Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy (sort of made-up) Holiday!!!

Yes, it's Mother's Day. The one day of the 365 and 1/4 days in a year that we are supposed to celebrate how fantastic our mother (or mothers or grandmothers or whatever) are.
I am not a fan of this holiday, nor is my own mother. She and I are of a like mind about today: It's a day that has been pushed by companies as a way to make a ton of money.
Now, am I really saying that you buying your mommalah flowers for today makes you a pawn of "The Man"? No. It means that you love your mother...but you feel you have to give a physical manifestation of that love.
Let's start at the beginning.
There is a historical background to Mother's Day, believe it or not (Look Here for proof). Yes, the Ancient Greeks did celebrate Rhea, but notice that it really isn't until only 134 years ago that someone went, "Hey, let's celebrate the mothers for all that they do!" Less than a hundred years ago (1914), President Wilson stepped forward and said, "National Holiday for MOMS!!!"
That being said, it's only been the last few years that stores have REALLY pushed the "Buy it...for MOM!" aspects of this time of year. I was in Brookdale Mall the other day (sadly), and a jeweler (I won't name the store) followed me across the outside of the store trying to explain to me why I needed to purchase a $3,000 necklace for my mom. "She did raise you, you know," was his plea.
As I said before, if you bought something for your mom or you sent a card, that doesn't make you a pawn. It shows you love your mom. That's great. For me, I just don't like the aggressive campaigns.
YOU forgot to buy your mother a gift?! How dare you spurn the woman who only went through HOUR UPON HOUR of labor FOR YOU!!!! You will burn in HEEEELLLLLLLLL!!!!
You get the idea.
This year I bought my mother and my sister (who is a mother as well)...nothing. I also bought my wife's mother, grandmothers, and aunts...nothing. I wished them well and told them, "Have a happy Mother's Day!" I think that's enough. Why? Because why do I need to give them something to show how much I appreciate them for being a mother? Is that what we have become? It feels like the conversation goes like this:

I love you!
Do you really? Then why don't I have a new cell phone?
Because love is something that shouldn't be turned into a physical's a feeling.
Really? Because Jeff bought his mom a Hi-Def DVD Player. He loves his mom enough to spend $1,000. Besides don't you expect gifts on your birthday? This is the same thing. You're giving a gift to show how you love her for all she's done.
But why isn't it enough for me to say, and on more than just ONE day I might add, "Hey Moms! You are so vital, and I thank you so much for all you have done," to them? And why am I celebrating other moms besides my own? I get why I thank my mom. I get why, if I had a kid, I thank my wife, but why is it that I suddenly have to give a gift to my wife's aunt who I have only known for six years and really didn't do anything for my wife other than be related to her? I don't like being told I'm a bad person because I just called my mom and sister and said, "You rock, dude!" Oh, and I don't expect anything on my birthday. I don't even get upset if people forget to call. It's just a any other. My wife's parents for the last three years have called her on the wrong day (twice the day after, once a week late). She doesn't care.
This shows me that you don't care. Your wife's aunt was there and may have given advice. Plus she has survived two children with issues. Have you? No! That's why you do it.
Because she's a survivor? Then let's celebrate all survivors! Holocaust Day...with cards. National Day of Recognition for Burn Victims...with salve! Look, I'm sick of all these "days"! We have a day for pirates, a day for secretaries (which should probably be administrative assistant day, but whatever), and even a national PET day! Come on! If I was bitter, I would ask where National Teacher Day is. I mean there are cards for secretaries, but nothing for teachers.
A-HA! That's what it is. You're bitter about not being recognized.
No. That's not it. I don't care about that, because that would be a made-up day done only to sell merchandise. You want to recognize your teacher? At the end of the year, thank him or her for all the work they have done to help you. Don't bring an apple. Don't bring a card. Just say, "Mr or Ms or Mrs. X. Thank you so much for everything." Back to the point now. It's the same thing with Father's Day. There they pimp golf clubs and such. It's really less about showing appreciation and more about getting goods sold. You want to make a good mother's or father's day? Give them the day off from work on a weekday and allow them free entrance to places they can go with kids.
That's just as bad. You're saying that people who AREN'T parents should have to work. That's discrimination.
Maybe, but is that any worse than trying to make someone feel bad because they didn't spend hundreds of dollars on someone. I recently explained to a woman in Williams-Sonoma that I would be buying NOTHING for Mother's Day. Her reponse was, "Wow, you really don't like your mother, do you?" Why is that the decider?
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
So, what am I doing for Mother's Day for my mom? Well, here it is:
Mom. Happy Mother's Day. I love you very much. Of the course of twenty-seven year, you have been an amazing guide and teacher in all aspects of life. I know that they sense of humor I have is because of you. I mean how many people out there truly can make jokes about the language used by Shakespeare (booge)? How many people can turn easily from laughing about someone's 13th car crash to having an intellectual discussion about Quartos and Octvos (which I can't spell)?
So, Mom, in honor of this (sort of made-up) day, I present one of my favorite stories about our escapades (instead of icecapades).
New York, August of 2001. My wife and I are visiting my family in New York. My parents, in honor of my wife and I being newly married and having our first trip to my home as man and wife, decided to have a very nice and very fancy brunch at the Plaza Anthenee Hotel. This was five-star dining, folks. Very chic and very expensive.
As brunch went on, my mother and I started discussing my old high school and its plans to get money from alumni. It seems that the school had created a new department called The Office for Development of Alumni Relations. It was known as ODAR (pronounced Oh-Dahr). My mother and I were feeling punchy, so we started riffing on ODAR making it into a he and making him into an intergalactic villain out to get money. As we kept playing and laughing, the people around the room turned and stared at the two people (that would be my mother and me) with red faces and tears streaming down their faces who were laughing loudly. My wife, bless her, was utterly embarrassed. How dare I go to an extremely fancy place that Donald Trump, of all people, dines at, and act like a buffoon (she would learn over the course of the years)! It got worse. The name of the dinnerware was Alumicron. That set us off again. ODAR's nemesis became Alum-icron. I don't think my mother and I have ever laughed so hard as we did making up stories about the two men and their battles. My family began to ignore us in the hopes that we would stop. At one point my father and my wife both said, "We are in a NICE restaurant, you two...grow up." We ignored them.
The reason this story resonates with me so strongly is because it is the perfect representation of the relationship I have with my mother. She raised me right. I like to believe I'm polite, respectful, and such, but she also instilled in me a wicked sense of humor (of course this was possible because HER mother told her, "YOU will have a child just like you." Little did she know....). My mother and I can help each other out when we need help, but we also make each other laugh. When my mother is down or upset, I know what to say to make her laugh. When I was worried about teaching and whether I would be good or not, my mother was able to help and make me feel better. She's awesome.
I love my mother. I have no problem admitting it. All through school, I would hear kids talk about how much they hate their moms and how their moms did not understand them. I never had that problem. Maybe it's a third-child thing...I don't know.
So, Mom, happy Mother's Day, and thanks for all the fantastic things you have done and taught me over the years. Who knows, maybe I'll have a child just like me one day, and the three of us can laugh together.
But wait, there's more!
My sister is also a mother. She has a very precocious toddler (who
is in the "TERRIBLE TWOS" phase of her life). My lovely sister will not admit this, but she is a good mother. She has managed to keep my niece alive for two years now. Beyond that, this child is very smart and very outgoing (it's adorable...really). Sister One has managed to raise this child while maintaining a career as a journalist and editor. It's quite amazing to see her balance the career.
If you need proof how much my sister loves her daughter, this story will illuminate:
It has been raining on the East Coast for several days now (not unlike here in Minnesota). My sister wanted to let my niece get a chance to run around, so they went to an indoor gym. MJ (my niece) is only two years-old, but she loves people. She runs up to boys in particular and tries to play with them (and sometimes hug them). MJ went and started playing near some older boys (who were around 11 or so). They decided to destroy the fresh meat and shoved my niece off the structure. My niece got up and went up again, only to be shoved again and get a bloody lip. My sister, seeing all of this, ran in to save the day and called the boys on their bad behavior.
"Apologize for what you did, please," she said to them.
"Fuck off!" they replied.
My sister kept her cool. In the old days before MJ, she would have made those boys disappear and got away with it (she is an evil genius). Instead, she told the boys they were being bad and not polite.
Upon seeing this, the boy's mother came over and attempted to Springer my sister.
"You don't talk to my boys! I'll take you down, bitch!" (Yes, this woman did have the full-on female mullet.)
My sister, again, kept her cool. Management had disappeared (of course), and the woman REALLY wanted to throw down. My sister calmly explained to the woman that her boys had bloodied my niece's lip and how they needed to have more self-control. She made the woman see that she needed to be a parent instead of a friend.
My sister and niece left that gym and returned home to play, but I'm very proud of my sister. In becoming a mother, she has learned amazing self-control. Much like all the kids in my family, my sister has the "ANGER" gene. We get passionate which is only a step away from full-on-anger at times. She has learned to control her feelings (much better than even I have). That's why I'm so proud of her for what she's done with my niece. It has been very difficult balancing her life, but she has done it and done it well.
So, to my sister, happy Mother's Day. You are a spectacular mother. Revel in it. It's rare I give compliments.
And if you're a mother reading this, have a good day.


Voix said...

That is the most ridiculously long post I've seen in a really long time.

Nice to see you haven't lost your touch.

Anonymous said...

Adorable child, no?
Please keep her up but for God's sake take my ugly mug off your website- it will scare people.

Or I'll beat you down (joke- I have my anger under control now)

Older of your sisters

Ps what you wrote about Mom was nice and what you didn't tell your readers is that you, you lovely thoughtful boy, give presents for no reason sometimes- which is much sweeter than being told when and what to get by the holiday Nazis.