A Fitting Tribute?

How can I possibly figure out how to say what I want to about having a mom and being a mom in a single blog post?  I’m not sure, but I am going to try.  Mother’s Day is almost upon us again and it has been a bittersweet day for me for 9 years now.  It is hard for me to honor my own mom properly, since she is no longer with us, and on top of it let my boys know what might be fitting for me.


Growing up we had a set routine.  Dad would put the same items on the grocery list as a lead up to the day – brown and serve sausages, cinnamon rolls, eggs, something to grill for dinner.  Mother’s Day festivities started in earnest with brunch after church.  I was always in charge of the cinnamon rolls.  Dad had us all snapping to in the kitchen while mom read the Sunday paper.  The day progressed and we could have been hard pressed to tell the passing of the years except that we three children got bigger.  And the sweetly sentimental card that Dad picked out for mom would be different every year.  (Dad was a champion at picking out cards for special occasions.)


public domain image - vintage Mother's Day sentiment

public domain image – vintage Mother’s Day sentiment

I look back now and I wonder because I can clearly see that this ritual was more about what dad thought Mother’s Day should be than perhaps what mom did.  I don’t think any of us ever asked her if it suited what she wanted.


My very first Mother’s Day as a mom came shortly after I gave birth to my older son.  Daddy and son got dressed that day and went out to get me flowers and a card.  Then we three had a picnic.  It was perfect.  I couldn’t say for certain now if I participated in the planning or if our day was based on my husband’s idea of a good Mother’s Day.


Other Mother’s Days followed.  I got feted, and reached out long distance to my mom.  I never understood the moms who said their idea of the perfect Mother’s Day was to have time to themselves.  (Yes, that would be nice on any other day during the growing years, I agree.)  I learned from my dad’s ritual that it is important for the family to turn the tables and take care of mom.  I also learned that rituals are powerful.  (Somehow that lesson worked better for me in the personal setting than in the formal setting of church.)


The next Mother’s Day that comes clearly into memory was the one during my transition to single mom.  The boys and I made the trek to COSI – the science museum in Columbus, OH (we lived in southern OH then).  I had wanted to have a very special experience because we were all hurting.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help my mom from that distance – it was her first Mother’s Day without my dad.  (We’d had a very bad start to our year.)


It dawned on me that year that I needed to figure out how to impart that lesson on my boys – the importance of turning the tables and showing care for mom.  I had no idea how to accomplish this task.


And I’m not sure now if I did a good job in the intervening years.  I do know that there are only 2 days out of the year that my older son remembers that the phone works both ways; Mother’s Day and my birthday.  (Except the year that he blew out his knee on Mother’s Day.)  My younger son has a stronger sentimental streak in him, like my dad, and has been known to make a small or even a grand gesture now and then between recognized holidays.  I expect he will make a special dinner on Sunday.


For good or ill, a mom is a figure who looms large for a child.  It is a most important thing and nearly impossible to get completely right, to be a mom.  The effort does deserve a fitting tribute.  Whatever that might be.


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