Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

So today is Mother's Day - a day set aside to honor our mothers and the difficult job they took on when we came into their lives. Face it, we're all born uncivilized little ego-machines and (to use a horribly overworked cliche) it takes a village to transform us into reasonably useful, compassionate citizens. While we're facing things, face the fact that most of the village goes home at night, leaving moms with the night shift - and often the day shift and swing shift.

The date of Mother's Day varies from country to country, but a few things remain constant. More phone calls are placed today than any other day, and boy howdy! it's flower day! Restaurants also love this day - it's actually the most popular day to eat out.

Although we won't be together today (end of semester grading is a pain in more ways than one), my mother is still very much a presence in my life. I appreciate that, for many people, this is a day that may be bittersweet or downright painful. Mothers are incredibly important to our development and to have a lousy childhood due to neglect, indifference, or abuse from our mother is something that I (thankfully) can only imagine. Further, I don't have children of my own (I occasionally borrow, but I always return), so I still have pretty much a grown child's perspective on the holiday.

So I think it's appropriate to look back on that upbringing with a first draft of a list of Things Mom Taught Me:

1. It's correct to address people older than you with "ma'am" or "sir," although once you know them, Miss ____ or Mister ____ can be substituted for people outside the immediate family circle. Hence, "Miss Lucy" might teach your Sunday School class.
2. Know how to cook. The food you create doesn't have to be fancy, but it's better for you and much, much cheaper. (True. I even know how to make jellies and can vegetables. And once I learned that "start in a cold oven" really means it, I learned how to make a pound cake that will knock your flip-flops off!)
3. A clean house is nice, but it's better to step on the occasional Lego or crayon and have happy kids. (Overheard: "I'd rather raise kids than grass.")
4. Playing outside is a good thing - how else will you learn that drinking from a garden hose not only won't hurt you, but also actually tastes really good if the day is hot enough?
5. When currying a horse, brush with the grain there at the end.
6. Read whatever you want to read, but make sure all homework is done first.
7. Not all adults are right all the time, but we're going to be polite about it. And persistent.
8. Pets are pretty much a necessity, but once you have them, you have agreed to take care of them. (I think this is probably good training to have children.)
9. School matters (quite a bit), but never make the mistake of thinking that makes you better than someone who didn't walk that path. When you need a plumber, you don't need an English major.
10. Being "ladylike" is not a bad thing. People may think that it's out of style or determined by the wearing of hats and gloves, but people are often wrong, and here's an example. Little is less ladylike than snootiness and a disdain for work. The need for compassion and grace remains constant and improving society, whether in the raising of a good child or the planting of an iris bed, generally requires a willingness to get one's hands dirty.

I haven't always lived up to all of these (frozen dinners are my friend, especially during the semester) and like most kids - even the grown ones - I haven't always appreciated the advice. But I do today.

Thanks, Mom! For absolutely everything.

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