M is for mothers, memories

Sunday, May 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:17 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Note: I wrote this column four years ago and decided to revise it as I have a few new thoughts.

How many times have you hummed the famous Mother’s Day tune “M is for the many times you…?” Every year I fill in the blank with something different depending on my mood.

I remember my first Mother’s Day. My first-born was less than 3 months old, and I spent most days in a daze. M, back then, meant messes. Messy diapers (we didn’t have disposables). Stacks of clothes left on the arm of an overstuffed chair that I was too tired to fold. Tons of toys filled the cramped tiny apartment. To add to the clutter, the grandparents always bought BIG toys. The kitchen counter was covered with glass bottles waiting to be filled with formula.

As we added to the family and my little darlings grew, M stood for mouthy. Believe me, when they learn the word “No,” it’s all down hill.

During the teenage years, M became madness. Keeping everyone’s schedule straight nearly drove me insane.

Now the M stands for memories.

O begins a sentence I have repeated several ways. Oh, no! Oh, my! Oh, dear Lord. There are other O’s, but you get the picture. O never stood for obedient, but obstinate and obnoxious come to mind.

Now O stands for observation and opportunity. I’ve done my job and now I get to observe my children at work growing their children. I also take every opportunity to do things for my children and grandchildren that I didn’t have the time or money for when my own were growing up.

T conjures up many words: tantrums, tricycles and tears seem the most important. Tantrums when I wouldn’t buy that dollar toy that the grocer conveniently hung by the checkout line. Tricycles signaled the beginning of freedom for my kids. From the three-wheelers they eventually graduated to two, then they got gears and finally horsepower. I suggest that you put off the trike purchase until puberty. And tears — how many have I shed when one didn’t make the team or lost in the semi-finals of the spelling bee. And then there was the time when one of my sons finally got the courage to ask a girl out and she said no. Their achievements they owned; their disappointments we shared.

Now T translates to thrill. I am sometimes moved to tears watching a son cuddle his newborn or a daughter laugh at one of her kid’s silly jokes. They get it, this job of raising kids.

H is a biggie and one I can’t revise because it stands for humor (as in a sense of). If you don’t have it, you better get it, because you’re not going to make it through the process.

E is twofold — energy and embarrassment. From the moment my kids popped into the world, I never had enough energy. They, on the other hand, had too much.

Embarrassment has always gone both ways. I remember when the kids were little and we went to the mall. One of my children stopped dead in his tracks, pointed at a woman who had just passed and shouted, “Mommy, look at that great big fat lady!”

Later on, I became an embarrassment to my kids. On one occasion, when I was to go to a parent-teacher conference at my son’s junior high school, I discovered he had laid out the clothes that I was to wear; everything from sensible shoes to a drab skirt and white blouse with a Peter-Pan collar. (I wore it.)

R is for remembrances. Actually I don’t think of the word remembrances, I think of gifts, but I had to stick with the letters in mother. The first Mother’s Day gift I gave my mom was a genuine plastic mother-of-pearl brooch that spelled out mother in gold. I remember how proud I was when she pinned her nametag to her dress and wore it to church with her six kids trailing behind her down the aisle. The most unusual gift I received from one of my children was a corsage. Not your run-of-the-mill carnations, but one he had made when he worked for a florist. This creation sported three birds of paradise. Yes, I said three. The “birds” were so large — and heavy — that it took six pins to keep corsage in place and it stuck out about 8 inches from my shoulder.

Now R means relinquish, relaxation and relief. I have finally relinquished my grown children to the world. However, relaxation and relief will never happen. I still go to bed every night worrying about each one of them. And this is the worst kind of anxiety. At least when they were growing up I had some control.

If you have a comment or got an appliance for Mother’s Day, as I once did, please e-mail me at

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