Happy Mother's Day!
Hominy & Hash: MOTHER
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Mother is one word that translates into e= very language, including gutter language. And, whether it precedes an epit= het or follows a prayer, the word carries dignity and reverence.
This is not to say every woman giving birth is dignified and to be rev= ered. Hardly. It's the word that says it all, and the wonderment of givin= g birth. If you've done it, you know. If you haven't done it, you marvel.
Mommy-bashing seems to be going out of fashion, having reached its = heyday in 1978 with Christina Crawford's blockbuster best-seller revealing = abuse at the hands of her mother, actress Joan Crawford. "Mommy Dearest" c= ame out with a 20th anniversary edition as it continues shining light behin= d closed doors.
So, is it over? Can I come out now? I believe I've escaped but it= 's with a shaky confidence that I hold that belief. There have been a few = brushes revealing how "uncaring" I was.
"Mom," she says angrily, "look at this picture. What were you think= ing? How could you dress us in ... ugh ... polyester?"
"That's why we have dry skin," her sister pipes in.
"The devil made me do it," I answer drolly.
I indulge in a flashback to the day Sears offered play sets in brig= htly striped shirts and solid color shorts. Mix and Match. Quick dry. I = praised God and tossed out the iron. By the time 100% cotton came into fas= hion they were old enough to iron their own or wear the wrinkled look. = My sigh is interrupted with further angry words, "Look at us out there i= n the bright sun without hats on. That's why I have freckles, Mom," she wh= ines and says again, "what were you thinking?"
I don't know what I was thinking then, but I know right now I'm thi= nking of the seven words universally spoken by mothers. The first three ar= e "I love you," and the last four are "Go out and play."
"Sunscreen?" Well, they had names like Hawaiian Sun or Tropical Tan. N= ot exactly what they have on shelves today and I don't want any flack over = that!
Our household of seven children was a lot like Jean Kerr's, who, in= writing "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," tells her children they don't need= to see a psychiatrist to find out what went wrong. She tells them what we= nt wrong.
"You were impossible," she emphasizes -- and the title of the book giv= es us a glimpse behind her closed doors. They say, a Freudian slip is whe= n you say one thing but mean your mother.
Author/Columnist Anna Quindlen, whether thinking of herself as a fr= iend or a parent, has one simple formula: "I show up, I listen, I try to la= ugh."
If I had any formula at all it was constantly telling myself the ch= ildren did not come to me but through me. All I had to do was wipe their n= oses and put in time. And, now, having come out on the other side of the t= ime tunnel, I wait until they all have children of their own, see themselve= s as they must have been, and let perspective put their childhood in sharpe= r focus.
It's Mother's Day again. Look around. You'll see how far the day = has come. It began humbly in England where poor girls lived in as servants= in the homes of the wealthy. Somehow, it was decided, that one Sunday in = May would be a day off for them and called "Mothering Day," encouraging the= girls to visit their mothers. They usually baked a mothering cake to take= along and add to the festivities.
And today? Well, one thing hasn't changed. It's still on a Sunday= in May. However, instead of a mothering cake, expectant mothers, mothers,= grandmothers and great-grandmothers will swell the tables at restaurants f= or the busiest day of the year. The flower, card and candy industries are = prepared and jewelry and lingerie counters are three-deep with shoppers. W= e can't escape it; we all have mothers.
Mother love, a force giving a woman strength enough to lift a car f= rom her trapped child, is more a phenomenon than an emotion. I find this f= orce running in both directions: my love for my child and my love for my m= other. Thirty or more years after her death, I continue to draw strength f= rom her life.
Every sense of right and wrong, I learned from her; all the knowledge = I've passed along, I learned from her, and, I'm not sure this should necess= arily follow, but the hands at the ends of my arms are hers. There are very= few things we can be certain of, but this I know: My mother loved me, and= that's for sure.
James Joyce is even more emphatic: "Whatever else is unsure in thi= s stinking dunghill of a world, a mother's love is not.