I love my mother. She’s one of the most pragmatic people I know. For example, take the upcoming Mother’s Day. Mom sent me an email last week asking if Mouse, Train Guy, and I were available to come over for dinner. Now this may seem odd to some. Aren’t you supposed to take your own mother out on Mother’s Day? To, like, a grossly overpriced champagne brunch buffet or something? Not my mom! We’re heading over there for dinner. She’ll probably cook too. And will she be all passive-aggressive and guilt-tripping and pouty about it? Nope. Not my mom! Here’s how my mom’s brain works:
“It’s Mother’s Day and I’d like to see my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, so I’m going to invite them over.”
(My dad’s brain works slightly differently. It goes like this: “It’s Father’s Day and I’d like to see my grandson. He’s going to need someone to drive him here, so I should probably invite his parents too–what were their names again?”)
I hear other moms complaining about their mothers (or mothers-in-law, of which mine is a sainted one). Their mothers are demanding, they give unsolicited parenting advice, they are pushy, they are critical. I’m really lucky in that my mom is not like that at all. Her pregnancy advice was, “Well things have obviously changed because I was told I could drink and smoke as much as I wanted but I shouldn’t gain any more than 20 pounds” (ah, the 70’s!). Or when Train Guy and I were talking about how you’re not supposed to give honey to a baby under one because it could cause botulism, and also you’re not supposed to put a baby to bed with a bottle of milk because it pools on their teeth and causes them to rot out of their heads, Mom said, “Oh really? Well I used to dip your brother’s pacifier in honey and give it to him every night–it was the only way he’d keep it in his mouth!”
I would be remiss to not take the opportunity for an obligatory sibling-jab by saying something like “Oh, so that’s what happened!”
When I became a mother, I saw my own mother in a completely different way. When I was young I saw her as my mother, always older, always above me. As an adult I saw her as a friend. But as a mother, I see her as my peer, my equal, as another mom in this vast group of mothers, all changed, all trying to raise a small person to be a good adult. I realize that she probably knew as little about what she was doing then as I do now. And that we were both reinventing motherhood, crashing ahead blindly with nothing but faith and an attempt to make it all up as we go along, as women have done for millenia.
My mom cries at everything. It’s been the family joke for ages–Mom would cry at the Grand Opening of Wal-Mart. Hallmark commercials were a guarantee tear-jerker. Mom is rarely seen without a tissue in hand, just in case. When I was younger, it was always, “Oh Mom, she’s crying again!” But now I get it. Now, I’m a crier too. And I realize when you love something so small and helpless, and you love it so much, your heart grows to love everything else that much more. Suddenly every mother’s tragedy becomes your tragedy. Every mother’s joy becomes your joy. And those Olympics commercials will get you every single time. Mom is a cryer because of how much she loves me.
*pause to get a tissue for myself, sheesh*
So to me, Mother’s Day isn’t about the flowers and the chocolate and the jewelry and the breakfast buffet and the table saw (depending on the husband involved), it’s about recognizing my place in the world of mothers alongside my own mother. And being grateful that our relationship is not about criticism or expectations. Holiday traditions be damned–if she wants to see me on Mother’s Day, well then she’s just going to invite me over.
And of course, I’ll go. With flowers and chocolate. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.