Seems this week that every blog post and every shopping site is calling out their picks for Mother’s Day – 5 gifts, 5 brunch spots, 5 things to do to celebrate Mom. Not to be a Bummer Mommy, but do we really want another meal or a fuzzy bathrobe because someone in the family did a speed-shop at the local mall for something to hand over with a Hallmark card?
Not a chance. What I want is much more difficult to get:
I want a Perfect Moment.
Certain moments of family life are so Good that I have found myself speechless. Blissful, fleeting glimpses of harmony with the three people I love most in which everything is all right with the Universe. When the kids were little, Mother’s Day provided a few such moments, with the kids behaving just like the Hallmark card dictated, bringing me breakfast in bed. You know, the rubbery eggs and weak coffee which was gleefully placed upon my lap by my daughter, and then catapulted into the air when my boy leapt from floor to bed with a joyful “Good morning, Mommy!”
Perfect moments don’t happen when the calendar says they should. Life with kids is so frenetic and (frankly) exhausting, that the real trick is to recognize these gifts when they happen. Don’t grab a camera — in fact, recording the moment would signal it’s end. I have dozens of them etched in my mind, as does every parent, though they’ll sound merely mundane to anyone else: we’re swimming in the pool when white butterflies flutter overhead and we look up to watch together. The whole family is out to dinner together, laughing uncontrollably at something utterly benign. We’re packed in the car on the way to a weekend at Mammoth, everyone snuggled into their own corner doing their thing, quietly coexisting.
It’s that that special cocoon of family that no one else can quite understand. I remember it from my own childhood, multiple layers of memories bonding me to my sisters and to my parents.
It’s just us, being Us.
On Saturday night I go to LAX to pick up my daughter after her freshman year — it’s definitely been an adjustment to just be Us with one away at college. Watching the passengers come off the plane and stride towards their waiting families and bags, and searching for her face in the crowd feels like it might turn out to be my perfect moment.
Happy Mother’s Day to each of you.
PS: Here is one Mother’s Day post I can get behind: Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation’s 5 Ways to Make a Difference This Mother’s Day, supporting women in developing nations. In researching this post, I came across another very interesting campaign, spearheaded by Christy Turlington Burns. The Every Mother Counts campaign asks mothers to ‘disappear’ on Mother’s Day, refusing to talk to anyone or accept any gifts, in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of women who die in childhood every year. I’m down with the no gifts business, but the no speaking is pretty intense. (Parents of little kids, don’t try this at home!). Though I might have had a squeamish initial reaction, the idea of demanding that people around you imagine life without their mother in sympathy with those less fortunate is pretty darn powerful.