Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Under an Overcast Sky

Well, Mother's Day is over. I must say it's a bit of a disappointment, not because my own children's verbal "happy mother's day" wasn't enough. Not because here it was chilly and drizzly and dark out all day, and the rhododendrons that visit for just a week per year drooped with the heavy wetness, and the cherry blossoms sagged and seemed to blend into the monochrome scene. Or because I'd stayed up through the night working, to see the dawn before stealing three hours' sleep. That set the stage, though.

Actually, it was a somewhat sad day because I have no mother to celebrate. Both my own and my husband's mothers are gone. My friends are all mothers, yes, and we wish each other Happy Mother's Day with a true appreciation of how we need sincere and not perfunctory expressions.

In the last years of my mother's life, I would make her cards, as I always had, with poems that included recollections, and each year I would try with greater desperation to let her know how much her incessant cheerfulness and shyness and easy-goingness meant to me. Because I knew that as a mother, I was so inferior to her in those particular essences of constancy and security that give children the confidence and basis from which to fly.

When, as a pre-teen and teenager, I would be obstinate or eccentric, she would calmly rebut my behavior-- but I could be stubborn, and, exasperated, without raising her voice, her only recourse would be to say, "when you're a mother, you'll understand," or, "just wait till you're a mother, and YOUR child acts like that!"

Well, I never got it until her prophecy was fulfilled. Just as I wouldn't eat off the plates that had come from my grandmother's home, my own children had their own nonsensical quirks. Food that is good but within a month of it's stamped upcoming "due date" is rejected by one of my offspring. Another one leaves clothes and wet towels on the floor. Another child won't budge off the couch and demands to be served. One answers back; another often makes me verbally walk on eggshells...and as I try my insufficient best to instruct and not succumb and guide and provide support, now, from this angle, I see the complexities. Not that my children are bad--to the contrary, each is uniquely wonderful, and I am astoundingly blessed.

But I see that without knowing it, I must have caused my mother distress, and sadness, because now I'm on the other side, and...whattaya know--with all the joy, here it is.

And here Mother's Day escaped, and my kids are too old to have made me a seed-pod broach or painted necklace in school, the charming gifts that mean more than buying a balloon at the supermarket. I do lament that, but what I lament far more is that in the week before Mother's Day I had no one for whom to write MY poem.

When I went back to my parents' house after my Dad's passing to collect whatever I might stuff in a carry-on as my inheritance, I gathered all their old photo albums and old letters and a few printed table linens from the 30s...and found all my old hand-made Valentines and birthday cards and Mother's Day and Father's Day many, for so many years, some with yellowed scotch tape still on their backs, and others with thrumbtack holes.

It must be the weather that makes me melancholy. I think I just need a good dose of springtime sun.

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