A “Tribute” to my Mother
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, everyone, so you’d better start thinking about an appropriate gift. I was reminded of Mother’s Day when I was standing in line at Porters and saw someone gluing the letters that spell out “MOTHER” onto some painted blocks. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that blocks are the most appropriate gift for a mother, even if they do announce to the world what her role in life is. If we are going to be honest about the role of a mother, then perhaps a more fitting message on the blocks could be something like “Urine Cleaning Specialist.” I’d like to get that in vinyl cursive letters and put it on the wall over my bed, just in case I ever forget why I am around. But I digress.
Thinking about Mother’s Day gifts got me thinking about my own mother, who, for as long as I can remember, has loathed Mother’s Day. It’s not that she’s being humble, or shy about all the attention she gets on the day. My mother actually hates it because it makes her feel guilty. She goes to church and must sit patiently as people (who usually are not mothers themselves) go on and on about how fantastically amazing mothers are, and she feels like a big failure. I never understood how she could feel this way, until of course I became a mother myself.
I think the problem is that we honor a fictitious, Donna Reed-type mom on Mother’s Day (the kind who cleans her house in a skirt and high heels, who makes cookies for her children every day after school, and who has dinner—made from scratch--on the table by 5:00 p.m. every day no matter what). The Donna Reed mother never yells, never gets confused about how to raise her children, and never complains about the drudgery of her domesticity. This mother has an endless capacity for love and patience and is never caught in an act of self-indulgence. She sews and cooks perfectly. She irons. She scrubs the baseboards on a regular basis. She does windows! Worst of all, she would rather listen to soft classical music than rock and roll. Does such a mother exist?
We need to start looking at Mothers as the individuals that they are, rather than lumping them all into the same category of angelic perfectness. Who can live up to that? Is there really a mother out there who never raises her voice, never burns dinner, and never makes a terrible mistake? Mother’s Day rhetoric leads us to believe that these perfect mothers exist--indeed, they are everywhere!—and that we are the inadequate mothers who are missing something. We hear the talks in church on Mother’s Day and wonder if there is some secret we are missing out on, or if we are just more depraved than every other mother in the world. It’s a shame, a guilt-inducing shame.
I can’t say I would give up the Mother’s Day presents, but I sure wouldn’t mind giving up the Mother’s Day guilt (there I go, being selfish again!). So this year, instead of giving my mother some tacky reminder that she isn’t as awesome as the Mother’s Day rhetoric says she should be, I am going to write her an Anti-Mother’s Day Tribute right here in the Standard Journal. Thus, without further ado I give you
Ten Reasons Why I Love My Mother
10. She has a raging crush on Van Halen-era David Lee Roth (ripped spandex pants, long, shaggy hair, etc.).
9. She keeps a running list of all the Baldwin Brothers on the white board in her kitchen (“Eric, Alec, Billy,??”).
8. She watches reality TV only to be shocked by how disgusting it is (“I can’t believe that Flavor Flave!! He’s so barfy!”).
7. She can fall asleep at any time, in any place, and in any position.
6. Her idea of a good sled substitute is two layers of garbage bags.
5. She fostered our senses of humor by allowing us to stay up late and watch Saturday Night Live.
4. She concocts the most elaborate, bone-chilling, and exciting Halloween scavenger hunts on earth (just ask the hundreds of 12-18-year-olds who have been accosted by Freddy Kruger on Elm Street in Provo).
3. On an ordinary day, she may burst into the house singing “If you want my body, and you think I’m sexy, come on, baby, let me know!” (She went through a Rod Stewart phase, too).
2. She is never in too big of a hurry to stop for Milano double chocolate cookies.
1. She taught me the value of hard work, humility, kindness, peanut M&M’s, always doing the right thing, mashed potatoes and gravy, humor, and Elvis Presley.
This Mother’s Day I hope we all take a moment to think about our moms as real people, not just the angels we proclaim them to be. Do that, and then buy your mom a glorious five pound bag of peanut M&M’s. I think she will appreciate that.