Sunday, May 8, 2011


T. doesn't give Christmas presents and he doesn't receive them very well either. He's an insulting pain on other people's birthdays. And when I told him that it's polite take a gift when invited to someone else's house, he scoffed at me. But he LOVES Mother's Day. Besides his own birthday, which he regards as a national event, Mother's Day is the only other holiday he even acknowledges.

Last year I was touched and taken aback by his gravity about the holiday. This year, I found myself dawdling about my morning routine, waiting for him to wake up, half-hoping for a repeat performance. I didn't exactly expect one - just thought it might be nice.

And again! A big hug, a solemn "happy Mother's Day", and then he rushed Tim off to the store to make preparations and instructed me to "get ready for our day." We're going to the Korean spa to get salt scrubs after whatever else he has planned.

Who wouldda thunk? In my old age, I think the thing that will make me most happy is knowing that T loved and trusted me enough to think of me on Mother's Day. I'm also humbled to share it with his other mothers and touched by his respect and forgiveness for the women who have mothered him along his way. I've said to him more than a few times "You can never have too many mothers in your life," and I appreciate his even-handedness with all of us mothers. On Mother's Day, besides thanking me, he always calls his birth mom and his cousin who raised him for a few years. Each of those relationships was fraught with its own tragedy. But it's in his nature not to bear grudges, lament what he can't change or pine for the past, and his Mother's Day messages to each of us are sweet and to-the-point, surprisingly uncomplicated and uncompromised.

In celebration of mothers and other mothers, I got inspired to make a quick list. These are a few of the things I've realized about being a mother this year.

1. Mothering is very messy. The bond between me and T is full of veins and guts, not sugar and spice. It isn't nice or neat. There is nobody else who pays as much attention to him as I do and my scrutiny is both satisfying and annoying to him, both gratifying and exhausting to me. In the day to day, I experience the practice of mothering him as a very sloppy, intrusive process of getting in someone else's business, taking shots in the dark, snatching opportunities to connect on the fly. It's intense.

2. Kids really need moms and they're never too old to fill that need. I see through T's eyes that the absence of a mother in one's life is a deep tragedy. Early on, I overheard him on the phone once saying quietly to a friend who was complaining about her mom, "You don't know what you have. You should be grateful to your mom." He doesn't care that we're a mismatched set, nor that I arrived late in his life. I play a role he assigned me, driven by a keen awareness of his own need to have one person who puts him first above everything else in the world.

3. A mom can act a mom no matter what. When I was just home from the hospital after my surgery, I was dizzy, hoarse and in some amount of pain such that it was hard to hold my head up or sit up straight. But as soon as I saw T, I was myself. I had the sense that I could be missing half my limbs and still reach out to pick the pillow lint out of his hair. It comes from a place beyond me.

Happy Mother's Day to the mothers and other mothers out there.


Last Mom said...

Wow!!! You have an amazing kid! So many go into crisis mode as Mother's Day approaches. My daughter really struggled. Glad to know there are some who get to enjoy the day!

Lulu McCabe said...

Oh don't be too envious - Christmas falls flat at best, and birthdays trigger all sorts of mess. :)

jaenkes said...

How Great! Ours was very exciting for a new addition as well... the anticipation leading up to it and his announcement (at 7 1/2) this was his first Mother's Day he celebrated! He picked out his own cards and gifts for his 2 mom family and we had a great day too!

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