“I don’t really get Mother’s Day,” I told a friend. “It’s not as if a card or a flower can capture our gratitude and love–especially not when they’re prescribed!”
“You’re taking it too seriously,” she answered. “It’s just an opportunity to acknowledge our moms and do something nice for them. It doesn’t have to encapsulate the entirety of our appreciation of them.”
My friend’s words stayed on my mind as I went to university that day, the word “entirety” in particular. What is the full breadth and scope of our appreciation of our parents?
The bus huffed and puffed through the streets of Jerusalem, and young mothers caught my eyes wherever I looked.
I saw mothers soothing crying babies. I saw mothers somehow shepherding a gaggle of toddlers on and off the bus, never (or almost never) losing a child, a baby sock, or their patience along the way. I saw expectant mothers carefully making their way to empty seats before turning on their laptops. I saw mothers pointing out cars and trees to older children, while rocking on their toes to get the baby in the carrier to fall asleep.
And I saw women in suits and heels and elegant blouses, discreetly wiping chewed banana off their jackets while talking with their clients, and their nannies, on the phone.
We are powerful, I thought, and got off the bus in the university’s campus. We are superwomen. We multitask, we manage, we guide, we encourage, we raise.
We master the art of distraction (“Ooo, forget about the broken toy for a second, look at that funny bird!”), the art of sales (“Today we’re not having eggs and veggies for dinner, we’re having yellow faces with cucumberish hair and tomato-based eyes!”), and the art of prescience (“You’re about to fall apart in two minutes, so let’s go home now.”).
We acquire the nimbleness of a ninja warrior (“Caught you before you fell!”) and the proverbial eyes in the back of our heads. And we do so, I thought and walked to my favorite corner of the library, as we pursue our own dreams and ambitions. We raise little humans and we grow up as well.
But our children, I thought, and stopped walking, won’t get to know us as we are today. They’ll probably remember our games and our rules and our time with them. But they won’t remember how hard we worked to meet our professionals deadlines while they slept, so as to be able to chat with them leisurely in the morning.
They won’t remember how difficult it was to put a smile on our face and be playful during dinner time, when we were worried sick over a client, or fatigued. They won’t remember how we sat and brainstormed into the night with our partners and girlfriends, looking for activities that will develop them and meet their particular, individual needs.
They might remember the chat in the morning and the fun during dinner and the outing we took them on after our brainstorming was complete. But they won’t remember what went into any of it, not when it’s not something they can see.
By the time my children will get to know me as adults among adults, I will be older. I will have less energy to run around and tumble and create. And when they will encounter the challenges of parenting for the first time, I will already be an out-of-touch veteran, whose outlook they’ll dismiss as outdated, or at the least, not so fresh. And they will, I hope, appreciate me. But they can’t appreciate the person they don’t remember existed. They won’t appreciate me as I am today, with them, right now.
I thought, and turned around, and walked out of the library. Maybe, Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be about flowers and cards and prescribed token of appreciation, I thought. Maybe I’ll call my mother instead, and ask her, an adult to adult, what my early years were like for her. What were her dreams back then? What did she struggle with?
What was pleasant? What was hard?
I took out my phone and dialed.
This year, I told myself as I waited for my call to go through, I won’t simply acknowledge my mother. I won’t simply say the words “thanks” and “I love you.”
I will go on a date with the woman she was when she raised me. And I’ll expand my knowledge of her, and my my appreciation of her, as she deserves.