I’ve never been one for ceremony. I normally eschew holidays such as Mother’s day or Valentine’s day as attempts to sell greeting cards or flowers. But I caught the tail end of Reverend Al Sharpton’s show on MSNBC the other day and he made a point that seems, well, poigniant. And it echoes an axiom to which my mother has always adhered: there are three things certain in life; death, taxes, and the love of one’s mother.
Reverend Sharpton said that we should acknowledge our mothers on this day as having helped us get through life and if our mothers had already passed we should honour them by doing something that would show that their contribution to the planet was worthwhile. In short, we should honour them by being good examples and living a full and purposeful life. I thought that was good advice.
I’ve had a lifelong contentious relationship with my mother. It’s actually all her fault (okay, maybe not all). Ironically, I mean that as a compliment. For years we’ve butted heads on how I should be living and the quality of the decisions I’ve made. We disagree on more things than we agree upon. In the end, she’s still my mom. And the fact that I can disagree with her is a testament to her raising me to think independently.
She pushed all 10 pounds and 8 ounces of me out of her womb and that had to hurt. That’s a big baby. Then she endured a wild child; a creative child. She gave me her Beatles album ‘The Magical Mystery Tour’ which I played endlessly on some plastic orange record player that still had 78 rpm and it was all over. I was a musician, complete with all the bullshit that ensues. I remember the phone call I got when I was actually making a living in the music industry and she said with a degree of incredulity (and with a hint of pride), “Wow, you’re really doing it”.
She did other stuff, too like ensuring family vacations at our favourite island off the coast of Florida. She sent me to sailing school, scuba diving classes, and just generally taught me how to be adventurous. I haven’t stopped doing that since, much to my detriment at times. But what the hell; it’s my time on the planet. I only get so much time to experience everything.
And then there’s the ancillary benefit because Mother’s day works both ways. My daughter has four children and in their eyes, I’m Superman. Forged from steel, invincible. It’s okay, they don’t know about Santa Claus either. Inevitably, they’ll learn one day that I’m susceptible to Kryptonite. I can only hope that I have instilled in their mother the tools to deal with that inevitability.
I’ve experienced a lot of sadness too. Much of it has been painful. Divorce, battles over custody, financial problems, rejection, loss, etc. I won’t go into detail but issues with my own mother fall into this list. I could fault her because I didn’t ask for this life. I just got dumped into it. Just as she got dumped into hers.
And that’s the rub, isn’t it? We all get dumped into this Sartre-ian existence whether we like it or not. But it’s our mothers who prepare us to deal with it. Whether we like it or not they are the ones who write the code, they are the ones who forge the metal, or mettle. they are the ones who teach us the things we need to survive. Maybe they don’t always do the best job but if you’re reading this, you survived. That alone warrants recognition.
Which brings me back to Reverend Al’s point. Why not call your Mama? And if she has passed, why not do something that would make your Mama proud? It’s the least you can do to show that her efforts were not in vain.
I love you, Mom. Your legacy is thriving.
Your son, Granddaughter, her husband, and Grandchildren