Friday, May 8, 2009

Mixed Feelings On Mother's Day

As the weather warms and bright colors bring out the best in us, cheer creeps into our daily dulls and reasons to celebrate abound. It's Easter - break out the yellow! It's spring - let's plant some flowers! It's Mother's Day - let's....ooohhh... ummm.... lemme see.... uhhhh.... Blink. Blink.
On the one hand, I'd like to spend the whole day hugging and loving all the moms I know, showing them kindness and making them laugh. On the other hand, I'd like to get lost in a spa somewhere and have to get massaged and pedicured to near-death before I can leave. And on the other hand (I have three children, hence the extra hand.) I'd like to spend at least that day making my own mother as happy as she could possibly be.
I'd have to work extra hard at that, first to make up for all the mean terrible things I do to my poor mother all year long and then to compensate for her self-admitted tendency to be a Greek chorus about everything imaginable. I often joke with a friend that if I ever told my mother I'd won millions in the lottery the first thing she'd say would be "Oh dear, the taxes are going to kill you," in as concerned and motherly a voice as possible.
But, with all her faults, my mother so dearly and desperately deserves to be happy. She's the most deserving person I know, mostly because she never gets the recognition she is owed. If I had to list the things I think she should be recognized for, I'd go on and on (surprise!). But if I had to list just a few, I'd likely have to include these:
- having me and keeping me, when it wasn't the easy thing to do. Whatever good qualities I have, I have learned them from her. Now, seeing in my own children some of those same qualities, I am doubly proud and gratified;
- being a person of great care in ways large and small. While it's easy to dismiss little acts of kindness, the gentle touches, sincere smiles and handwritten notes in your life are exactly what make it worth living. My mother loves in the verb tense of the word, with amazing grace;
- being a thinker and a learner, always. It's the hardest thing to do to assert to your own self that you don't know something and then to go learn it, even if you have to learn it from someone you used to teach. There's an inherent innocence and goodness that comes with that which I so admire; and
- making me feel safe. Of course, my mother's years of fending off attacks and wearing the armor of a single parent are well behind us. The years of protecting me and carrying us both have worn her down and there are days when the tire of long days long gone catch up and she must rest. She couldn't catch me three steps away from her if she tried (although she's gotten pretty creative use out of that cane). But my mother has a way of making you feel that everything will be alright. She's convincing, I think, because she is convinced.
Whether by practice or pride, my mother will not allow the idea that goodness will not prevail and your best will not see you through. It's the simplest thing, really. The more I parent, the more I realize that those two things - believing in goodness and working hard for it - are just about the most important tools in the arsenal. They allow you to carry on with every day, rejoicing in the best of times and smiling through your worst, knowing that goodness reigns and the road ahead will bring more of it.
My mother always tells me the best thing she ever did was have me. I certainly feel the same way about my children. Mostly, though, I am able to love my children so deeply and truly because I myself was loved so well. I was loved with a story and a soft song before bed, and a warm embrace when sad, and a firm hand when needed. I was loved with food and music and dance. I was loved with color and joy and discipline and pride. I was loved with a healthy dose of fear and an even greater quantity of laughter and silliness. I was loved the very best I could be loved and, in return, I love the very best I can back.
I guess, when I think about it, my feelings aren't so mixed after all.

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