Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Best Mother's Day Gift

Mother's Day is a tough occasion to buy for these days, I admit.  I enabled the husband early on, long before we were even married, by taking over the gift giving responsibilities.  Mistake.  Now, about a billion years later, when I've been buying his mom gifts for at least three events a year I've run out of good, unique ideas and could use a little collaboration.  But, no, I've trained him so well.  He's rarely got anything to bring to the table.  He's actually got a knack for gift giving:  he does great when he puts his mind to it, but getting him to put his mind to it is the trick.  Like I said, my fault all the way.  But Mother's Day is not a time to just send flowers and be done with it.  As a matter of fact, there probably ought to be two of them a year.  It's the hardest job out there.  Granted, some of us perform at it way better than others.  I have to accept that there is some grain of truth to what Kelsey's boyfriend wrote, and in my daughter's last moments she condemned my performance as a mother.  But, it was not out of lack of love or desire, and the hardest part for me is realizing that I'll never get the chance to say that to her.  Nor to explain that any failings I had stemmed from the very fact that I was and am human with human frailties, emotions and limitations.  Like all mothers have.  But most of us try as hard as we can, and live and breathe the role every waking moment, even when we are away from our children or when they are grown, and therefore have earned a day to be recognized and pampered a bit.

For better or worse, we are here because of our mother.  We survived into adulthood because someone cared for us before we could care for ourselves.  Now, before you get all hot and bothered, Dad's do much the same, but I'm not a father.  I have a better insight into the female psyche. And there is something about the fact that we grew a human within us that makes our gender unique.  It bestows upon us a greater mandate to protect and nurture that person whom we housed within us for nine months in my opinion.  When we betray that mandate I feel like it is a greater breach because we made a choice to bring a living being into the world that only we can truly make.  But, also, when we try and live up to it, it's something to acknowledge and be grateful for.  How many of us said at some point as angry children, our words like daggers, "I didn't ask to be born!"  But, really, how many of us are anxious to trade that status of being alive in?

I've expended a lot of words discussing my mom in this blog.  She was complex and, like most families can say, her impact on me trickled down to how I impacted my daughters and therefore, there will be an indirect influence on any children Marissa has.  Even when I specifically tried to change my style of parenting from the way my mother did it, that still smacked of her influence and impressions.  Of course, as I was discussing with a friend of mine the other day, what she and I both find is that we simply made different mistakes.  Idealism is a wonderful thing, but rarely actually ideal.

Greg's mom is very unlike my mother.  She is much more gregarious and nurturing.  Some of that is just native personality, but some of it is the different experiences she had growing up herself.  Younger than my mother, she was spared the impact of the Depression the way my mother experienced it, and as a child during World War II, she wasn't waiting every day for a soldier to come to the door with news of her husband.  Mother, herself raised by a woman who lacked, by all accounts, much solicitude, was steeled differently by the times she grew up in.  My mother-in-law had her own sorrows and trials to go through, as do we all, but the times she was shaped by were different, and she is softer around the edges, if you will.  Like a warm, soft blanket to my mom's sometimes scratchy more utilitarian one.  Yet, here my husband and I are, products of the two diverse upbringings, one not really any more successful or less successful than the other.  And, although they both had highly unique ways of showing it, both our mothers loved us and did the best job they could for us.  At the end of the day, we had to decide what kind of people we were going to be and what we were going to do with the life we were given.

So, this is a long way round to say that once more I made the decision on what to send my mother-in-law for Mother's Day, and I picked the card.  I hope she likes my choices.  Sometimes she probably does.  Over the years, there have undoubtedly been misfires too, but hopefully she knows the thought and intent are always sincere.  However, it occurs to me that maybe the greatest gift of all is just to forgive our mothers for being flawed, imperfect human beings and thank them for the effort they always showed to rise above that, no matter how successful they were at it.

No comments:

Post a Comment