roses are red, violets are blue…
Mother’s Day has me tongue-tied
…and how about you?

i have been struggling to write some kind of Mother’s Day post for three days now, but you all keep beating me to it. and not by blowing posies and sunbeams at my posterior, bless you for your dignity and refusal to pander to what ends up being, unavoidably, a Hallmark-y kind of holiday. there are words going around out there that rise well above the packaged sentiments – and the genuine but single-layered sticky-sweetness – of the Mother’s Day cards i remember being vaguely repulsed by even in childhood.

to my dearest wife, for being so selfless and hysterical emotional

to Mother, a gentle gift from God…

to Mommy, because now that i got you this card i can be a nasty little hellion for the rest of the day…(or the new tween version, call me anytime Mom, just as long as you pay my cell phone bill)

ack. thpppht. i has a hairball.

perhaps Hallmark needs some mommy bloggers working for them, rather than the Neanderthals of gender performance they’ve apparently hired. ’cause they ain’t doing this holiday justice. but you are.

Mother’s Day can be a bit like an iceberg in the calendar, all shiny, just waiting to sink those without mothers, those without children, those for whom the words on cards ring hollow, for whom some mother-child relationship in their catalogue is strained, disappointing, painful, or just impossible to sum up in the discourse of pleasantries circumscribed by Hallmark. if i ever have a worse Mother’s Day than the rainy one two years ago, spent planting trees in the backyard in memory of our dead newborn son, you can – please – just shoot me. there isn’t a card in the world for those kinda days, that kind of naked despair, that ache. and i cannot write one. i’ve been trying…but the words make me turn away, look away, clam up.

not you guys. between Bad‘s brave, exposed tribute to her mother’s fierce love, Julia‘s grace in straddling the inbetween of mothering the living and the dead, Kate‘s unfolding saga of two little boys born too early last week in the very same hospital where i delivered Finn and her fear and ambivalence and love and hope, all of which make my breath catch in my throat, and Jen bearing witness to the mothers and the moments that seldom get much press, there’s a thread of complexity and shadow in the Mother’s Day chorus that you’ve offered up…there is a stretch-marked, tear-stained, real love kinda chorus out there. and i am moved by it, caught up in it in a way i never expected to be by Mother’s Day. and grateful, to all of you, for finding the kind of words i wanted to but couldn’t.

it’s not that i categorically dislike Mother’s Day. i like mothers. i like my own mother, which is a gift i am more and more grateful for all the time …even if it creeps me out how she can occasionally up and walk right out of my mouth, like some uninvited ventriloquist genie. i am lucky to have a mother, at this place in my life. i am lucky to be a mother, and i find much in motherhood to celebrate.

but i’m not good at Mother’s Day. never was. when i was seven or eight, i resolved to make my mom a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed…i got up early that morn, intent and excited, and – despite a very passing acquaintance with the finer points of anything fancier than toast – made eggs and bacon and Kool-Aid and carried them into my mom’s bedroom on a cookie sheet. i was quite proud. of course, the Kool-Aid had no sugar, the eggs – which i thought were poached, except i hadn’t exactly added any water to the pan – were a burnt, stuck, half-raw delight, and the bacon had been hiding in the back of the fridge since Christmas. my mom was very gracious…just, oddly, not very hungry that morning.

i thought i’d be calling on a little of the same gracious reserve this morning, since things were not shaping up to be overly celebratory chez crib for Mother’s Day. Dave had to leave for a business trip at ten am this morning, and as of yesterday afternoon, when i asked – playfully, but with some vestiges of romantic entitlement – how exactly he was planning to pamper me before his Mother’s Day abandonment, he responded with “well, we have some Pampers somewhere in the baby’s room…”

har har, funny little man. i know where you sleep.

but i underestimated this partner i’ve chosen. Dave went to unusual lengths to get me a decent Mother’s Day card this year. it was waiting for me, with dark chocolate and coffee, when i came downstairs this morning.

it has a rather stuffy, formal etching on the front of some stereotypical hallowed hall of learning, and it says, floridly;

For the College Graduate…after which he scrawled, in his own personal chickenscratch, who has become a mother.

it’s a graduation card, acclaiming success. it’s the kind i would have laughed and felt silly about back when i actually graduated in exactly the same way i feel silly about Mother’s Day cards now. but as a Mother’s Day card, saying “hey, i know you’re a smart woman who changes diapers all day, and i know we’ve had a lot of sorrow on the road to get here and it’s bittersweet sometimes and and there’s anger and disconnect and fear and it’s not always intellectually fascinating but i know you believe it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do and i just want to tell you that you’re really, actually doing a good job, that you’re a good mom to this little soul who seems to have come to stay with us and to the memory of the other one that follows us around and has in part made us who we are, that you’ve genuinely succeeded in a way that our culture doesn’t actually offer cards for…and i thank you, for both our boys and for being my friend” – as that, it was just about perfect.

plus, he didn’t even eat any of my chocolate before he left.

i am blessed.

and i hope that you all feel some level of that real kind of blessing, no matter how ill-at-ease or thrilled you may be with the pomp and circumstance of an arbitrary holiday. happy Mother’s Day, blogosphere.  you out there have made my experience of motherhood richer, and better, and less lonely.

Oscar and i – and probably Dave, who notices things – thank you.