Now that the boys are no longer under parental direction when it comes to birthdays, Christmas, Father’s or Mother’s Day, it’s interesting to see how they approach these occasions.
As I’ve grown older, I notice the difference in myself when I have the time and presence of mind to get the perfect thoughtful little something for someone I care about, compared to the other end of the spectrum: That pressure of knowing a gift is expected, but perhaps I’m short on money, time, imagination, and so I find myself…stressed. Agitated that such things are expected. And what a tragedy to think of all the money spent on gifts that turn out not to be a good match for someone! Such thoughts can squeeze the love right out of giving.
So I hate that others might go through similar mental gymnastics in wanting to please me.
I found myself thinking about Mother’s Day last Saturday, the day before. (I had sent my own mom flowers, and arranged to make a special breakfast with Shawn for his mom, both of which felt good.)
Would the boys do anything for me?
What would it mean if they didn’t? Would it mean they didn’t love or appreciate me? Would it mean that I hadn’t raised them to be thoughtful? Would it mean that I was so insecure and shallow that I couldn’t rise above some commercially-mandated holiday and feel the love around me plain as day?
A friend sent me a link to an interesting essay by Anne Lamott, entitled “Why I Hate Mother’s Day,” which also provided some perspective.
So I let go and consciously decided to let things unfold and enjoy a beautiful, sunny Mother’s Day.
At 10 a.m. the boys announced they would be making lunch for me for Mother’s Day. How sweet, I thought. And: this could be entertaining…
Then at 11:30 a.m. one of the boys informed me that they would be taking me out to lunch instead.
At 12:30, with no sign of lunch in sight, the plans continued to evolve. They were now thinking they would make dinner for me.
Oldest Son invited me to take a walk with him at a nearby river in the afternoon to hunt for morel mushrooms. He convinced his brothers to handle the making of dinner. (It is possible that I was a tad concerned about how palatable said dinner might be.) At 5:45 we arrived home. No signs or smells of meal preparation.
“I decided we’d just buy her a salad from somewhere instead,” one of the brothers explained to Oldest Son.
“Great – then she still has to make the rest of us dinner, dipshit,” Oldest Son replied. “That defeats the whole point.”
After much confusion and indecision, we finally hopped on our bikes and rode downtown to Mackenzie River Pizza. The boys grumbled back and forth to each other about the changing plans, whose fault it was, who had money to pay, who didn’t, and on and on.
(For a moment I flashed upon a terrifying image of myself in a nursing home, these three in charge of making decisions on my behalf.)
I could hear their stress.
And the love behind it all.