Monday, May 10, 2010

Mom's the Word

For a couple of years now I've found it difficult to pick out a Mother's Day card. It's not that I disagree with the sentiments; I nod along as I read them in the store. But they just don't get the whole story.

For example, I recently realized that I was eating the heels. No, I don't mean Jimmy Choos, I'm talking about those slices of bread at each end of the loaf. Most people skip right by those pieces to get to the choicer slices; growing up, it seemed like my mom was the one who ate them. I had a sense of satisfaction a few weeks ago when I realized that I was choosing those slices, myself. It made me feel like maybe I picked up on some of her selflessness after all; somehow I learned to save the choicest pieces for other people. There's no Mother's Day card that talks about eating the heels.

There's also no Mother's Day card that talks about being tough. When my parents were in a car accident in 1998, my mom suffered a broken neck and was in a halo for a month. Through her time in intensive care, multiple surgeries, and weeks of physical therapy, I found myself encouraging her with familiar words: "It's a good thing you're tough." I can't count the number of times she handled my skinned knees or hurt feelings with those words. I didn't always feel tough, but she said it because she knew I could be, that someday I'd need to be. Sometimes when we feel weak, we need someone to believe that we're strong so we can believe it, too. My mom always did that for me.

What moms believe--and what they say--can be so powerful! I was a fearful kid who grew up to be an anxious adult. It's just how I'm wired; I worry about the littlest things, and it's made me more hesitant to try new things. My accomplishments were made possible by my mom's words. If your mother tells you that you can do anything, you eventually start to believe it. It's something I try to do with my own kids now, to see their potential (even if they don't) and remind them of their possibilities.

I couldn't find a card that said thank you for being so tough, selfless, and encouraging--and for helping me to be that kind of parent and person, too. That's the kind of card I needed for the kind of mom I have. Maybe I'll have better luck next year?


  1. What a wonderful post. You know, you're right. My mom is a tough cookie too, but there are no Tough Cookie Mother's Day cards, at least not that I've seen. Have we just stumbled on a new business idea. (Someone, please stop us!!) Thank you for sharing this insight. I will call my mom today and thank her not only for being sweet and wonderful, but also for being tough. For fighting battles for me that I will never even know about.

  2. My mother was tough alright but I have the opposite problem. I dread buying mother's day cards because I don't remember my mother as sweet and wonderful. Those cards that say how she "was always there for me" or "put me first" leave me cold. What do you do then? I love my mother and want to honor the day for her but I think Hallmark needs to put a few cards out there that aren't so over the edge "warm and fuzzy."

  3. It's interesting, isn't it, how different moms are? I think that's what makes it so hard to pick out a card--millions of moms, each unique, and maybe a couple dozen card choices, at most. Fit that square peg into the round hole!

    dM, I think it could be a great business idea: The non-traditional Mother's Day card! (As if we need another business...)

    Lisa, I know what you mean about over the edge. I notice this a lot when people pass away, too...suddenly that person who annoyed you and you grumbled about becomes a saint. I guess it's good if you can only remember the positive things about someone. And the card companies certainly want all of us to see our moms the same way, or acknowledge them the same way. Or they think that we already DO think of them the same way. It's interesting to think about. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts!



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