In case you’ve been rudely rousted from a long coma in the past few hours, tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I can’t imagine any other reason you could have avoided knowing that.
Given the newspaper, TV and radio advertising, the dizzying internet streaming and the less-than-subtle in-store displays, it would have required a Herculean effort to not know that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And, of course, many mothers themselves unabashedly find ways of reminding potentially errant offspring of this ostensibly happy occasion — like taping the jewelry store’s flyer across the toilet seat, or “accidentally” emailing the link to Flowers R Us to the entire family. Point is, you probably already know that Mother’s Day is upon us — and upon you.
As far as I know (or care, although some of the wonks among us will feel the irrepressible need to enlighten me), Mother’s Day has no true basis in history, mythology, culture, scripture or cereal boxes. I think it was invented largely to provide retailers with an opportunity to pump up a rather lackluster sales month. And sure it does seem like a good idea! I mean, hey, who doesn’t want to do something nice for their mother — so, why not? I mean, mothers deserve a day, right?
No. Most mothers deserve five years, all expenses paid, in Tahiti without any offspring in the time zone. But let’s not bicker.
At any rate, here we are. And, knowing full well that I can’t attempt to rival the prose or poetry of Browning, Keats or Hallmark on the near-religious topic of motherhood, I’ve decided to adapt my usual Christmas tradition of providing last-minute gift ideas to this happy May holiday. Thus, here’s my suggestion to irresponsible (or recently revived) children for what to do for Mom at this late date, with no reservations available at McDonald’s:
Some of you know immediately what I’m talking about, some of you will feign shock and amazement, and everybody else is still in that coma — I think that covers most of us.
Making babies is one of those things that humans just keep doing on a staggeringly frequent basis, for any number of reasons, including none at all, other than the “making” seemed to be a good idea at the time. And, unless Mom was provided with a manual on how to raise kids sanely (which is about as likely as anything that begins with “bipartisan”), she likely made it up as she went along, doing the best she could with what she had.
She may have had access to her own mother, who was quick to provide expert advice based on little more than her own guesswork and/or her own mother’s hand-me-down expertise — carefully proliferating everything that worked well and everything that was permanently damaging, with the same religious fervor.
Or, she might have applied religious fervor! Her church, minister, church teachings, congregate congregants, scripture, interpretations of scripture and/or interpretations of interpretations.
Or, she might have read other books. Or listened to tapes. Or taken classes. Or engaged in online chats. Or done a complete 180-degree turnaround from the way she was raised, because “I will never do that to my children!”
It doesn’t really matter, because here’s what happened, regardless of what approach or avenue Mom took to child-rearing: She screwed it up in some way. How could she not? If she were capable of doing it perfectly, she’d have her own church!
But, I’ll bet she doesn’t. And we’re damaged. We’re all damaged. She’s damaged, I’m damaged, you’re damaged — everybody’s damaged. And way too many of us are wasting way too much time and energy being mad about it.
Unless you were (or are) a true victim of sick, mindless brutality (and if you are, I’m truly sorry), then you’re probably like most of the rest of us: a little messed up. But in most cases, Mom did the best she could with what she had. And whether or not it was (or is) immediately obvious to you, in her own way, she loved you.
Am I asking everybody to forget everything and magically become one, big, loving “Leave It to Beaver” family? Hardly. I’m just suggesting that a lot of us quit wasting time — and perfectly good resentment — over something that is long since over.
Forgive her. Maybe you love her, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ll tell her, and maybe you won’t. But forgive her. She did the best she could, because she loved you.
Then forgive yourself.
Then, Mom, go tape this across the toilet seat at your kid’s house.
And have a happy Mother’s Day.
Mark Harvey is the director of information and assistance for the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 360-532-0520 in Aberdeen, 360-942-2177 in Raymond, or 360-642-3634; or through Facebook at Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.