May 8, Mother’s Day: Last weekend, we had snow. A heavy wet one to every rancher’s delight. The inside of our house smells of compost, wet dirt and vegetation – all those cuttings and nursery plants that I dare not set out. The dandelions brave the cold, but they are hearty perennials and big as dinner plates.
Saturday, my husband lingered in our local grocery looking at the cut flowers. He is, of course, supposed to recognize me on Mother’s Day. He wondered which bunch of the flowers I liked best. None of them appealed to me.
How about a new aspen tree to replace the tree that didn’t make it through the winter? Yes, I could have a new tree. He would buy one on Monday. I added that if he were to buy me flowers, I would rather receive surprise flowers on an ordinary day than flowers on a designated day.
In truth, the more I think about it, I think that Mother’s Day is a two-way street. We should honor our birth mother (adoptive mother, foster mother, grandmother or any woman who has mentored us like a mom) but if we are mothers ourselves, we should thank our children for making us more than we thought we could be. My three daughters have given me a lifetime of memories.
If I were to think of myself as malleable clay wobbling on the potter’s wheel, I would acknowledge that their fingers have shaped me. Not that I’m complete and ready for firing in the kiln, but I’m closer with every passing year.
Yes, they should thank me, not because I’ve been perfect (I’ve made too many mistakes to count), but I have tried my best, and I think that they forgive me. Likewise, I should thank them. Our relationship has been full of give-and-take. Not to get all maudlin on my readers, I’ll just insert two poems – both of which I wrote some years ago.
“HOME ALONE” was written when the last of the daughters left for college. It was my first day home alone, and the poem tells how I sat in front of the TV.
The eldest is gone /making a life /with the man she loves. The fledglings are going / stretching their wings and / looking at the world / up over the nest. But I’m not lonely. The television is on / and Mister Rogers / takes me back / to the age of innocent /sweet and sour bodies / sticky with honey and /coated with crumbs. Fred Rogers is my neighbor / and in his presence /I recall the past / and take pleasure / in simple gifts.
A second poem, “BLOOD BOND: A NOTE TO MY ADULT DAUGHTERS,” is also older – I may have written it ten years ago or so, but with every passing year, the poem resonates more.
As I watched you run / out of the house / through the alfalfa / past the horses / under the pinon pine / my heart strings stretched / like the sinews / of a sun dancing Sioux. Playing out / then holding fast / to the stretching strings / I tried to reel you in / but a child no more / you hit your stride. Flushed with freedom / you headed west / over the Rockies / across the Painted Desert / into the Imperial Valley / where you paused for breath / beneath a lemon tree. The family ties / first a bungee cord / then a thread / and then a spider web / stretched thin and thinner. / Just a wisp, a wish / a blood bond / tugged at me. And like a small child / flying to her mother / I ran after you.
Happy Mother’s Day to my daughters Dana, Laura, and Sarah