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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is upon us once again.

It's a bittersweet day for me, as my mother died at the age of 80 4-1/2 years ago. So I won't be making a phone call or sending her a card this year. What I really wish I could do is send her a box of See's chocolates. She said they were the best chocolates she had ever eaten. I took her a box of See's for her birthday, just a month before she got sick. I'm glad she got to enjoy her favorite candy toward the end of her life, although none of us realized it at the time.

My mother grew up in a hard-working, traditional family. She was a stay-at-home mom until my younger sister was well into school. Then she worked as a medical transcriptionist in a radiologist's office. Like her mother, she was a great cook. Her fried chicken was beyond compare. I loved her pot roast and mashed potatoes, too. The only thing I remember her having trouble with was pie crusts. She always said that her pie crusts just weren't good, but I never had any complaints about them.

My mother not only was a good cook, but she also canned fruits and vegetables, something I never learned to do (or had an interest in). One thing she canned that I hated (and still do) was stewed tomatoes. I don't like tomatoes anyway, and the stewed ones were just awful. I guess they were good if you like stewed tomatoes, but I couldn't stand them. She also made bread-and-butter and dill pickles.

I have been a mother for all of 6 years, ever since I adopted an 11-year-old orphan from Russia. Our Mother's Day traditions have been unusual, to say the least. Julia usually makes a card for me. One year she took me to brunch at Sweet Tomatoes after saving money from her allowance and lunch funds. One year she did absolutely nothing. She was going through a really rough time (as was I as a result) and acting out a lot. She had said she was going to cook dinner for me, but when it was time for dinner, she was "too tired" to cook. Last year she gave me a couple of paintings she did in art class.

I have no idea what, if anything, she has planned for this year. She is aware that this Sunday is Mother's Day, but she hasn't mentioned any plans, and I'm not asking. This year, her high school prom is the Saturday night before Mother's Day (I wonder who planned that?), with the dance ending at midnight. So who knows what we will do this year. In any event, Mother's Day observances need to come from the heart, not from a sense of obligation.

Some women are natural mothers; they're just really good at being mothers. I never felt that I am one of those women. I came to motherhood later in life, and I have had to face many problems common to adopted children: attachment issues, trust issues, self-esteem issues. I am reassured, however, that a couple of therapists, including one who specializes in attachment issues, have told me that I am doing a good job raising Julia. They're the experts, so I trust that I really am a good mother, although sometimes I wonder.

Personally, I think the special days for mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc., are too phony. Did you ever notice that the ads for Mother's and Father's day always show attractive young parents with little kids? What about older parents with teens or adult kids? I guess they aren't important to the advertisers and merchants.

Kids should let their parents know every day that they are special and loved, just as parents should let their kids know they are loved, too. Setting aside a special day, spending tons of money on cards, flowers and chocolates, seems forced somehow. I would much rather spend the day with my daughter, taking pictures, visiting the zoo or going hiking, or being surprised with the gift of a candy bar or an invitation to dinner 'just because.'

Although my mother is no longer physically present, I always wish her a happy Mother's Day in heaven. I hope she knows how much her family misses her.