Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Gifts of Mother's Day

Mother’s day is a type of emotional Rosharch test of a mom’s relationship with her kids. The children go to school and the teachers have them paint rocks, glue puzzle pieces, color charts and create prose and poetry to illustrate their love for the one who brought them into this world.

To date, I have three paperweights covered with old jewelry, a Popsicle trivet, a tie dye pot holder to go with the trivet, and two button covered heart pins. To avoid massive quantities of duplicate gifts which invariably trigger “Hey, that’s mine, I gave her that last year.” Or “Where’s mine that I gave you last year?” or worst of all, “Mine was better,” I’ve had to switch preschools…twice. Alternatively, I could have stayed with my first pick and eventually gathered enough glittery jigsaw puzzle piece pins to assemble a life size poster of the unfortunate blonde from the movie Goldfinger.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the thoughts; the thoughts are lovely. It’s just sometimes Mother’s day reveals more about how little of the message we send every day seems to be getting through. For example, the teacher of my first born made a sheet with a yellow daffodil on it. Every child answered the question, “I Love my mom because…” and there were sweet things like she makes me pancakes, she lets me use bubble bath, she fixed my train set. And then, there was my son’s response, “She lets me do anything I want.”

As I stood there staring at the strange words he’d chosen, I thought of how I’d promised him I would never tie his shoes again if he quit trying. I considered how I’d demanded he make his bed daily and made him do extra math and English enrichment the summer BEFORE Kindergarten. I’d even refused to get him a Charizard Pokémon card that cost $60 for his birthday. Instead I’d bought him a shirt with the beloved but irritated orange flame-tailed dragon on it that was six sizes bigger than my son because it was the only one in the entire mall I could find. Then I thought about the fact that he currently drives me crazy because he still wears the orange shirt to bed and he’s a teenager!

But it isn’t just my first child with which I’ve had odd experiences owed to the second Sunday in May. I’ve had the same first grade teacher for three of my children. She has them assemble books about their Moms. The results from each Mother’s day have made me certain that whatever else is going on in my kids lives; they aren’t paying much attention to what I do. One page said, “My mom likes to …” I would have answered: write, bake fattening desserts and read. In the books thus far, the survey results indicated I do jazz, (haven’t since I was 17), another answer, play video games (Nyet, that’s Dad), and my personal favorite, watch TV. (No, I’m the person who turns off the machine).

They were consistent about where I like to vacation, the beach. But apparently I have voiced at some point, a loathing of California, France and Japan, as these are three places I’ve indicated I would never want to go. These books show me that what I am doing, even if I think I’m doing something else, isn’t what they perceive. I think I’m jumping up and down and saying, “Clean! I shouldn’t have to pick up your socks every day…” and they’re understanding something else. One thing’s for sure, they aren’t getting that they should pick up their socks! But the books make me grateful that perhaps, the reality I’ve created for them is not as hard as I think sometimes I can be.

The kids have given me glitter boxes and pipe clean flowers and I have loved the love conveyed in them all. Their hopeful eyes as they wait for me to open the presents are more lovely and more valuable than the beaded key chain or a CD sun catcher for the garden inside the tissue paper. The hope in their hearts is what every Mom all over the world hopes to grow and develop by the daily care they administer.

Sitting at the table over a leisurely bagel breakfast, my daughter yawned and asked “What do you want to do today Mom?” I could tell she was already not listening as she eyed her sister’s book, the fifth in a series that the older one had just finished. “I’d like to…” I started as I saw her pick the precious tome up from the table and curl up into a living room chair to disappear in a world of demi-gods fighting in New York. I went to the jewelry box to fish out a few button and jigsaw pins for accessories while I murmured to no one in particular, “I’d like this to happen, just as it’s happening.”

Maybe it is true that I do let them do anything they want. Happy Mother’s Day!

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