Spring is really as annoying as hell with its tiresome eternal promise of renewal and rebirth and unity and love. It’s too goddamned cheerful. I almost prefer the foot of cold wet isolating snow that hit the foothills of the Rockies in the middle of May. I’m not quite ready to face the wakening world after my cold and cloistered winter hibernation.
For one thing, all my summer clothes shrank in the cold cloisters of the winter closet. Nothing fits. Hibernation, when managed properly, involves the consumption of lots of fats and carbohydrates and alcohol. Hibernation also involves layers of thick fuzzy clothing to cover thickening fuzzy bodies (scrupulous leg-shaving tapers off after the holidays; that is why they make black tights). Most creatures emerge from hibernation thinner. Spoiled middle-aged middle-class middle-American women don’t seem to.
Spring with its burgeoning life and optimism and hope insists that we start over and be our Best Selves. It asks that we diet and exercise. It demands that we open our hearts and forgive the rude drivers and the weird friends and the whacked relatives and the impossible co-workers and the irritating other people that fill and frustrate our lives. Spring expects the very best of us – as do our mothers.
Spring brings Mother’s Day, vying with Valentine’s Day for Best Fake Commercial Holiday Foisted Upon Guilt-Ridden Consumers to Boost Sales of Flowers and Chocolates and $6.99 Greeting Cards (if you want a card with sequins and feathers and sound, which all mothers certainly deserve and have come to expect).
In truth, every day is Mother’s Day. I was thinking that just yesterday, on my hands and knees in the bathroom scrubbing my sons’ dried stinking pee off the floor. And the wall. And the shower curtain. Little moments like those are what motherhood is all about – it’s not all over-priced shrink-wrapped wilting roses. The unexpected hugs, the sullen looks, the occasional honest smiles, the dirty socks, the sudden flashes of wit and thoughtfulness, the moldy dishes under the couch, the hints of possible maturity, the empty milk cartons put back in the refrigerator, the eyes rolled at you, the turn of the head in which you see your own parents, and yes, even the pee, all add up to something worthwhile.
I hope it’s felt worthwhile to my own mother. On Mother’s Day, I always want to apologize to her. Not for the standard sins of neglecting her or taking her for granted, mind you (six Hail Marys and six Our Fathers). I want to apologize for my very existence, or at least for arriving when I did (there aren’t enough rosaries).
She was saddled with me at age 22, stuck in a strange city in a strange state, surrounded by a sea of cloth diapers to wash and glass bottles to sterilize and heavy cotton baby clothes to iron. She was a kid herself, and there I was, dependent and needy and peeing (you see, there’s a theme, here). She and my dad had been married a year – they barely knew themselves or each other, and suddenly had sole charge of a strange helpless crying creature whose wants were unceasing. God bless them.
Does God bless all mothers? If he did, wouldn’t he spare them menopause? Menopause is why I’m certain that any God out there is male. We women labor for the survival of the species, we bear children and lose waistlines and bladder control (my peeing theme continues), we sacrifice our youth to their youth, and we’re ultimately rewarded with years of hot flashes and irrationality and sleepless nights and raging moods of despair and fury (this rewards our husbands, too). Mother’s Day, even given $6.99 cards with sequins and feathers and sound, does not compensate us adequately for this. But at least the holiday makes a token effort. God just shrugs and watches us lose our looks and our sanity.
Yesterday, an otherwise sane reporter for The Denver Post began a serious news article with, “Prince Harry, a bachelor whose good looks cause women to swoon.” His mother would not care for this shallow fixation on looks. I actually looked to see if the Post was running a pre-fab AP article or if I’d picked up the The National Inquirer by mistake. But this was an honest-to-god journalist, following the Prince on his diplomatic Colorado tour.
Now, we cast Mother England aside over 200 years ago. Should her son Harry really excite so much stateside swooning? It’s not like he’s a reality TV star or a movie actor or a pop singer or a celebrity chef, after all. He’ll never do for us. Harry’s just the product of a noble bloodline reaching back through the annals of Western history.
We Americans like our kingly class crass and commercial. It’s how we like our Mother’s Days, too. Me? I’ll grant Harry the nobility of his birth, but I admire my mother’s nobility after my birth a whole lot more.
And she’s much better looking than he is. Only Harry’s mother could find him handsome enough to swoon over.