Copyright 2003 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner

                                                  Mother Days

    I'm writing this on Mothers' Day, the Sunday set aside by Presidential
decree to honor our moms and mothers in general, for all that they do for us
and for their important role in American society.  Yes, it's a good thing that
mothers get some official recognition, because otherwise we might forget
that they exist.  Yeah, right.
    As with virtually every other holiday, Madison Avenue has taken a
simple observance and run with it, turning Mothers' Day into another excuse
for a marketing and media blitz.  "Mothers' Day sales" are never one-day
affairs; they run for most of the previous week, while television ads for
Mothers' Day gifts of jewelry, cell phones, home improvements, beauty spa
treatments, appliances, flowers, restaurant meals, family portraits, and
anything else She might desire inundate us for weeks in advance of the
actual day.  Buy bigger, buy better, playing on the mixtures of love, guilt,
and resentment most of us feel when it comes to our dealings with Mom
    It's hard to resist the propaganda that urges us to splurge on Mom; of
course we love her, and of course she deserves it.  My problem with the
inflated hoopla of a commercialized Mothers' day is that it seems to imply
that, if you go overboard on the first Sunday in May, you get to ignore her
the rest of the year, and all will be forgiven.  Believe me, this is not the case,
nor should it be.
    Hubby and I, forty-somethings with no birds left in the nest, each have
a mother with no husband to do those around-the-house tasks that women of
their generation tend not to tackle for themselves.  We, therefore, sometimes
have Mother Days, days where we go take care of those odd jobs and
errands for our moms.  Hubby gets roped into double duty, having to do
things for my mother as well as his, but that's what he gets for marrying an
only child.
    We call my mom Queen Arlene, and hubby's mom Princess Paula; my
mom gets to be Queen because she's older, and because the names just
worked out sounding better that way.  Princess Paula is more self-sufficient
than the Queen, in better health, and she travels frequently, so she doesn't get
as many Mother Days as my mother does.  She and hubby have to agree on a
day when their schedules jive in order for him to go to her house and work
on Ron's Little List.
    Queen Arlene is another matter entirely; visiting her is more like a
command performance.  She always e-mails us a list of things that need to
be done, but, once we get there, she often does her best to distract us from
completing the list, so we'll need to come back soon.  We've worked out a
strategy that lets us get the most done per visit; I take Mom to the grocery
store and get her out of the way while hubby gets a lot of work done without
our "help" making things more difficult for him.  Later, we'll sit and visit
while she plies us with food until we groan and moan at her fifth round of
"what can we eat next?"  Once we've refused everything six times, she's
satisfied, and dismisses us with a Queenly "you may go now!"
    We spent yesterday "dancing attendance upon the Queen," trying to
accomplish our annual combination birthday and Mothers' Day present to
her of buying and planting annual flowers around her condo porch.  The
weather did not co-operate, and we'll need to go back in a week or so, but
hubby did manage to wipe out most of the other items on the "to do" list.
Part of the trouble with him being so competent is that Mom thinks he can
do anything; yesterday, her computer gave him fits when it wouldn't load the
software for a digital camera she'd bought, and he swore he'll never go near
her computer again.  But no matter how many times we tell her "he's not a
computer guy" or "he's not a mason" or "he doesn't work on appliances," she
doesn't seem to believe us until after he's attempted the task and is spitting
nails in frustration.   Then she'll say, "oh, that's okay, it's no big deal, I'll
have so-and-so look at it."  Moms.........ya gotta love 'em!
    Sometimes I think it's easier for hubby to work on things for my
mother when I'm not around, because they'll speak more directly to each
other if my presence isn't added to the mix.  He can refuse food distractions
without her sending me out five minutes later to ask if he's hungry yet, and
he can tell her, "no, I don't work on televisions" without worrying about how
it'll sound to me.  Maybe other sons-in-law have the same experience, and
it's easier to get the job done without the interference of the mother-daughter
dynamic.  And when I visit my mother alone, she's also less likely to press
food on me, or to expect technical miracles.
    Hubby and I are lucky to still have our mothers, and it's only right that
we should assist them from time to time, but I think that Mothers' Day
should be reserved for mothers with children who still live at home, those
women who don't have enough time to themselves to take a bubble bath or
to read a book without the interruption of some small creature demanding
their attention.  Buy them rings and flowers and bring them breakfast in bed
and give them whatever other pampering you can think of on this special
day, because they won't have time to enjoy it tomorrow.  Mothers who've
served their time in the trenches, the ones whose kids are all grown up,
should have several Mother Days instead.

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