Monday, June 1, 2009

Dear Mom,

Your birthday was last month. I called you.

Mothers’ Day flew by – I called you briefly during our infamous ride.

That was all.

You haven’t mentioned it. That isn’t your style.

Living under your wing, I learned that expressing love and gratitude does not happen by checking the standard box on the Internet. It doesn’t happen on a certain day.

Hallmark helps us through the rough spots; the difficult terrain of arms-length relationships. Hallmark never met our family.

Your side of the family rarely sends written expression. I still have the blank sheet of paper you enclosed around the generous check you sent me after Gladys was born. In the memo of the check, you implored me to use it for myself.

I called you.

“Mom, you have a way with words.”

We both laughed. In my mind, I saw you after you had my older brother (your second child, as Gladys was my second) promising yourself that you would just send your daughter a check. You wouldn’t fill her mailbox with sentiments or demand her attention – just what she needs, nothing to distract.

Holidays have never been attached to a particular day for you either. You’ll remind us (again) that your family never celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday.

“My parents owned a nursing home. On Thursday we served the residents. We got around to Thanksgiving on Friday.”

You’d have beef roast in October and call it Thanksgiving.

“We’re all here. I’m thankful. That’s all you need really. Why fuss?”

There was the Christmas that you didn’t cook the Christmas roast. We were having too much fun and forgot. Christmas isn’t about food.

“We’ll have it tomorrow. It won’t go bad.”

I recall being caught in customs in Japan in February, having accidentally attracted attention to myself by declaring “Christmas presents” in my bleary-eyed honesty.

I was going home to celebrate Christmas, in February. Customs had never met our family either.
And so, every year is different from the year before. While my girlfriends write cards, send flowers, and attend brunches, I think of you and search for inspiration. I conspire with my siblings and compete for the best idea. I thumb through catalogues and realize that those marketing people have never met MY mother: my family.

So what about you, Dear Mother? You’re sophisticated, hip, travel a lot and already have, well, one of those, whatever it is. You are not impressed by Hallmark, at least not from your children. You want something that I thought about, something that is from me – not what the catalogue picked out. It doesn’t have to be today, just sometime. Sometime when the right thing jumps up and bites me.

So, Mom, this year I’m sending you the gift in that box. It is stylish, very practical, and well-designed - just what you would expect from your former-world-traveler-engineer daughter. Don’t get your hopes up too high, of course, I have next year to think about too.

I love it. I hope you love it too.

I would buy one for myself in a different color (and travel the world, sigh), but I’m too busy with my children.

I have lots of untraditions to pass on to the next generation.


Flea said...

I love this post. Tell us what it is!

AreWeThereYet? said...

What a fabulous post! I just live it! I am going to go vote for you again.

Your mom is truly a blessed are you.

Badass Geek said...

Traditions are what you make of them, and sometimes they aren't really worth holding up to year after year.

Indy said...

I love this post. I agree with Flea. Tell us what it is! At least you have your mom figured out. I hope she loves your gift. I know she will love this post.

Anonymous said...

What a surprise. That is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Mothers day is June 2, this year!

MIT Mommy said...

Thanks guys. Yes, my mother loved it. She called me. I won't expect a 'thank you note'. (tee hee)

I'll have to send you guys an email to tell you what it is. I really did drop it off at the post office about an hour before I put up this post. I'd hate to ruin the surprise for her!

She'll like it - but based on the phonecall, I would guess it hardly matters what I put in the box.

MOM said...

What a great surprise! George & Gladys are such artists! I can tell from their handprints that they are getting big, and the purse..I have never seen one like it before. If I had I would have bought it on the spot. I just can't wait to get back to Maryland so that I can use it with my matching seat belts. Thank you Thank you. Love Mom

Fry said...

How true Hallmark doesn't know me or my family...I never realized that by purchasing a pre-written card I was escaping really thoughtfulness and reflection. Now, I can never buy another card without a twinge of guilty and a rushing sense of insincerity...thank you...(smile***wink)
Your mom sounds amazing much like her daughter.