My husband and I play Scrabble nearly every day, and he beats me an unfair proportion of the time, but on special days he always lets me win, by opening up triple-word-scores and not using them or trading in both blanks, anything to give me a much-needed advantage. On Mother ?s Day he let me win by not challenging my misspelled ten-letter-word animothity, ? strategically played for maximum points. The next day however, he was ahead by nearly 200 points by the fourth round.
Some people believe Mother ?s Day should be celebrated all during the month of May, ? I suggested.
Yeah. They ?re called florists. ?
So you ?ve gotten your carnation or African Violet from church. You are through cleaning up the kitchen from the Mother ?s Day breakfast lovingly prepared for you. The greeting cards and e-cards have all come in. Mother ?s Day is officially over.
Am I the only mother out there suffering Post-Holiday Letdown, back to looking forward to 364 days of being over-worked and under-appreciated? If not, perhaps you will feel better if I tell you about how my budget-minded son has come up with the same gift for me several years in a row. Here ?s how the logic works, as he explained it to me.
Him: What do most mothers do when their kid gets a tattoo? ?
Me: Freak out. ?
Him: And yet what word do lots of guys get tattooed on their arm? ?
Me: Mom? ?
Him: Right. So that is kind of a gift that cancels itself out. She would be touched that it is her name he wants emblazoned on his arm or chest, except for the fact that she doesn ?t want him to get a tattoo. ?
Me: Okay. Your point is? ?
Him: For Mother ?s Day this year I didn ?t get a tattoo that says ?Mom. ? ?
Me: But if you ever did, not that you would, that ?s what it would say, right? ?
Him: Of course. Because Moms don ?t break up with you. ?
Me: I see. So you are giving me the sentiment that my name is what you would tattoo if you could tattoo and a woodchuck could chuck wood. ?
Him: It ?s double the gift. Happy Mother ?s Day! ?
I think this is the third year in a row that my gift is that he hasn ?t gotten the tattoo for Mother ?s Day. I was so touched the first time, he realized he was on to something. He also didn ?t get a tattoo on my last two birthdays and at least one recent Christmas.
This is a child to whom I gave husband lessons. ? Mostly because I was widowed young, I used to take him shopping when a holiday approached. It was either do something for myself, involving my son, or sit around and feel sorry for myself because no one remembered something they shouldn ?t have been expected to remember in the first place.
I started early, even before he was toilet-trained. I remember one shopping expedition in the department store where I held up two dresses in front of the stroller. What color is this one? ?
And what color is this one?
Which one do you think Mommy would look prettiest in? ?
Lellow. Boo. ?
Oh, you think I should get both of them? ?
A few days before my birthday I would take him to the florist. I would explain to the lady that he wanted to send me flowers for my birthday. I would give her our address and an amount he could spend, and then I would let her consult with my little boy while I looked around the shop. After he had made his selection, I took care of the bill and we waited together on my birthday for the flowers to come. This resulted once in a wonderful bouquet of carnation ice cream cones that he was so proud of. I made sure a few friends came by so he could get credit for his thoughtfulness. Another time I got an exotic tropical arrangement with a little stuffed tiger peaking out from between some bird of paradise. The tiger still sits on my shelf as a reminder.
I should not be surprised, then, at the no-tattoo idea, for I must take responsibility for having taught him the art of creative gift giving. The difference is that I bankrolled his purchases back then. He still gives it the creative touch, though, and I trust that someday he will have a wife who will benefit from my teaching efforts when his gift-giving budget has increased. In the meantime, I cherish my Mother ?s Day 2002 beard in a box. ? (I think he looks handsome in a well-trimmed beard, truly. It was the Amish Wino look that I couldn ?t quite get used to.)
Yesterday I talked to a friend of mine who is a bishop. In the course of the conversation we compared our near-empty-nest status. I mentioned that having a 22-year-old returned missionary watching cartoons didn ?t seem that much different from having a four-year-old watching Sesame Street. He reminded me that there was lots worse stuff he could be doing. You don ?t have to look far to find someone with a child or children that makes you glad of your challenges with your own, however difficult they may be. I always try not to say things to minimize whatever someone is dealing with, because he doesn ?t beat you, does he? ? said to a woman whose husband has not held a job for more than ten minutes in twenty-five years does not magically erase the challenge, and in fact, will likely just tick her off.
But if you are an under-appreciated mother suffering from neglect, it doesn ?t hurt to look around and take stock of how much worse it could be and give yourself a little perspective. It may be the only gift you get for a while.