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May 14 2013

Jewish Mother’s Day, With a Side Order of Guilt

By at 2:00 pm

darth vaderDon’t go on Facebook on Mother’s Day.

“Look at the breakfast my kids cooked for me,” one of my friends posted, proudly displaying a picture of some beautifully plated granola, coffee, and bud vase of flowers. Honestly. Other friends posted several photos of floral bouquets of varying size. There were status messages that said things like, “Oh, thank you so much, blah blah husband, for letting me sleep until 11! I have the best family in the world!”

When you write, “I have the best family/husband in the world,” the only thing it’s really conveying is “and YOU DON’T!” (Out of curiosity, how would one possibly measure the “best” spouse in the world? In good deeds? Penis/breast size? Bank account? Some combination thereof? And what does it matter if your spouse is the “best in the world”–doesn’t it matter more that that person is the best for you?)

This is all rhetorical, because as it happens, I have the best spouse in not only the world, but also the unexplored furthest reaches of the universe. So there. He let me sleep late (7:30, BITCHES!), put the chocolate croissants I defrosted in the oven at the appropriate temperature, changed various diapers and basically did what he does, without complaint, every day. I let him have a day off from peeling grapes and dropping them into my mouth as he fans me with peacock feathers, though, because I am really nice that way.

My kids, on the other hand?

Sigh.

Okay, let’s let two of them off the hook. The little ladies at this point are both functionally illiterate, and only one of them can form two-word sentences, three in a pinch (“DO IT MYSELF!!!!”). So they weren’t going to be able to say “Happy Mother’s Day,” much less pen me a thoughtful note.

But oh, the other two.

My second son basically admitted that he is a semi-repentant recidivist criminal with his gift.

Me: A picture frame! Thank you very much!

R: It’s to replace the one I broke when I threw my ball in the house. You remember?

Me: Yeah. (Opening next gift) Um…another picture frame! …and it’s the exact same as the other one…?

R: So we have a backup in case I do it again.

Nice. And my firstborn? He gave me a big pen-and-paper drawing of Darth Vader that he had done himself (well done, for the record), with the words, “Love you, Mom!” scrawled across the top.

Huh? I’m just not going to even try to read into that anymore. Really, do I remind you of the evil leader of a genocidal Death Star?

Really, guys? I put my professional career practically on hold to be home with you, I spend just about every second of the day addressing your every need, and THIS IS THE THANKS I GET? One guy basically telling me he’s going to play ball in the house again and the other one likening me to a famous movie villain?

I know, I know… even I gave the advice (just last Friday!!!!) not to read too much into this stupid holiday. But I gotta say, I was a little disappointed.

Look, I don’t need big gifts. And I hate breakfast in bed, except in contexts where I am leaving said crumb-filled, coffee-stained bed to some poor hotel cleaning service. And my allergies are so brutal that flowers would basically be a time bomb.

But WOULD IT KILL YOU KIDS TO CONVEY A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE AND APPRECIATION?

I said none of this. I gritted my teeth and smiled. After all, the onus was on me to teach them what was important–and that was the part that really hurt. Because surely if I’d been doing a good enough job as a mom, they’d GET that they were supposed to put a little effort into conveying their love and appreciation of me. Just a little!!! For the love of God! So the failing wasn’t theirs, but mine.

Happy Jewish Mother’s Day, with a side order of guilt.

The next day, I was cleaning out the boys’ backpacks. As I dug through the crap and various apparent experiments in how to grow mold in the older boy’s bag, I found a card.

“What’s this?” I asked him as he got himself a glass of water.

“Oh…it’s a card for you!” he smiled sheepishly. “I forgot to give it to you yesterday.”

I opened it.

If mothers were flowers, it read, you would be the most beautiful orchid. I love you! If I could pick any mom in the world, it would be you. Love, Z.

I picked my jaw up off the floor. “Thank you so much. I love you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, grinning. “Sorry I didn’t give it to you yesterday.”

“Oh, I have something for you too,” my other son said, wandering into the kitchen. “I forgot to give it to you too.” He pulled it out of his backpack and handed it to me.

My mom is as pretty as a rose. She is as sweet as hot fudge. She is as smart as Einstein. She is as special as a treasure chest full of gold! My mom loves to read and write, and makes everyone laugh. She is so special because she is always helping people, all the time.

Okay, kids, you’re redeemed.

And maybe I am, too.

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