Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I wanted to post a Mother’s Day blog on the day we actually celebrate mothers, but, well, I was a little busy spending time with my own mom (and dad). And that is as it should be, I suppose. Not that mom wouldn’t have appreciated an entire blog devoted to her, but I’m sure she preferred spending time with us. I imagine that watching the back of my head as I sit at the computer and compose a blog would be rather like watching paint dry.

Actually, part of that last statement is not true. No, not the part about watching paint dry – sadly, that part is true. But the part about mom appreciating a blog devoted to her. In truth, my mom is not one for excessive adulation and if she knew I was dedicating a blog to her, it would make her uncomfortable. That’s just the way she is.

Mom would tell you it’s the age in which she grew up. This was during the Depression, and people were just trying to survive. They didn’t waste much time patting themselves on the back (or expecting someone else to do it). You simply did what was expected of you without any thought to the “reward” you would get afterwards. Frequently, there wasn’t any – unless you consider personal satisfaction as a reward.

I kind of like that. It’s nice to be able to motivate yourself rather than expecting someone else to make the reward such that you grudgingly perform the task.

I can remember when I was a kid and, on the rare occasion we did our chores without being reminded, we’d run to mom and tell her about our accomplishment. Her response? “So what do you want – a medal?”

Clearly, that whole pat on the back thing wasn’t a big part of our household.

Not that mom wasn’t proud of us and our accomplishments. But she may have feared we’d get swelled heads if we were praised all the time for doing the right thing; things that we should do as a matter of course as honest, good, intelligent, hardworking people.

On Sunday, Vince asked my mom what some of her favorite memories of motherhood have been. I think he expected to hear the faint strains of violins in the background as mom recalled all the sappy, sentimental times – like when her babies were first placed in her arms, or perhaps when her children graduated from college or even when they walked down the aisle. And he was all prepared to be touched by her response.

And then mom said, “When my children left home.”

You could almost hear the violins screech to a stop mid-note. And the expression on Vince’s face was priceless.

But mom’s comment cracked me up. Sure, there was probably some element of relief whenever another one of her chicks flew the nest because – let’s face it – raising four kids who were within six years of age of each other couldn’t have been a piece of cake. Particularly having to endure us all as teenagers.

But having her children leave the home they grew up in meant that my parents had done their job and had raised children to stand on their own and make their own way. To my parents, that was one of their greatest accomplishments.

Now I’m sure my mom and dad had sappy, sentimental moments when their babies were first placed in their arms and had prideful moments when they watched their children graduate from college and flashed back to memories of their little boys and girls while watching their adult sons and daughters walk down the aisle. (In my case, I’m guessing there were feelings of relief that I finally decided to walk down the aisle. No, I kid. Sort of.)

In our family, I tend to be the sappy, sentimental one – so it’s probably a good thing Mom isn’t just like me. Too much sap and sentiment isn’t always a good thing. But I noticed that mom hugs me extra hard when she sees me these days.

As for me, I cherish every moment I’m able to spend with my parents – even if it’s merely standing in the kitchen together peeling carrots for dinner. And I look forward to our weekly phone calls.

As more and more of my contemporaries lose their parents and no longer have them around to wish them a Happy Mother’s (or Father’s) Day, I know that it’s truly a gift that my parents are still here with us.

{Sappy and Sentimental Alert!}

So, Mom, I just want to tell you that I love you very much. I know we don’t really say that a lot in our family, but I know you love me. And I just want you to know how I feel, too.

I thank you for all you’ve done for me throughout my life.

Thank you for being there whenever I’ve needed you – from the Band-Aids you applied to my skinned knees to the comfort you gave me at the loss of a job.

Thank you for listening to me when I wanted to tell you something funny or sad or interesting or outrageous. Thank you for laughing and commiserating and paying attention and being outraged (all at the appropriate times, too.).

Thank you for instilling in me the values that enabled me to grow into a (relatively) honest, good, intelligent, and hardworking person.

And thank you for embracing and welcoming my husband into our family.

Happy Mother’s Day. Let’s do this again next year. Okay?

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