Like most of you, I love my mother. Even though she has been gone six years now, not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, talk to her, and remember all the wonderful things she did for me. I do not begrudge others who still have Mom, though it is difficult sometimes to see women with their sons, or men in the Hallmark aisle looking at cards for Mother. I wish I could still be looking for one of those cards too.
Still, I think it is wonderful to have a day to celebrate motherhood. Moms do so much for us even before we are born. Who but a Mom would allow her body to become distorted beyond recognition by this alien creature nestled in an amniotic sea crashing against the shores of her intestines? I always say that God chose the right sex for motherhood because, let’s face it gentlemen, a tummy ache makes us all bent out of shape. Imagine an excruciating one over nine months long? No, only women can handle that.
So yes, motherhood more than deserves recognition, but Mother’s Day itself is a problem for me because it has morphed into something of a retail juggernaut, akin to Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day as a marketing miasma that sucks the joy out of celebrating all things Mom. It is also hard when you have lost your mother to walk around and see the “Mother’s Day” advertisements splashed all over the place, to have to hear all the ads on the radio, and see them on Internet and TV.
Of course, there is also the difficult spot for men who are married and have wives who are mothers (or their daughters, sisters, and so on). The genius of marketing Mother’s Day is that we are almost all required to buy something, take someone out to eat, or to a Broadway show, and so on. Yes, my inner Scrooge is boiling and thinking, “Mother’s Day is a poor excuse to pick a man’s pocket every second Sunday of May.” But then I have also grumbled about Valentine’s Day to no avail because, no matter how solid my arguments may be, in the end gifts are expected and are a prerequisite to marital peace and harmony.
Yes, I will trot out and get the expected (and perhaps even unexpected) gifts for my wife, will ask the kids to make cards (sorry, Hallmark, but these originals are so much better), and mark the day as I must, but I will also go to the cemetery and place an arrangement on the grave. I will pray and weep and then drive home, hear a song on the radio that reminds me of Mom, and then weep some more.
There is also the assumption that even though you may have been neglectful of your mother all year long, that celebrating Mother’s Day with her will provide a panacea, a moment of redemption for you, but that is a big mistake.
A long time ago my grandmother Josephine told me that it was not good to celebrate Mother’s Day if I wasn’t a good boy the rest of the year. I took what she said seriously, and for the rest of my Mom’s life, every day was Mother’s Day. Even if I was far away I would make sure to call her, because I knew if she heard my voice it would ease her worries. I did everything I could for her and then, when she died, I somehow felt that maybe what I did was not enough. I still think that way sometimes.
So, yes, in the end most of us will celebrate Mother’s Day, and each will do it in his or her own way. I will remember what Nana said and, even though Mom’s gone, I will continue thinking that every day is Mother’s Day. It’s just that I miss Mom everyday and it’s much harder on this day, and despite what other people say, it doesn’t get easier each year and I doubt that it ever will.
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