I don't know, maybe it's just me or maybe it is "me". But when I was a little girl, Mother's Day was a big day. On the second Sunday in the sunny month of May, the rest of the world stopped and Mom's world restarted with a bang. No, it wasn't a major holiday, but it was an important one, especially in our family. We never accepted invitations to events such as weddings or dance recitals. We made plans, bought new outfits, sent cards, purchased plants and lovely gifts for Mom and Grandmother. Dinner was special with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, gathered for the big meal. Moms were celebrated, emulated and likened to the female saints who we came to know from their statues in our churches. On this day in May, Moms everywhere were treated to breakfast in bed, first thing in the morning, and wearing their corsages, saluted in their churches as parish priests asked them to stand and be counted.
My father was a different man in those days. He was a family man who held my own mother in a special place. His eyes were not yet dimmed by the fear that now makes him difficult to converse with.
He respected and loved Mother and was never shy about making that known. He lost his own mother as a teenager and it was in my mother's home that he found the mother who would sustain his need for many, many years. My grandmother was his new mother. So, Mother's Day was extra special. He taught my brother and I well. We knew from our earliest days that there was one day out of all the rest that would be the day during which we showed the most love, the most respect for our Mom.
When I was growing up, all I ever wanted was to be a mother. I loved the whole notion of having children of my own. So, it was fitting that the days calculated in determining my first baby's due date started on May 8th, a Mother's Day. Back three months, ahead seven, a due date of February 16th was to be the date. Three whole weeks later, my very mature first born baby arrived. His pediatrician diagnosed him as a real,true, living and breathing example of a post-mature infant. Wow, already my baby was special!
As the years progressed, another baby, our daughter arrived and now my dream was totally fulfilled. A boy and a girl, a husband, house and a fireplace.
I have so many photographs of the early years of our little family. So many of myself and my husband looking happy but tired. We worked hard. We had extra smart, active children and we did not want to deny them anything. Dark circles, hairstyles that always looked like a trim was in order. No fancy hairstylists or expensive wardrobes for us in those days. Just lots of love and resolve to do our very best at all times.
Now it was my turn to be the mother of honor on the second Sunday in May. There were handmade cards, breakfasts in bed, sweetest of gifts, some handmade, some purchased on clandestine shopping trips with Daddy. My own special day, surrounded by little loved ones. A big day to be sure.
But what has happened? When were my children given permission to change this? Who told them it was okay to grow up, to have lives of their own, to live where they want to live and do what they want to do?
I think it started in the college years. Kids away at school didn't come home for one non-major holiday, or so I professed. Stay there! I know you love me! Don't spend your money!! I started to send the message that it was all okay with me. Now that I think back, it really wasn't.
Miles now separate us. My daughter is a mother and it is her turn to be the special mommy for the day. I am delighted that her husband and her little girls recognize that. I would be bereft if I found out that they did not embrace the opportunity to show her just how much they love and respect her. My son does not have children. Nor does he have a wife who takes on his responsibilities. She "does" her parents, he "does" or "does not" his. The day comes, the day goes. No card or phone call. Sad, but true.
My own mother is very ill now. It will be a true miracle if she sees another Mother's Day. She didn't even realize that today was Mother's Day until I arrived bearing card and gift. She's medicated so that she does not have pain. She didn't wish me a happy Mother's Day. I'm hoping that her day today includes some prayers to our Mother in Heaven and some thoughts of her own long-deceased mother, thoughts that I hope will bring her some comfort.
My husband made sure that I had a very nice day. Card, flowers and a beautiful lunch out. Just like he did in the "old" days. He knows I still have the need to feel special one day a year, this one especially since I took on the new role of caregiver to my mother. He did a darned good job covering the bases and I am so grateful to him.
When my mother finally departs, I will give up my Mother's Day expectations and do what a lot of other moms of my generation do, treat it as any other day. Times have changed. My life has changed. Now it's my granddaughter's turn and I just hope they do a darned good job of it.