Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just Another Day

Today is Mother's Day. It isn't a day that I typically make a big deal about. After all, it is largely just a marketing holiday. As I've already mentioned I am not close to my own biological mother, my grandmother having long ago taken over the responsibility of caring for me. And seeing as I do not currently own, nor have ready access to, ovaries of my own, Mother's Day seems especially superfluous.

That's not to say that I don't have any positive memories of my mother, but all of them are more focused on me and the part of my mother could have just as easily been replaced by my grandmother, my aunt, Gertrude Stein, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, actor LeVar Burton, or a Krispy Kreme doughnut!
In fact, one of my fondest memories, which doesn't even involve my mother at all, is of me walking around a mall carrying a cheap stuffed dog with a fireman's uniform and helmet which I had named Sgt. Pepper after The Beatles album. I was four.

Where others have fond memories of lessons passed down by loving moms, my life lessons came from my grandmother, teachers, or the confluence of hours spent in front of a TV while babysitting myself. I learned about life not so much because I was taught but because I was naturally curious and asked lots of questions and looked for lots of answers.

Most of my memories which are unique to my mother involve me being smarter than her. One time she got a wooden cuckoo clock as a gift, but was horribly distressed to find that the clock had to be assembled from a kit in a box. Well, since there were instructions, I took it upon myself to build the damn thing because I felt sorry for my mother's laziness. I was eight.

And while working for AT&T my mother earned company stock each year in the form of actual paper certificates (yeah, they actually used to transfer shares of stock that way before the Internet). One day she needed money for debts and sold her stock. I had to inform her that she should have gotten a loan using the paper stock as collateral so she could have kept the stock which would have been more valuable later in life. She explained that she had asked a stock broker about "stock options" and he didn't mention the possibility of a loan. Of course not, I told her, a loan is a loan, it isn't a "stock option". I was ten.

Please don't mistake me. I don't say these things to elicit sympathy. Instead, with the exception of feeding me and keeping me from living beneath a bridge, I'm trying to explain that my mother's contribution to my life was hardly worthy of celebration. I do sometimes envy those who had close, supportive relationships with their mothers. It's hard not to want to find a woman who can counteract the negative impression of women programmed into me by having to live with my mother. It takes effort to learn how to effectively let go of the years of disappointment and just enjoy someone for who they are. But, still I try.

So, for all of you, I hope you enjoy your Mother's Day with fond admiration. For me, though, it's just another day.

Have fun and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.

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