By Dan Brooks
|As my answering machine will tell you, Mother’s Day was last weekend, or possibly the weekend before. In addition to being the parent most easily identified in a court of law, a mother is a special person in the life of a child of any age, even well into one’s thirties.|
She picks us up when we are low. She picks us up when we are released. She makes wall hangings with popsicle sticks and popsicles with toothpicks. She demands to know where the vodka is, accusing us of hiding it from her or even stealing it for ourselves despite the fact that there is an empty bottle of Popov right there on the kitchen counter, and when we point that out she asks us what the fudge she’s supposed to do with an empty fudging bottle, cakesuckers. She actually says “fudge.” It’s cute, or it will be later.
Most importantly, she is not to be trifled with. Ask anyone who has tried to come between a mother and her child, or ask your adult ability to form intimate relationships. I still remember what my own mother said about the special bond between a parent and a child. “Was that the beep?” she said. “Listen, sugar for brains, I don’t know if you know what day it is, but you’d better pull your head out of—BEEP.”
What I’m saying here is that M is for the many memories you have given each other, and now that we’re out of vodka a mother’s memory is not so easily erased. If you forgot this most recent Mother’s Day, as I did, you won’t just be able to undo it with six daffodils from the planter outside Sephora. But take heart. As my father said the last time we saw him, not everything is some big catastrophe. Mother’s Day is only forty-eight to fifty-one weeks away, and if you follow a few simple guidelines, you can make it one you’ll both remember.
A lot of people express their gratitude on Mother’s Day by pointing out the many sacrifices a mother makes for her child, only to wind up with a list of commonplaces as tired as a new-Darlene episode of Roseanne. Sure, your mom was in labor with you for 36 hours. But a day and a half pushing a squirming, bony watermelon out of what she once regarded as her sex organs is nothing compared to what she had to endure later. Women are prepared from adolescence to anticipate the pain of childbirth, but who is ready to sit through an all-boys’ school production of The Diary of Anne Frank? Which do you think was harder for her: changing a diaper or slowly giving up on her dream of a career in broadcast journalism? Next Mother’s Day, take her out to Applebee’s and present her with a cake that says I can’t believe you married Dad.
Treat her like a human being
It’s called Mother’s Day, but that’s because “Happy fully-realized woman with adult needs and desires day!” is not the kind of thing you can shout when you jump out of the closet. (Note: The best way to make your mother happy is to stay in the closet as long as possible.) The best Mother’s Day activities acknowledge that she was a person first and a mother second. Take her to a casino to hit the Nickel Slots! Or the strip club where she used to work in college. Keep putting dollars on the rail in front of her until she admits that she’s having a good time.
Don’t bring your girlfriend
At first glance, bringing your steady girl along to the dog track or wherever seems like a great way to show your mother that she’s an important part of your adult life. In addition to being fundamentally dishonest, this approach almost always backfires. Seeing you with her will remind your mother of her own youth with your father. The thought of this vibrant young woman becoming a sarcastic harridan whose only pleasure comes from asking you when you’re going to finish your novel will likely give her so much enjoyment that she starts to feel guilty, and then she won’t want cake.
Don’t make her a grandmother
Sure, she asks you every year when you plan to have children, but that’s just so she has something to talk about. Mother’s Day is like Memorial Day. Those honored just want you to remember; they’re not really looking for it to happen to sombody else.
Dan Brooks writes about politics, consumer culture and lying at Combat!.