I remember one terrible Mother’s Day from my childhood, when we four kids didn’t do enough for our mother. I had made a craft project in school but it didn’t somehow register. My siblings may have done the same, but not enough. We didn’t offer her breakfast in bed. We didn’t make cards for her. We didn’t make her the focus of the day.
Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, my elder sister came storming into my room in a panic. “It’s Mother’s Day! We’ve got to do something for Mom!” We quickly dashed off a pillow from fabric scraps lying around and presented it to my mother, who burst into tears and said it was, “too little, too late.”
I will never forget that phrase as long as I live.
She cried and cried, wailing about all the things she did for us and how little appreciated she felt and how much it hurt. I was confused and mortified. I didn’t really understand what Mother’s Day was about, but it felt awful to know that my mom was having an emotion and it was my fault. (Despite my school craft project, I was sure that it was my fault.)
Now that I am a mother, I get Mother’s Day. And this year, I get why my mother was so upset.
Herewith an encapsulation of my Mother’s Day 2009:
- Lovely cards from both sons.
- Breakfast at the diner with my family and my visiting in-laws.
- Major misunderstanding and minor blow-up with said in-laws.
- Church job.
- A deep desire to go to Lilac Sunday, ignored by my husband, despite my having talked about it for at least three years running.
- Passive-aggressive determination that I would go alone.
- Tears, mine. Prompting:
- An attempt to go to Lilac Sunday after all, thwarted by crowding from hell. They ended up dropping me off there, and I found my own way home.
- Tears, mine, amid the lilacs.
- Amazing dinner prepared by my husband, followed by amazing peanut butter pie, prepared by my mother-in-law. Both in celebration of Mother’s Day and my birthday coming on Tuesday.
- Kids tucked in.
- Tears, mine.
If you were reading closely for the moment where my husband said or wrote heartfelt words or thanks for everything I do to keep the family together, your attention was not rewarded because no such words were exchanged. Not even after the tears.
There are some fathers who think that they shouldn’t do anything for their wives on Mother’s Day because their wives are not their mothers. I am mad at all of those men right now.
I’ve realized that the task of Mother’s Day falls to the fathers. They bear the responsibility for teaching the children to appreciate the many contributions of the mothers, by modeling it themselves. Kids are too small and too self-centered to get it. But dads should.
Then again, my kids did do something for me. Maybe what I’m really saying is I wish there were a holiday called Wife’s Day.