My Mother’s Day plans for this year were no different than they have been in the past two years. I planned to stay home, not get out of my pajamas, and watch re-runs of Law & Order all day — all plans indicating that this Hallmark Holiday would not look like any of those Hallmark cards — yet again. I did celebrate with my mother earlier — not because I thought my children might plan something for me on this day, but because I planned to celebrate Mother’s Day my way.
After all, my son (who is in the middle of Finals for his first year of law school) called me two weeks ago and hesitantly apologized, “Mom, I’m so sorry I missed Mother’s Day!” And my daughter (in the middle of some pretty consuming health issues) dropped by yesterday to borrow something and promise me that we would do something for Mother’s Day this year next Sunday. So, this is actually a really good year. My children got the date wrong, but they are aware the holiday exists, which actually is quite heartwarming.
So all of these well-intentioned sentiments moved me to write this prayer in between Season 7 and Season 8 of the Law & Order marathon today:
“First, God, just help them to live their lives . . . to live wild, adventurous, significant, meaningful lives — that they pay for all by themselves.
May they be Honest — whether it’s about their tattoos or vacations to Vegas or doubts about their marriages or even anger about all the things I did wrong — may they be honest, because we have certainly learned (and science has confirmed) that it is the secrets that make us sick and do the most damage of all.
When my son remembers the time I forgot to pick him up from school because I was mired in my addiction, may he be overwhelmed with gratitude for his own sobriety and “keep coming back” to his own program of Recovery.
When my daughter remembers the time she told her entire Fifth Grade class that her mother’s best recipe was “Take Out,” may she call a number from her own list of favorite take-out restaurants — without any guilt!
When my son is tempted to “write off” marriage in the cynicism that comes from a broken family, may he remember that night when we were driving (he was about 11 years-old) and it was a full moon and he looked at the star-filled sky and said, “Mom, is it possible for something to be so amazing that it hurts?” Help him to know that the best things do hurt sometimes.
And mostly help him to remember to look up.
When my daughter is tired and scared and full of doubt about how to make her life work, help her to remember all those times when she bravely stood on a five-inch-wide plank of wood and did back-handsprings and cartwheels and all kinds of insane moves on an apparatus ironically called the balance beam. Help her to know that the most amazing things in life — at some points — scare us to death.
And mostly help her to keep her balance.
Guide my son into a job that uses his wisdom and incredible capacity to argue and advocate . . . but help him keep his wild sense of humor. He’s going to need it if he becomes a lawyer.
Protect my daughter in this business she has chosen — fashion and image consulting. While she works on outer beauty, will you work on her inner beauty? And give her many, many days when she doesn’t have to wear high heels.
And when I grow old and can’t remember where I left my keys — much less how to pay my bills, please remind my children of this Mother’s Day when I loaned them money and took them out to dinner and barely made them feel guilty.
Will you help them to help me and help me to let them?
And miraculously banish all guilt from our relationship from this day on . . . .
And, horror of horrors, when I can no longer take care of myself, and they need to help me with basic bodily functions, will you remind them, “My mother did this for me a thousand times,” and then flood us with the delayed gratitude that has not always shown up on Mother’s Day?
The truth is, Mother’s Day is a pretty meaningless holiday unless this stronger-than-a-hurricane love we’ve shared doesn’t show up on the other days, when . . . .
they whisper the truth about their lives
and I tell them the truth about mine
they ask for a few dollars to get through the end of the month
and I ask them to go to church with me on a day that isn’t Christmas or Easter
they laugh until we are all crying while playing a silly board game
and I cry about some sentimentality and they stay right there with me and don’t say, “Oh, Mom, stop,” (like I just did something completely mortifying like “mooning” the car beside us on the road — Oh, wait, they’ve done that!)
No, the only thing that makes any day a true Mother’s Day is when I can see my children through Your God eyes, and oh wonder of wonder, they begin to see me through Your God eyes as well.
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