Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day

         I’d like to thank the Davis County Public School system for a wonderful Mother’s Day.  For providing 3 out of 4 of my children with handcrafted, thoughtful gifts that will be cherished for years to come--if I remember to store them away in a safe place.  I will admit that Mother’s Day for me has been an interesting, supposed Me centered, holiday seemingly contrived by the greeting card, flower, and chocolate industries to guilt men and children into spending money on the mothers in their lives.  The practical part of me resents this holiday the way I resent most holidays for the overtly materialistic, obligatory and detached way we as Americans enter into holidays in general.  I’m not a big fan of guilt being the driving force for attention or gifts.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love to see fresh cut flowers provided for me and packages wrapped up in a beautiful and creative way just for me, it’s just hard for me to get super excited about something that seems obligatory.
Most years as Mother’s Day approaches I have been filled with thoughts like ‘it’s not a big deal’ and ‘it’s just another day’ truly, but as the day arrives and it is actually treated more or less like an ordinary day a little bit of sadness enters my heart and feelings overflow of wanting to be celebrated for this damn hard job that I have been dedicated to for 12 years now.  I want my morning to begin with a chorus of adorably dressed male-folk surrounding my bed with delicious coffee and breakfast that took way too much time and effort to make.  I want, at every turn, these same males praising my every move highlighting--just for a day--how their lives would not be the amazing lives that they are without me.  I want no arguing, complaining or strife on any level and I want gifts--books, drawing pads, jewelry and expensive clothing.  You see as much as I resent Mother’s Day, I really do want the commercialized and contrived holiday images I see on T.V. for the weeks leading up to that day.  But the reality is that will never happen, for a variety of reasons most of which surround finances and the fact that our lives (Joe’s and mine) are filled up with the day to day--feeding, clothing and nurturing to the best of our ability these boys that have made us parents.  I’m sure I could put it all on Joe to make the day fabulous, however that would mean that on Father’s Day I would have to do the same thing for him and I won’t for the exact reasons he doesn’t--we’re just too busy living life.
So through the years I have come to accept that the public educational system my children are blessed to have access to, will be the one’s supplying my gifts on Mother’s Day.  I have received very cute, tear jerking poems, fake plants, real plants that end up dying within a week and wooden jewelry with gaudy plastic jewels glued on them--along with a variety of other gifts.  The thing that I love about these gifts mostly is the insight they give me on what my children’s perspective is on me.  They usually all make some sort of statement about where we are in life and who I am in my kid’s lives.  Typically it is I who has to read between the lines and ask questions about the creative process, etc.  But this year was a little different because the 5th grade project that my oldest was required to complete was pretty big.  It demanded dedication, time and effort in a creative way that, in the end, would have, could have spoke to his entire year being a Fifth Grader.  A culmination of sorts, comb bound and containing 23 individual works of art, that would reflect the art education he is receiving.
The basic idea of the project is that the cover and every other page had a beautiful and time consuming string art design that was accompanied by a poem, prompted by the teacher, but an original work by the student.  As I admired the cover containing a beautiful butterfly and then turned to the apple which marked Fall, the pumpkin, you get the idea.  But as I turned over the pumpkin I saw a blank page followed by three more blank pages, and I began to chuckle realizing that the year started off strong and then priorities lapsed.  After the four blank pages there was a clover, followed by a kite, flower and the grand finale--the author page with a circle line design framing Solomon’s picture and the “about the author” section.  We all had a little laugh as Solomon sighed saying, “I’m so glad that is over, now I don’t have to stay in at free-time any more!”  Basically, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, glad that pressure is off!”  Another Mother’s Day passed and it was beautiful having my family around most of the day and being able to share it with my own mom.
However, Monday morning as I flipped through the book a second time I realized that all the blank art pages did have poems attached, which is when I also realized that they were original and written by Solomon.  They started off easy and prompted but then I got to the poem on blank page #3, it was untitled and read:
My mom signed me up for tennis
I really hated it
I didn’t do so well
I went to my first match
I did horrible
We did back hand drills
The match was embarrassing
Thanks mom
Wow! uuhhh.... hum... ok...??
Then I turned to the page containing the clover, it said:
If I had a four leaf clover I’d make a wish for you...
A full tank of gas
Boys that wouldn’t fight
A hot tub
A house that would clean itself
And insurance
That’s how much I love you!
I mean who wouldn’t want a never ending full tank of gas, children that didn’t fight, a hot tub and a house that would clean itself?   That would be great!  But I was taken aback by the mention of insurance, insurance.  That statement highlighted, in an instant, our current state of chaos which is: climbing out of a really tough situation slowly and going without what most people consider basic necessities.  Thanks to public assistance our children are covered, but Joe and I are currently uninsured and have been for over a year.  I guess I could go on about the health care crisis or be angry at corporations (namely the one my husband worked for, that dropped us like flies at our lowest point), or the cost of health care or ObamaCare, but that’s not the point.  My struggle is that this struggle has trickled down into the psyche of my children and in that moment I realized that they feel the struggle and put it into their world, even in their poetry.  
It made me a little sad that Solomon wishes he could provide insurance for our family and that he realizes the importance of it and the sacrifice we have made.   I wish that the dream of what Mother’s Day could be or, even the reality of people trying desperately to make it a special day, would erase the real struggle of being a parent.  But it doesn’t.  Being a parent is hard on every level and there are men and women out there every day trying their hardest to make life great for their kids.  Having children means making unselfish decisions and living with the consequences of our humanity--which shows up in poetry on Mother’s Day.  Just being an average, ordinary parent with average, ordinary kids is *bleeping* hard.  Your guilt and regret is real when you realize your shortcomings.  So here is to all of those mom’s and dad’s out there struggling today, thank you on behalf of your children who probably will never fully realize your struggle whatever it is, even if it is only guilt about tennis lessons.