Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mother's Day from Two Perspectives

I did something different this year in preparation for Mother's Day. I asked for something. Specifically, I made a breakfast-menu request. And so, my day started with amazing cornmeal blueberry pancakes. TG (being TG) did more than standard recipe-research due diligence and came up with a very tasty formula.

The best part of Mother's Day is that I get to be a mom to this amazing, intelligent, goofy ten-year-old sidekick. He's the kid who takes a shirt, tie, and jacket to his grandpa's house in the woods so he can dress up for my birthday dinner and Mother's Day breakfast. And he's the kid who surprises me with the facts he has amassed in his curious mind.

He asked whether I knew what Thomas Edison had invented. Thinking the answer was obvious, I went straight to "incandescent lightbulb." True enough, but he was referring to the electric chair. Yeah, I didn't know that. And I gladly admitted it. Edison had more than 1000 patents, why should I expect my kid to pick the most obvious one? (The History Channel strikes again.)

But that's not just the best part of Mother's Day. It's the best part of any day. Being @’s mom is a privilege in more ways than one. It’s not that he’s just a great kid, but that he overcame so many challenges to survive. He's here. I get to celebrate him. In my heart, I have his twin, who will always be a part of me. On certain days, that's a more bittersweet reality than on others.

Mother's Day is complicated. Or it feels complicated to me. Or I make it complicated in my head. But it's not for the reasons surrounding my own motherhood. There are other pieces to it that don't particularly co-exist all that well -- namely the whole "daughterhood" part.

(Sometimes I have to use a keyboard to free words and phrases from roiling in my thoughts, trapped by a certain thread. If I don't, there they stay.)

Thanks to the wonders of consumer advertising, Mother’s Day was everywhere with commands and demands to "remember mom" on this day and shower her with retail goodness and manufactured sentiment. I'm not blind to all that, but I am kinda numb to it. It's not like the 42nd e-mail that hit my inbox with special offers was going to suddenly turn on another of Edison's inventions over my head. Let there be light!

I love my mom. Simple as that. We've gone through periods of estrangement with all the trappings of resentment and such stuff. And we've gone through times where things went far more smoothly. And through personality differences, points of view, priorities, and maybe some other things that start with P, we just don't jive well.

When I was younger, I wanted the "mother-daughter" relationship that it seemed everyone else had -- whether in who I met, what I read, what I saw. The one where she would be my biggest cheerleader and the first person I wanted to talk to when something happened. But we never really had that kind of relationship.

I know she has been the best mother she can be to me. And I've always tried to be a good kid. But I don't know that our definitions of the rules and ideals have ever matched very well. Once upon a time I was envious of my brother's relationship with her. Today, I am grateful they have the strong relationship they do.

My mother sent me a card and flowers for my birthday. Bright, cheery, great flowers. And despite the retail coaching all around me, beyond sending a thank-you e-mail, I fell flat. I'm not good at celebrating birthdays, holidays, and such. Even for myself. My feelings don't change according to dates on calendars. They're forced. (Yes, I know. It's not about me.) Since @ arrived in the world, I've done more -- especially where they involve him. That pancake request was a bigger deal than it seems.

After breakfast, the day returned to normal. I helped my dad with his computer, looked at trees in the woods with @, geared up for my ride home, and enjoyed a few hours of semi-solitude riding my Spyder through the backroads to get home with TG, @, and the dogs following in the truck.

For a few more days, Mother's Day was still everywhere. Happy Facebook postings and Instagram pictures. And I quietly chastised myself for my not doing anything about the day. And kept at it. And today, I realized something. I've let go of measuring my mom against some false standards and by accepting that she does the best she can as my mom. But I haven't done the same of myself. I do the best I can. From the outside, I know there are lots of "should" and "why don't you" thoughts on the subject. But inside, I know. I'm doing the best I can.

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