In search of story

Question for Mothers’ Day


So it’s Mothers’ Day. Hooray for Hallmark.

Everyone spells it Mother’s Day, as though it is something unique for each mom, but, unless you have a four-year-old turned loose with crayons and glue stick, there is nothing very unique about it at all, and so I spell it Mothers’ Day by way of protest. It’s one-size-fits-all because it markets well. Buy something, anything! Prove you love your mom! I have two wonderful sons. They don’t need to prove anything on Mothers’ Day. They probably wouldn’t agree, but, hey, I’m the mom and it’s Mothers’ Day, so I’m right.

I am busy with my own Mothers’ Day thoughts, which have turned back to my grandmothers. Perhaps you have met them in my blog. One was kind; one was not. Each shaped me.

Both were daughters of immigrants. Both were born into poverty, one in the coal country of Pennsylvania and the other in a back-of-the-yards tenement in South Chicago. Neither finished grade school. One went to work in a box factory, gluing velvet to the insides of boxes; the other went to live with another family as their servant. Both had alcoholic fathers who were not admirable men.

Both worked very hard. Both held staunchly to the faith taught by their own mothers.

Both died at 90, so they weren’t just wispy aproned memories from my childhood; they were flesh-and-blood women who walked firmly in the day-to-day of family. They held my hand and held my babies.

I knew them as mothers of my parents. But who were they before they were mothers?

And that, daughters and sons of mothers, is the question for Mothers’ Day.

2 thoughts on “Question for Mothers’ Day

  1. I’ve been grappling with this question, myself, now that my daughter has moved out. And social media has turned this holiday into a competitive sport by making it very easy to compare. Thanks for putting what I was feeling into eloquent words, Maureen. And giving me a new way to spell and see Mothers’ Day.

  2. You are so right that it’s a question to ask of ourselves. I think there’s an amnesia that comes with motherhood and we do tend to forget who we were before those little bundles came along. They are ever so cute and then — poof! — they’re grown and gone! And we have to pretend we’ve let them go. And then try to remember what we were doing when we were interrupted by all those little fingers and toes.

    But what great entertainment we can look back on as we try to figure this out.

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