Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, as everyone in the free world knows, is Mother’s Day. A designated day that I have never personally had the opportunity to celebrate, but I celebrate my own mom – as well as all the other mothers I know. And I know a lot of mothers! And stepmothers. And wannabe mothers. And mothering types. Hmmm…do “Favorite Aunts” count?! They should. (“Hey, Chloe…where’s my card?!”)

But I digress, which is certainly not surprising coming from me...

Anyway, to all you mom types out there: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! You deserve an entire day for your offspring to honor you. A day? Heck, you deserve an entire…week. Maybe even a month! Okay, so you really deserve to be honored every single day of the year. Except maybe on the days when you have absolutely no patience and you yell at your kid because she left a red crayon in her pocket and you washed and dried it with the load of whites, which left permanent pinkish-red splotches all over your husband’s snow-white t-shirts.

That wasn’t a day to honor you. Or maybe it really was. Moms put up with a lot, don’t they?

My mom sure did. Probably she still does, but we’re no longer within swatting range, so it’s harder to tell. I grew up in the day when we weren’t allowed to talk back to our parents and Mom sure didn’t allow that sort of behavior. So when she’d say, “I don’t want to hear it!” and then in the next breath would say, “Answer me when I ask you a question!” we’d stand there in utter confusion and wish we could possibly blink like “I Dream of Jeanie” and find ourselves on a sandy beach somewhere else – anywhere else but standing in front of mom.

Fortunately, those days didn’t happen often and I was pure joy to have as a kid. Mom sailed through Motherhood with me as a kid. Really. She did! Okay, so I lie. Pretty much all I have to say is “teenage girl” and you know that’s not true.

Because I wasn’t allowed to talk back to my parents, my modus operandi was to go “silent.” And I was gooood at it. I could go silent for days. I thought it was kind of cool, but it didn’t sound quite as cool when my parents would tell people (years later, of course), that “Jane pouted.” Pouting doesn’t sound cool.

My sister used to get mad and would scrunch up her face in a major frown (in case we couldn’t tell she was mad) and then would cross her little arms across her little chest and stomp up the stairs. They were carpeted and she probably didn’t get quite the noise effect she wanted, but for a little kid, she was somehow able to make an impressive amount of noise stomping up those carpeted steps. Mom said she did the exact same thing when she was a kid, so my sister’s behavior always made her secretly smile. Mom, of course, didn’t allow any of us to see her reaction. But I guess it’s true when they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?

Somehow we made it through our growing up years intact, due in major part to Mom. She made sure we ate our fruits and vegetables. Fruit wasn’t usually the problem. Vegetables, on the other hand…well, that was a different story.

“Have a taste of peas,” Mom would say, “you might like them!” And then she’d dump an entire tablespoonful onto our plates. A tablespoonful! That’s like…30 peas! So we quickly learned to serve ourselves and would select approximately 4 peas and put them on our plates and hope she didn’t notice. If she did, she would add about 3,000 more. We then had to learn what portion would seem reasonable to her. If she started eyeing my plate, I’d become a narc and would direct her attention to my younger brother’s plate. “But Moooom…Andrew only has 4 peas on HIS plate…!”

No, it’s not behavior I’m proud of. But it was survival of the fittest where peas were concerned.

As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate my mother even more. It’s remarkable how our memories can differ. Of course, that’s due to perspective. Mom likes to tell the story when I was a senior in high school and a group of my friends planned a trip to Florida for Spring Break. Mom says I got very angry when they wouldn’t allow me to go. That I didn’t speak to them for a week. And, honestly? I have absolutely no recollection of that incident! My guess is that my anger was probably mostly for show because I’m sure I knew that my parents wouldn’t allow me – their 17-year-old sweet and innocent daughter – to go off to Florida on her own with other 17- and 18-year-old girls. Apparently our budget hadn’t allowed for the provision of a phalanx of armed guards, though I doubt even that provision would’ve swayed Mom.

The incident I remember, however, was the night I planned to go to the drive-in movies with my friends. A group of girls would go in one car and a group of boys would go in another and we’d all hang out together at the drive-in movie theater. As you can imagine, the title of the movie wasn’t all that important. And before you get any ideas, people, it was all innocent fun.

But when my friends came to pick me up and Mom asked someone what movie we were going to see (something I’m not sure I even knew), one of my friends answered honestly, “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” And that was the end of my evening. Mom refused to let me go – and no amount of pouting was going to change her mind. Oh, was I MAD. There were few times Mom put her foot down and forbade me to go out with my friends, so this was an incident imprinted on my brain forevermore.

Mom, as you might imagine, has absolutely no recollection of that incident.

So, as I said, perspectives are truly different. Mom was trying to keep me safe until I was 18 and she could boot me out of the house to the relative safety of Ohio State. Hahahaha! Oh, I’m funny! Like there were no pitfalls about going off to college! Have you ever heard of “Harry Buffalo” parties? It’s a Kool-Aid sort of drink made with alcohol-soaked fruit and grain alcohol. Grain alcohol!

My parents, however, figured they raised a kid with a sensible head on her shoulders and she would avoid anything containing grain alcohol. “But, Moooom – ‘Harry Buffalo’ has fruit in it!”

I don’t know if kids at Ohio State still have Harry Buffalo parties today. Maybe they’ve moved on to something more hard-core, though what alcohol is more hard-core than grain alcohol, I don’t know. Maybe they focus solely on their studies and don’t even drink anymore. And maybe I’m living in some weird alternate universe, too. The point is, parents in general and moms in particular are trying their level best to raise their children to be successful, popular, beautiful, rich adults with no ego problems and who never blame any of their problems on their mothers. And who can one day take care of their elderly parents.

Okay, so I’m joking. Sort of.

People who no longer have their moms around truly miss them. I know that Vince does – he thinks about his mom every day. And my cousin Mary Lou once told me, “I miss my mother every single day and wish she were still here with us so I could talk to her.” That impressed upon me the notion that time is fleeting – and there may not be a tomorrow.

We all lead busy lives and sometimes think we’ll call Mom “tomorrow.” Or we’ll return Mom’s call “tomorrow.” Or will take the time to visit Mom “tomorrow.” Without getting all preachy, I think we need to remember that sometimes “tomorrow” might be too late.

I know I’m not a perfect daughter, but I do try to heed others’ advice and I call my mom frequently. I know that I appreciate her every single day. I am so grateful that she is alive and healthy and well – and she is there on the other end of the phone whenever I call. I pray that she will stay that way for a long time to come and I thank God every day for her. She is a remarkable woman. And I love her very much.

So to all you moms and mom-types out there, I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days. Even if they don’t tell you, I hope you know how much your kids love you. And to my own mom I say, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you! And…I’m thinking of renting ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ tonight. Missed it the first time around…”

(Just kiddin’!)

2 comments:

  1. A wonderful blog, Jane...brought tears in my eyes and at the same time made my laugh!! You rock, Jane!! Glad to know you and glad to be able to follow your wonderful blog!!!

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  2. Oh, I remember Harry Buffalo parties! I think if that's all the kids were into now, we'd be in good shape! :)

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