* Editor’s note: Debra is taking Mother’s Day off. This column first ran on Mother’s Day in 1996.
It’s that second Sunday in May again. Mother’s Day, just like Valentine’s Day, is a truly pointless holiday.
If you’ve treated Mom like an indentured servant day after day, a bouquet of wilting carnations isn’t going to make up for a year of neglect. Conversely, if Mom feels loved and appreciated all year, she doesn’t need a sappy card to let her know how you feel.
Mother’s Day. What a joke. One measly day to honor those who wipe the noses, cook the dinner and make sure there is clean underwear in the drawer. One day to say “thanks”‘ to the family chauffeur, cook, seamstress, counselor, tutor, housekeeper, referee and Jill-of-all-trades.
One day isn’t enough. At the very least, there should be Mother’s Day Eve, so there’s extra time to form those long lines of people waiting to give Mom the praise and attention she deserves.
On Mother’s Day, Mom deserves something tangible to remind her of her worth. Something to look at for encouragement when she’s just spent her entire weekend doing 37 loads of laundry and wondering how much a one-way ticket to Tahiti would cost.
Every mother who gets the kids to school in the morning with something in their stomachs and matching socks on their feet deserves a medal. Every mother who races to the office with baby drool on her blouse and splatters of strained peas on her sweater should get a trophy.
Give a plaque to every mother standing in a living room that looks like Toys-R-Us exploded there, while three toddlers bound up to greet Daddy at the door, and Dad looks at the mess in disgust and says “What did you do all day?”
But no, we don’t get any bronze trophies with little figurines on them, grasping briefcases in one hand and diaper pails in the other. We get cheesy cards and overpriced flowers that will be dead in three days.
This year, instead of getting Mom one of those nifty mop and broom organizers that ooze thoughtful sentiment, how about getting her something she really wants:
* One tall, cold glass of Diet Pepsi. All of it. No sharing, no “Just one sip.” One whole soda, all for Mom, without any greasy little fingerprints all over the sides and cookie crumbs floating on the top.
* One trip to the bathroom, and a whole shower, completely alone, without anyone pounding on the door or barging in at an inopportune moment. If there’s one thing worse than being surrounded by a group of screaming children fighting over a hula hoop, it’s doing so while soaking wet and wrapped in a towel.
* One crisis-free telephone call. Give Mom an entire conversation without anyone bursting into the room wailing a sentence that starts with “Mom,” followed by the other sibling’s name and a long list of grievances: `”Mom, Johnny’s rubbing peanut butter all over the cat again!” `”Mom, Judy’s stuffing Play-Doh up the baby’s nose!” `”Mom, Joey’s using your bra for a slingshot!”
* One wipe-free day. The only bodily fluids and/or secretions Mom has to wipe up will be her own. The motto of the day will be “You produced it, you wipe it.”
* A day when everyone finds their own stuff. Car keys, remote controls, homework, Barbie shoes, ponytail bands, baseball gloves — the whole family can do what Mom does when something is lost: look for it.
* Turnabout. While everyone else scrubs the toilets, folds the clothes, cooks the dinner and picks up the dog poop in the yard, Mom spends the day shopping, swimming or sunbathing. When she returns home, she leaves her clothes in a trail from the front door to the bedroom without worrying about how they will magically find their way into and out of the washing machine, fold themselves and hop into the dresser drawer.
She gets to plop down in the recliner, stretch, and ask, “What’s for dinner?” and then wrinkle her nose at the answer. Once dinner is on the table, she can announce she’s not hungry anymore because she just ate a bag of Doritos.
While Dad herds the kids into and out of the bathtub and puts them to bed, Mom kicks back and watches her favorite TV shows. Don’t call it a day yet, Dad. The dishes need washing, the litterbox needs cleaning and tomorrow’s school lunches need packing. And did you remember to return those phone calls from the principal, the insurance adjuster and the dentist’s office? And don’t forget, you were supposed to bake three dozen cookies for the T-ball game tomorrow.
And then, when the lights are finally out and Dad collapses his limp, aching body into bed, Mom waits until he’s just drifting off to sleep before deciding she’s “in the mood.” And nothin’ says lovin’ like a slap on the butt and a “Hey — you awake?”
And the next day, Dad, just for kicks, get up and do it all again. But don’t feel so overwhelmed, Pops. You’ve got that one day each year to look forward to, when you’ll get your cheesy card and overpriced flowers. That makes it all worthwhile, right?
Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to start appreciating Mom all year ’round? You can start with the Diet Pepsi. And make it a six-pack.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.edebra.com