I was just thinking of something my mom once brought up: ME! I consider it one of her greatest achievements, not because of how I turned out, but because, in spite of it, people who knew her thought the world of her. Everyone has a story like that, and last Sunday we got a chance to remember them. Without Mother’s Day, would any of the other Days have been born?
Let me tell you what my mom had to put up with: Quite a bit. She was the one standing in between me and my father, who usually wanted to slap me for something I did. My mom usually wanted to slap me for something else I did, and it must have cost her plenty to defend me so often.
Not every mom would put up with a kid who played the drums. I would practice in the basement, and if she needed to get my attention she would turn off the basement lights. I wondered if she would use the same technique if I was practicing axe juggling.
Parent-teacher night was another shame she had to endure. I discovered early in my academic pursuits that the academia that I was trying to pursue was moving quite a bit faster than I did. The teachers always tried to convince her that I had a lot of untapped potential as a student, but she finally had to admit that maybe they might have been mistaken on that one.
I used to try to thank her with a Mother’s Day gift, but even though I am great at giving gifts, I will admit that I am horrible at picking them out. I would get her a box of my favorite candy, and if she was on a diet, I could make the gift even more valuable by taking it with me when I left.
Sometimes we would take her out to dinner, and once we went to a ritzy restaurant in Chappaqua. My mom lived through the Great Depression, when they ate dust bunnies as a snack. We are not fancy people. So when the waiter took 20 minutes just to seat us, refold our napkins, move our silverware around and re-style our hair, we were already in a precarious state. Then my mom’s dinner finally arrived, and the waiter uncovered it with a giddy flourish, and it resembled a hot dog, and we realized we may be in a Martin Short skit.
My mom eventually said that she didn’t need a gift, she just wanted to spend a little time with me. I thought the perfect thing might be for us to mow my lawn together. But I realized that even though I wanted to spend a little time with my mom, I didn’t want to spend ANY time with my lawn, and if you’ve ever met my lawn you’d know why.
It was only after my mother died that I realized I’d been shortchanged in my inheritance. I have five siblings and I jealously wondered if they received more than I did. I’m not talking about money, I’m not talking about things. I’m talking about DNA. I could use a little bit more of what she had: patience, gentleness, friendliness, empathy and the ability to smile through just about anything. If I were half the woman she was I’d be 2-foot-8, look better in a skirt and be a little bit more well-adjusted.
Every man, woman and beast has a story about their mom. Even a horse remembers that his mom was a nag, and used to scold, “Don’t be a foal!” and “Cut out that horseplay!” How many sons received that warning, “Get down from there, you’ll break your neck!” How many daughters heard those words, “If they told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do that, too?” Or, “I’m doing this for your own good.” It’s only decades later that we found out she was usually right. So, to all the moms out there, thank you again for all that you do. And to the idiot who didn’t get down from there, and DID break his neck, thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.
Somers Historical Society: for news and information on exhibits, resources, events, membership and sponsors, visit somershistoricalsoc.org. Say hello to Rick Melén at firstname.lastname@example.org.