A couple of years ago, there was a radio commercial (was there a TV one too?) for Outback Restaurants in celebration of Mother’s Day. The song went something like this,
"Nobody loves you like your mum, chum
With her you’re always number one, chum
Even when she spanks you on the bum —
Nobody ever loves you like your mum."
I like it because it’s straightforward, funny and true (although I’m not exactly condoning corporal punishment here). I find it hard to write about mothers, mothering, mother’s day and all that stuff without getting maudlin, and funny seems to skirt over maudlin well. But Mother’s day isn’t really, well, funny.
I mean… for the main part, who doesn’t love their mother? Even if she annoys the heck out of you and tries to be overly helpful by micro-managing your life and tries to take over even the smallest of details, she is still doing that because she loves you. Or even if she is a hapless pushover who can’t be counted on for strong opinions. Or if she is an uncontrollable gossip. Or if she is irritatingly thrifty to the point of cheapness or even if she is a master guilt tripper.
Because she, more than anyone in the world, she has seen you at your most vulnerable and unpantsed. Not just with a bare bottom, people– she’s most likely seen you with poop all over your butt.
Mothers are not perfect people: they are us. But with the hormones and the whirlwind of responsibility and emotions, there is something that happens to people who started off their lives as little girls with Barbies and uterine ambition: we fell in love with those little people, whether they came out of us or they came along with a divorcé’s package deal, or whether we chose to bring them back from far away.
That vulnerability and that knowledge that you’re responsible for another human being in more ways than just cleaning up crap (but for many primarily because of that) is what stirs up the love and compassion that becomes a mother’s deep heart imprint.
Sometimes, when I’m irritated while doing my "mother thing" I tend to think of Andrea Yates. I’m sure that most people out there have strong views on her family life, her verdict, her post-partum psychosis and her insanity plea– I know I do. If you don’t know who she is, please click on her name: I guarantee that once you read the article, you too will have an opinion. Killing your own children is one of those things where no one can just know about it and just pull a Switzerland and say, "gosh, that’s too bad but I prefer to remain neutral."
But I do think about her.
I don’t have five children, but I have one and he is my daily and exhausting reality. And while I love him more than I ever thought possible there are small flashes of moments where, whatever I thought of Andrea Yates when I first heard of her case, in those dark moments I think something along the lines of, "I understand, Andrea, and I’m only sorry that you couldn’t have your own mom talk you down from that ledge."
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies who read this. I hope that you have a good mother, and a good relationship with your mother, as I am very fortunate to have. But if you don’t, I hope that through your own mothering you can redeem her and yourself.
And gentlemen: hop to it and treat your mommies right. Your turn comes in about a month.