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I love you, Mom (most of the time) (05/08/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

Ah yes, Mother’s Day is here again. We are all going to be thinking fondly of our mothers, sending them cards and flowers, going to dinner or brunch, serving breakfast in bed. We’ll be really, really nice to our mothers — for a day.

Being a mother myself, I think I speak with some authority when I say that one day is not nearly enough to recognize what mothers contribute to this world — people, for one thing. Come on, there are actually groups that are honored for entire weeks, months even! And we get only a day? Heck, did you know this is the Year of the Solar System. A whole YEAR for something that just IS, through no effort of its own.

But I think I know why we mothers get only one day of being honored. Humans have a love-hate relationship with mothers. How do I know this? Well, one of my guilty pleasures is reading advice columns. It actually makes me feel better. You know, your mother can (or could) annoy the heck out of you, but all in all, you love her. Well, if you read advice columns, you find out that some people’s mothers (and mothers-in-law) are not especially lovable, and some are downright despicable.

Take this from Dear Prudence. A woman writes that her mother says things to her grandchildren such as “I’m gonna kill you!” and has loud racist arguments with her. Yikes! Another woman writes that she made a children’s book for her adult daughter illustrated with pictures of her pets, but the daughter said she’d been too busy to open it. Brother, mother, get a new hobby! A new mom writes that her own mother has barely seen her new baby and she feels closer to her stepmother.

Dear Abby entertains a letter from a woman who doesn’t want children because her own mother “was a bitter, unforgiving, jealous woman.” Did having a daughter do that to her? Another letter writer says, “My mother has a long history of lying in what appears to be her attempt to manipulate others.”

In fact, most letters are complaints about mothers and mothers-in-law, followed by letters about brides and husbands who don’t measure up to expectations. So I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Year of the Mother any time soon, just like we won’t be seeing the Year of the Bridezilla or the Year of the Snoring Husband.

Mother’s Day is the second-best day of the year for flower sales, right after Valentine’s Day (is there a connection?). So horrible mothers must be in the minority. It could be, too, that the things that drive you crazy about your mother turn out to be the things that you are most grateful for. So she wouldn’t let you hang around with the bad kids, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Now that you’re a doctor or a police officer, you can appreciate her for it. She wouldn’t let you wear a see-through blouse so you didn’t get to marry Prince William — Kate did after she wore the see-through blouse. You don’t want to live in London and have the Queen for a mother-in-law, so you are grateful to your mother for saving you from that fate. She made you get a haircut and wouldn’t let you wear your ball cap backwards in her presence. Now you realize how much better you look in your senate seat campaign pictures because of your mother.

So you put up with a little meddling, you let her feed your kids candy, you’re nice to her friends because you know they know everything about you. You even pretend you don’t care when she wonders aloud if your husband works hard enough or if your bathrooms are clean enough.

After all, she’s your mother. If it weren’t for her…

Happy Mother’s Day!

Book Club news

My sister Susan suggests The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen. It’s gotten mixed reviews, but she says it’s a great read.



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