the school of thought (as do I) that having a separate designated day to heap praise upon moms is tremendously unnecessary, provided that said praise is done on a regular basis, then why is the guilt that comes from external forces to recognize this ridiculousness (those that are BBQing and brunching) so tremendous? If I say to my own children that Mother's Day is meaningless to me, (and it truly is!) why do I feel neglected if I don't hear from them? Have I turned into a classic Jewish mother who bitches and moans? The two-faced monster that has been created out of the debris of Mother's Day is disconcerting to me to say the least. Last year I offered my own mother a thank you list that is still relevant and true.  This year, I thought that rather than look at this retail concoction of a holiday from the point of view of a daughter, I would look at it from a mother's perspective and offer my sons a primer. These are the things that I require from my children and will relieve them of all present and future Mother's Day commitments. Note that none of them involves gift wrap, brunches, wasteful greeting cards or a single flower. 

  • Call on a regular basis. I know that this is classic maternal nagging, but mothers require regular contact with their children. It has something to do with that internal shredding that we go through for nine months. We like to think that the pain wasn't suffered needlessly, and a bit of vocal contact with our progeny satisfies the separation anxiety. (Instant messaging can also accommodate the same thing, but there is a closeness that is achieved by hearing your voices. It sets off the maternal pheromones.)
  • When you do manage to find the time to call, support your end of the conversation. I hate feeling like I am pulling teeth when I talk to my children. Initiate, converse and fill in details. I don't know why, but the minutiae of your lives is important to me.
  • Keep me posted about the exciting and the mundane. Every day isn't filled with life highlights, nor do I expect every day to be a laugh riot, but keeping me up to date is crucial to me. It allows me the belief that I am not an after- thought in your worlds. If you really want to give me a gift, indulge my fantasy.
  • Put a mezzuzah up on your living quarters. I worked very hard at raising what I hope are competent, caring and proud Jewish men. I don't for a minute expect you to believe all that I believe, but a mezzuzah is a symbol that a Jew lives here. Your Judaism is an integral part of who you are, whether you know it now or not, so indulge me. I have a great deal invested in it. I will even provide the necessary item and the hammer to do the job.
  • Keep a measure of family commitment with you, always. While you are both at stages of your lives where independence is sacred, you are never alone and familial support is always paramount. In other words, when you are invited-show up.
  • Remain each other's friend. I realize that I am telling you something that I probably don't need to, but there are always issues between siblings that have destructive potential. One of the great joys of my life is knowing that my two sons genuinely and affectionately like each other and enjoy spending time together. I have no idea what I did to deserve this gift, but I want it to stay for a lifetime. A sibling is the only person in your life that knows you from childhood through to old-age. They are the only person that shares all common experiences and bonds. Friends can know some, spouses know some and parents know some, but siblings know all. Cherish each other and rely on each other's strengths while learning from each other's weaknesses. Watching the two of you together is a wonderful gift.
  • Let's continue to have fun as a family. We can go to dinner, a movie or simply talk about the philosophy behind Lost. We can argue about the Blue Jays, rail against the Leafs or marvel at a new play. We are learning a new relationship dynamic as adults. Let's enjoy it. 
  • I want you both to live happy and productive lives. This means finding self-satisfaction in whatever career path you might choose, and finding life partners that fit with you and your goals and compliments your ambitions. Life is hard enough without someone special to share it with. 
So there you have it. No gifts necessary. Just a few easy (?) life lessons to follow from the old lady that one day expects to be placed in a nice "home" by her boys. I should point out for those that might be interested, that both of the them called today to chat. No gifts mind you, but thoughtful caring conversations. The only hard-copy gift that I received was a single white rose from the clerk at What a Bagel. I appreciated the phone calls much more. 

Happy Peace and Disarmament Day to all.

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