Watching “Mommy Dearest” wasn’t my idea, but when my daughter suggested it I thought “this could be great.” Truthfully, I had never seen the movie. And apparently my nine year old knew more about it then I did (what do they do in school these days?) The metal hanger scene in my teenage understanding stood as a warning or at least had some kind of link to Roe vs Wade. The real scene followed by plumes of cleaning powder saturating Faye Dunaway somehow seemed equally terrifying. Maybe it was the overacting of the entire film, but I found myself turning away more often then during “World War Z”. Next I think we will show the kids the “Great Santini” not because my brother is convinced it is about my father, but just for gender equality.
When asked “what would you like for Mother’s Day?’ (most likely on the Saturday evening when all the stores were closed pre-internet) my Mom routinely responded “Oh, every day is Mother’s Day.” And it wasn’t because she was against the whole commercialization of Mother’s Day or trying to make some political statement. I think what she meant was it was just like every other day. The suggestion “hey let’s take Mom to brunch!” was really more about us and less about her. And in reality it was pretty much the only thing you can do without planning, unless you sneak out to 7-11 and buy flowers after church. Can’t imagine Father’s Day was something my Dad marked on his calendar, but my Mom did. And she planned and ensured that he received something from each oh the kids, Grandpa too. Dad was not to be disturbed for any reason on that day. Even the dog seemed to recognize this and he resisted his urge to bolt out the door per his Sunday solo jaunt around the neighborhood. Of course that could have had more to do with my brother not deliberately leaving the door open so the dog would run and we would miss church.
As I grew older I realized how obviously little effort we put into not so much celebrating Mother’s Day but acknowledging it. Or really Mom. Other holidays found Mom staying up late, or waking up early which she loathed, preparing to make sure we had a great whatever holiday it happened to be. And by great I truly mean exceptional. Maybe it was because she was a teacher so she was used to decorating seasonally but she really went all out. And the planning often started months in advance. Definitely that was the case for Christmas- for which she requested wish lists in August. Sometimes I think it might have been a distraction for her, especially when things were more challenging than not, to focus on an upcoming holiday or birthday. Not trying say that putting candy in a bowl and changing color themes makes a great Mom. The intention though, of trying to find a reason to celebrate or make that celebration big, was a goal for her. Because she really wanted everyone, all of us, to be happy. I think when she said “every day is Mother’s Day” she meant it. Because good or bad everyday she was a Mom.