When Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder was asked how she could be both a politician and a mother, she replied, “Because I have a brain and a uterus.” On the second Sunday in May we celebrate Mother’s Day- a day that historically has tended to salute only one of the organs Schroeder mentioned.
Mother’s Day evokes all sorts of emotions in people. Generally, attitudes fall somewhere between the cynical “Bah Mumbug” stance, which holds the position that Mother’s Day is perpetuated by retailers as a way to line their pockets, and the “Apple Pious” belief that motherhood is a sacred calling placing mothers right up there with doctors, popes, honest politicians, and switch-hitters batting over 300.
It is in this abyss between emotions that most of us decide just how to celebrate Mother’s Day. Do we ignore it? Do we give it a passing mention with a token gift? Do we create a spectacle of love worthy of a mini-series starring Melissa Gilbert?
If we decide to give a gift, the process of choosing the gift is not terribly difficult because mothers love anything you give them – even the mother who every year says “Don’t buy me anything; Save your money; I have everything I could ever want.” Flowers and candy are traditional choices, especially for people who need to send their gifts across the country. Clothing, perfume, photographs, dining out, knickknacks, are also common choices. But retailers will try to persuade you that their product is an excellent choice, so you will need to use common sense. Think twice before wrapping up that power drill, gerbil, Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” CD, steam iron or Monistat 7 gift set. And even if you do find choosing a gift to be fairly easy, you will soon discover that choosing a Mother’s Day card is hell.
A visit to local card shops makes a person wonder if it is indeed Mother’s Day or XX-Chromosome Day. As soon as you arrive, not only do you feel pressured to find the card that says just the right thing for your mom, but to buy a card for every female you know. There are cards for Mothers, Stepmothers, New Mothers, Mothers-To-Be, Mothers-in-Law, Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers, Aunts, Great Aunts, Sisters, Sisters-in-Law, Daughters, People Who Are Like Daughters, Godmothers, Goddaughters, Nieces, Cousins, Mothers of Dear Friends, People Who Have Been Like a Mother To Me, and Special Friends. There didn’t seem to be any cards for women who had unprotected sex in the last 30 days, but that’s probably an oversight on the part of the card companies that will be rectified soon. There are “group” cards saying “To Mom From All Of Us” which is the same as saying all your kids are cheap. There are “I Remember” theme cards that recall Mom’s purse, Grandma’s house and wash day. None of them recall the time your mother took out all your baby pictures and showed them to your date. There is a card that says “I Wish I Could Take You To The Bahamas” but not an “I Wish I Could Take You To Des Moines” card. At one store there was even a Mother’s Day card for fathers, thanking the recipient for all of his “fatherly mothering.”
Does that mean while changing your diaper he discussed how the designated hitter rule has ruined baseball or when you hurt yourself he told you the story of General Patton?
And if a Mother’s Day card for fathers wasn’t bad enough, you can send cards from dogs (animals – not unattractive children) or cats. Imagine the joy of receiving a card claiming that no matter how many people I sniff, I could never find a better crotch than yours.
The most complex card (Oedipus complex, that is) is the Mother’s Day card from a husband to his wife. These aren’t cards that say thanks for being such a great mom and putting up with our kids; these are cards right out of cable’s pay-per-view station. They claim “motherhood is sexy,” are written to “my wife, my lover, my friend,” and talk about “our souls coming together” and “feeling your skin whispering to mine – love.” Perhaps the underlying meaning of these cards is “I Remember a Sex Life.”
Of course, no matter how hard card companies try – and they do try hard – there are some categories that fall through the cracks. For instance, there are no cards from nursing babies to moms (“Thanks for the mammaries”) or for a friend’s sister’s mother-in-law’s doctor (“I know you don’t know who the hell I am but because you are a woman I feel obliged to send you a Mother’s Day card”), or for an aunt doing five to ten for armed robbery (“Auntie, Although you are in the big house my love for you knows no bars”). Of course, thanks to create-your-own card machines and software, these gaps can be filled. Whether you’re a compulsive eater (“Mom, you are the cream filling in the Twinkie of life”) or an attorney (“If I had been given the option to choose a maternal parental unit, of all the maternal parental units in the known biosphere, you are heretofore my foremost choice”) or the fitness fanatic (“When it comes to moms, you are the maximum working heart rate in the workout of life”), there is the potential for just the right card.
Finally, no matter if you do or don’t choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, there’s one thing you should remember: God spelled backwards is Dog, but Mom spelled backwards is still Mom. Think about it.