Happy Mother’s Day. It’s that day of the year again, and here we are walking proud as punch, taking bows we probably don’t deserve. I think we are entitled to this one day, right? Just for today, let me bask gloriously, unashamed, in the effusive protestations of love and devotion from my children. Go on, mommies, you do the same.
It is a great day! It is a special day for florists, who have had orders stacked sky high for weeks, especially for roses and orchids. The boom, they say, is topped only by Valentine’s Day. Restaurants are fully booked, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyone is happy all around.
Being a mom is no easy task. I look at my own daughters and am still learning, alas a little too late, what good mommies are all about.
I am blessed with six marvelous, wonderful children who today are parents themselves (one is a grandparent!) and yet there are times I feel like I still need to raise them. Raising a child is never done, not in his mother’s eyes. Sorry, kids, that’s just the way it is.
I have read articles on how parents must detach when their children are of a certain age. That’s all very well and good. But are they talking about mothers, too? They are? How is it possible to stand idly by and see your child headed for disaster and do nothing? Whether he is six or 60, wouldn’t you instinctively try to keep him safe?
They say that mothers are gifted with a special instinct about their children; that there is just that certain “knowing.” This can also be a curse. I have been called a doomsayer, overprotective, even paranoid. Well, I’d rather be mocked than see my children (and now my grandchildren) come to harm.
I have been admonished to let them be, reassured that they will learn. I have been warned not to lean. Friends and family urge me to let go, to let them learn on their own. And in my heart it all makes sense. But this is the hardest role a parent (or grandparent) has to play.
Notice how blurred my borders are between mama and lola? But can you watch one of your own making a mess of his life and not say a word?
There is, of course, a price to pay. How many times have you heard your child say, “You don’t love me.” Or worse, how often have you seen it in his eyes?
My favorite American humorist Erma Bombeck has answers in her masterpiece, “A Mother’s Love.”
She says, “Someday, when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a mother, I’ll tell them:
‘I loved you enough to bug you about where you were going, with whom and what time you would get home. I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover your handpicked friend was a creep. I loved you enough to make you return a Milky Way with a bite out of it to the drugstore and confess, “I stole this.” I loved you enough to ignore “what every other mother” did. I loved you enough to let you stumble, fall and fail so that you could learn to stand alone. I loved you enough to accept you for what you are, not what I wanted you to be. But most of all, I loved you enough to say no when you hated me for it. That was the hardest part of all.’”
I have compared notes with my contemporaries. Do they have the same fears? Do they stand on the sidelines biting their tongues? I know some once-feisty women who have lost their edge. Much has changed in my attitude, as well. It must be age, or perhaps the wear and tear caused by emotional upheavals where no one emerges unscathed.
Loud and clear
I kind of miss my old, in-your-face kind of spunk. When did it get so easy to throw in the towel? I guess that after all these years, the message has finally come in, loud and clear. I can do nothing about it.
To all the mothers of my era, a toast! Go out there and celebrate. And for the young ones, here’s a gentle nudge, just a reminder that, as much as you do as mommies, as tired as you get, as eager as you may be for your kids to let you at last have a life, you will look back with sadness, even regret, on that beautiful time of your life when you were the end-all and be-all for your children. Enjoy now. One day you will, like the rest of us, weep and wonder, where did it all go?
Here’s another gem from Erma Bombeck’s “No More Oatmeal Kisses.”
“One of these days you’ll shout: ‘why don’t you kids grow up and act your age?’ And they will. Or, ‘You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do, and don’t slam the door.’ And they won’t. You’ll straighten out the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy; bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. And you’ll say out loud, ‘Now I want it to stay this way.’ And it will. You’ll say, ‘I want complete privacy on the phone.’ And you’ll have it. No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets. Imagine, a lipstick with a point on it. Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. No PTA meeting. No car pools. No blaring radios. Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal. No responsibility.
“Only a voice crying, ‘Why don’t you grow up?’ And the silence echoing, ‘I did.’”
Feliz Dia de las Madres, Mama, Lulu Corrales Razon.