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It’s Another Be Good to Mother’s Day: Are We Even Yet?

May 8, 2010

Like most kids at a young age, I didn’t quite get why there was a Mother’s Day, and there wasn’t a Kid’s Day–not realizing that every day was a kid’s day. Kids of course do realize that Moms are valuable. They get up with us in the middle of the night when we’ve had a bad dream; kiss our boo-boos; suffer the fate of reminding us to make our beds, only to have us very peeved at being reminded. And of course Moms remind us of all they went through in that funny state called pregnancy. When I was around five I repeatedly asked in public (no doubt too loudly), if every woman with a belly was pregnant. I finally got the prototype distinguishing fat from pregnant figured out.

From a kid’s vantage point, Mother’s Day is that one day a year when you can finally get to even. Parents think it’s give, give, give, but  from a child’s perspective it’s normal to be on the receiving end–after all you’re the kid.   But just for good measure, on Mother’s Day  you’ll go a little out of your way.  Come Sunday, kids to the 83 million mothers in the U.S. will  give  painted macaroni bracelets (the one I got many years ago is still in my top drawer); or flower pots with a small seedling so that Mom has one more thing she can tend to; or a breakfast of eggs and toast served bedside; or a crayon drawing; or an after-school project of a  lanyard made  of carefully collected gum wrappers; years later  you’ll have her over  for Sunday brunch in your home.

It takes a few decades to realize that you’ll never be even. There is no quid pro quo in the parent-child relationship–it’s a Ponzi scheme–pay-it-forward. But children hopefully can know that their irreplaceable gift is of themselves. It’s the everyday gift of the gummy grin of a 4-month old; it’s the school kid’s effort to make a parent proud with good grades; it’s trusting enough to share a confidence; it’s the courage to risk hurting your Mom’s feelings, because you want a better, fairer relationship;  it’s the gift of finding meaningful ways to stay connected despite your imperfections and hers. On this Mother’s Day, to children, growing and grown, mothers, young and old…treasure the everyday gifts you give to each other, and know that you’ll never be even.

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