I watched “The Little Mermaid” for the gazillionth time the other day. It was the first time I’ve watched it this century. However, it’s still as fresh and clever as it was in the 1980s. My favorite part is where she sings,
“I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whosits, and whatsits galore.
Thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty! But, who cares, no big deal, I want more…”
She goes on to explain that all of her material goods aren’t bringing her joy because she wants more out of life. In the case of “The Little Mermaid,” she needs a good set of feet. With Mother’s Day looming just around the corner, I was thinking the same thing — I don’t need gadgets or gizmos either. And, no, I don’t need another set of feet (although mine do hurt all the time). What I’d settle for is a 5-star Yelp review on my “Mommy Page.”
Let me explain.
I went on a road trip with one of my adult daughters the other day and learned a lot about myself. As a person and as a mother.
At one point, in the six-hour drive, she said, “Remember the time…” and began to recount an abstract conflict resolution theory I shared with her when she was around nine. She shared the exact situation involving my sister-in-law from which the theory emanated. I was rather shocked she remembered.
“Oh, I use it all the time Mom!”
In a world where we can’t help but dwell on the things we’ve gotten wrong, it was gratifyingly uplifting to hear that all these years later, she remembered such a subtle lesson.
Earlier in the day, she’d referenced the “criss-cross” cookies we used to make and the songs we used to sing when we made them and, as much as that meant to me, it wasn’t nearly as touching as hearing her credit me for some random abstract wisdom from yesteryear I’d completely forgotten about.
All of this got me to thinking about Mother’s Day. Retailers across the country are gearing up for this event. And every mother’s grown child is unholstering their credit card fully prepared to swipe it with fervor, as they purchase Mom something she probably doesn’t need. But whatever. It’s the American way…
Every year my children ask me what I want from the retailer’s offerings and every year I direct them to purchase me yet another pair of pajamas, slippers or robe. Sometimes I veer off of the traditional sleep-inspired paraphernalia and ask for a candle or bubble bath. This always strikes me as amusing gift requests coming from someone who never relaxes, much less sleeps … obviously the effort and desire is omnipresent.
But this year I’ve decided to steer things in a different direction.
What I really want is a 5-star Yelp review. (I’m speaking metaphorically — I don’t actually have a mommy page where my kids can drop by and leave a review and comments. I’m way too chicken for that!) For Mother’s Day, I want my kids to arrive at brunch prepared to share a wonderful memory of me from their childhood.
This can be a memory of:
– an over the top party I threw them
– undeserved mercy I granted (there was plenty of that!)
– times I saved their booties from a mistake or a poor choice (again, plentiful)
– the holiday traditions that still hold the most meaning
And so on and so on … you get the picture.
As I was working on this piece, thousands of examples of my great personal sacrifice came flooding back. I started thinking of all the hours I drove kids to dance and sporting events. This got me to wondering if there shouldn’t be some kind of program whereby we could log every hour and trade them in at some point for extra time at the end of our lives.
Eventually I said to myself, “It isn’t your job to remember and appreciate all the wonderful mom things you did as a mother, it’s your children’s!” What was my job was to remember my mother’s. I do remember, and often recounted to my mother, all the wonderful things she did for me in her life. I just did a lot of that in her declining years. But I can’t really recall if I truly appreciated my mother soon enough, or if I mostly took the easier route with the pajamas and candles.
I can’t speak for every other mother out there; I can only speak for myself, and I guess maybe The Little Mermaid. We’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty. We want more. I’m proposing Mother’s Day becomes the new Thanksgiving of Spring. I’d much prefer to hear what my kids are grateful for during my tenure as a mother than have them running around on Saturday wasting their hard earned money on $5.00 Hallmark cards and pajamas for a woman who doesn’t actually sleep.
I’m starting to think I’d prefer a simple, “Thank you for your service!”
Kids — for Mother’s Day, save your money and simply share an obscure memory, a lesson I taught you, or a tender moment I’ve probably forgotten about in all the hullabaloo of raising you people. Mothers really just want to know you remember.
But, I will take that bubble bath if you absolutely insist.