Mother’s Day Cards

I was in a Hallmark store yesterday, looking for a Mother’s Day card for my wife.   There were thirty guys crammed into the six foot wide aisle and ten more waiting for space …  not one woman … the Y-chromosome must come equipped with a procrastination gene.    Judging by the cards on the shelf, there seem to be several categories of male card buyers, probably determined by Hallmark though years of focus groups. There’s the Bigger is Better Buyer who believes that the best way to honor Mom is to give her the largest card on the block … though as a standard-sized card buyer, I’m inclined to think they’re over-compensating.   There are the Humorous Card Buyers who can’t stand to see their Mom or wife cry … or laugh at their attempts to be serious.   There are the Garish Card Buyers who think that every Mom’s dream card is covered with pink and magenta roses, lace, bows, and enough glitter to adorn an Elton John jacket.   Then there’s the largest group, the Guilty Buyers who once or twice a year realize that they haven’t expressed their appreciation often enough to the women in their lives.   Guilty Buyers always choose cards that begin with I know I don’t tell you often enough but … and follow it with a poetic paean to Mom that would make the Virgin Mary blush.    As in … I know I don’t tell you often enough but besides being my best friend, lover, soulmate, and angel … the most perfect wife in the universe … you have been a perfect mother to our fabulous children.   You alone have made them the beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful people that they are.  They are your gift to the world and I am grateful to have been by your side as you’ve worked your miracles.   I’ll try to express my appreciation more often next year. Gack! Me? I like a card that’s sincere and tasteful … so I read a lot of cards before I find the one comes home with me for Mother’s Day.

I don’t mean to be cynical about Mother’s Day, just our tendency to romanticize it.    In my post, Fatherhood, speaking of my father, I said At sixty-five, I’ve realized that loving someone with their imperfections is a truer love than imagining them as perfect in order to love them and this certainly applies to motherhood as well.   I’ve come across great mothers, good mothers, fair mothers, poor mothers and awful mothers, but I haven’t found any perfect ones.   What makes good mothers special is that they continue trying in spite of their imperfections, those of their children and the vagaries of life.    They persevere when little Susie begins to say things like, You’re a bad Mommy.  I hate you.   They applaud the successes and console after the heartbreaks.  When Not-So-Little-Anymore Billy gets into trouble, they realize that sometimes love has to be tough love (and that it’s called tough love because it’s tough on the parents).   They choose their battles and let Lindy learn the hard way, even when they know the outcome in advance.   They learn on-the-job to be the mother their kids need when the on-the-job training, quite honestly, sucks.   They keep Mommying even after their kids are grown because They are always your kids (nobody tells you that in advance!).    It isn’t perfection that makes a great Mom … it’s being there in spite of anything.   Some years ago, John Grey published Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, which focused on the innate differences between men and women, mostly in the context of adult relationships like marriage.    But where are the pecadillos and peculiarities of men more exposed and less inhibited than in a teenage son?    From personal experience I know that mothers who raise boys deserve, as my mother used to say, a special place in heaven.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom who gave me my artistic inclinations, my love of nature, and my taste for spirituality and to my wife’s Mom who taught my wife and I acceptance and grace.    And to my wife who’s been by my side as we learned to be parents, again and again, with kids whose paths were so different from our own that sometimes we just threw up our hands … then reached for another parenting book.   Your calm and grace have been examples for all of us.   And Happy Mother’s Day to every mother that keeps on keeping on, wondering if she’s doing right thing, sometimes making it up as she goes along.    It’s not perfection that makes you a great Mom … it’s that you’re a Real, Live Woman … and you keep mothering anyway.   This song’s for you.   I know, it’s not a mother-song, but somehow seems appropriate.

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2 Comments on “Mother’s Day Cards”

  1. Gotta remember to thank Terri Terri for recommending your blog to me as I have enjoyed reading it for a while now. Don’t comment all that much but as Terri will probably warn you about me, it’s probably better that way so you don’t get chapter on chapter from a book I try to write in the comments section.
    One thing I have to say about this post is about raising boys -my son was sandwiched between two sisters and raised in a single parent home to boot so, considering there were no pms issues with him, he was quite the breath of fresh air then and often still is today -even though he has provided more than his own fair share of the pecadillos along the way!
    Good, down-to-earth reading here today and I enjoyed it very much.

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