Mother’s Day always stirs up a stew of emotions.
We probably think first of our own mother. If she’s no longer with us, there’s a wave of sadness, a quick rush of memories, mixed with regret for opportunities wasted, for things unsaid or, worse, said.
If she’s living, the first thought might be what to do for her, with her. But sometimes there’s the conflict of do you spend time with your own mother, your spouse’s mother or, for men, your children’s mother?
Mothers-in-law are a touchy issue in some families. When my own turned out to be the kindest, happiest, most loving mother-in-law a young bride could hope for, I thought Mother’s Day was invented for mothers like her.
My mother died in February when I was 12. It was the custom of our church on Mother’s Day to give red roses to those whose mothers were living and white roses for those who were not. I can’t tell you how much I dreaded going to church that day in May.
Many of us had elderly mothers — in my case, a 95-year old stepmother — in nursing homes who didn’t remember us when we went to see them. Should we go anyway? Does it make any difference if we go on Mother’s Day or spend the day with someone else and go next week?
Mothers and sons have special relationships and, from my observation, carry over less resentment than mothers and daughters. My husband fiercely loved his mother, as did his two brothers. I can still hear his doting and tolerant, “Oh, mama!” when she related something he disagreed with. He always insisted he had ESP with his mother, that they knew when each other was going to call or visit or needed to talk. I think they did.
Since I only have sons, that’s the parent-child relationship I know the most about. When my first son was born, I thought it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me — same feeling with sons two and three. I loved being a mother, still do. I never cease to be amazed and delighted at how smart and talented they are and am prepared to give details!
My sons are practically flawless but there was that one Mother’s Day many, many years ago when, by some coincidence, not one of them called or came to see me. Not that I was upset — oh, I did write a little piece about it and publish it in my newspaper. But, as I tell them each year, I’ve forgotten all about it.
Mothers’ Day — sounds simple enough but just the words themselves can be emotional quicksand. It would be easier all around if we just skipped a special day and went along with whoever — probably some advertising copywriter — “Every day is Mother’s Day.”
Unless you’re one of those people who don’t even like your mother. …
Mary McClure lives in Lawton and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.