Monday, May 11, 2009

A day for all of us

Working on my computer at Starbucks this week with George panting under the table, I overheard an interesting conversation at the table next to me. The portly man sat alone with his coffee by the entrance, talking on his Bluetooth, looking like he was talking to the air. “Yeah, it took me forever but I finally found a Mother’s Day card,” he said, shifting his flip-flop foot onto the chair next to him. “I mean, how can I find a good card for her when two days after Mother’s Day I’ll be telling her I’m divorcing her?” Interested, I tried not to look like I was listening. He continued complaining, adding that he had finally found a card that said a simple “Happy Mother’s Day,” without any extra sentimentality.

I wondered about this mother who in just three days would find out that her life was changing. I wondered how old their kids are and how this divorce would affect them. I hoped that this Mother’s Day would be extra good for her, so she could have one last good day with her family before her world crumbled.

Mother’s Day has become a day I prefer to ignore. My mom passed away nearly ten years ago, making the day an obvious smack-in-the-face of what I no longer have. And since we don’t have children yet after years of frustration, it’s also a day that emphasizes the fact that I am not a mother. I hate it.

I do, however, have one “child.” George. And there is no doubt that I am his mommy. He follows me everywhere, wants attention, cuddles with me, and sometimes is ornery. He has to be fed, disciplined, educated, and loved. At night he lies against me and lets me pick him up like a baby, limp in my arms while he’s sleeping. My doting on him may be annoying, but I don’t care!

The man next to me outside Starbucks still talked on his phone, but after a while his voice softened and got quieter. “I love you,” he said before he ended his call. Aha, I thought. Now I knew why he was going to leave his wife. So for all I knew, maybe the divorce would be a relief to her, after his lying. Even after he’s gone, she’ll still be the Mother. And that’s going to be more important than “Wife” for her family in the long run, isn’t it?

About five years ago my husband gave me a Mother’s Day gift of a large wooden park bench that I had wanted for our front yard. “But I’m not a mother,” I had told him, confused. “It’s a Future-Mother’s Day gift,” he had replied with a smile. That bench still sits outside our house, waiting.

But on this Mother’s Day I will try not to be sad. It can be a day to celebrate great Mothers we’ve lost; it can be a day for the single mothers who are soon to go it alone; it can be a day for Mothers who wait. What the heck – how about Mother Earth, too. Here’s to all of us.

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