Saturday, October 21, 2006

Every Day is Mother's Day

One Mother’s Day back in the early 1960’s, my brother and I asked our mom why there was a “Mother’s Day” holiday. She answered, “Because every day is ‘Kids’ Day.’” I remember us looking at one another with a mixture of guilt and glee. I also recall the guilt fleeing quickly. “Kids’ Day? Cool!”

My own Mother’s Days – and there have been 20 of them! – are pretty nice, but nothing extraordinary: I sleep late, maybe the kids bring me some breakfast in bed, I get both homemade and Hallmark-made cards, we go out for dinner or order my favorite take-out. Kind of like most Sundays, minus the cards!

There was one Mothers Day that does stand out. When my now 19-year-old son, Kenny, was 12, he spent about an hour in his room with the door locked. He was banging on the walls and I was trying to nap and it drove me crazy, but he wouldn’t let me in. Finally he asked me to come to his bedroom. “Okay, just slowly open the door,” he instructed, as the rest of the family stood outside with him in the hallway. As I turned the knob and began to walk in, my then-favorite song (R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”) started playing and in the darkened room Christmas lights blinked brightly; lights that had been strung up all over one wall to read: “Mom.” It was a very memorable and treasured moment. Especially because it would be six more years before Kenny even uttered “I love you, Mom” again!

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the plaster hand-prints, the popsicle frames and the tiny flowers grown in egg cartons. They are beyond special. I also adore the placemats with poems laminated onto them forever, as well as the wire hangar mobiles. But it’s the everyday gifts that my children bring me that mean even more.

My daughter Janet and I will sometimes have a “girl” day on a random Saturday or Sunday. We’ll get a manicure at Hollywood Nails, see a movie at the Playhouse, the obligatory after-movie ice cream at Baskin Robbins and an hour of window shopping or actual shopping, during which she will open up her little heart to me about all manner of subjects. I’m her confidant and her temporary guide through the beginnings of middle school and it is an honor. When she comes home from school with a passing grade in a subject she is struggling with and thanks me for helping, that’s a gift, too. An unexpected but needed hug from Janet when I’ve had an emotionally draining day on the war watch is the best present, too.

When Jack, 8, wants me to lie down next to him and cuddle at bedtime: great gift. The first time Kenny called from college this school year and solicited my advice and took it: awesome moment. The fact that he phones me after he leaves each final exam to tell me he’s aced it: priceless. Blake emailing me from Fallujah last Friday: you can imagine how incredible.

Every day can be Mother’s Day if you but look for the kudos your kids are giving you. They are there, sometimes buried, sometimes right between your eyes. Yet it is still nice to have one day “named” after us mothers and to have your spouse shower you with praise and spring posies. And this year, honey, a gift certificate to Garineh’s Spa would be oh-so-lovely as well. Remember: Father’s Day is next month and pay-back’s a, well… a great thing!

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