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I Had a Lovely Mother’s Day, Thanks + A Rant

14 May 2007

Yesterday started on the early side. The girls and I drove the Consort to the airport at 7 am. He was off to Nicaragua for two weeks—and, after spending the day checking on the departures and arrivals of his three-leg trip (hmmm, that sounds kinda dirty; three-part?, three-plane?), we can say with confidence that he arrived on time in Managua yesterday evening. (The girls counted it up later in the day, and it seems that of the past 5 Mother’s Days, he’s been on a trip or at a conference for 4 of them. This is no big deal to me, because I’m not HIS mother, after all.)

When we got back from the airport, Trixie made up some pancake batter, Impera cooked them up, and I ate them (well, I did share). Trixie presented me with a lovely painting she made, the Consort had left a gift for me to open (a very cool embellished top made by a local textile artist), and Impera presented me with a home-cooked meal, to be prepared on Tuesday or Wednesday this week (seeing as I am the sole adult in charge of planning meals for the next two weeks, this is a welcome gift, indeed!).

After a few hours where I putzed around reading the paper and doing the Sudoku, and the girls did some WoW adventuring, we packed a lunch and headed out to explore the Heart of Iowa Nature trail. If the trail is representative, then the heart of Iowa is pretty narrow and straight, let me tell you. It’s a crushed gravel path that meanders between fields for miles and miles. There were trees here and there, so we found some shade under which to eat our sandwiches, but really, I think we’ll be sticking to other trails from now on. I did see a male Baltimore oriole (scroll down a bit to see the male; what fluorescent orange feathers!) and an American goldfinch (IA state bird, you know), as well as many of my favorite local birds: red wing blackbirds. More putzing around, then we spent the evening potlucking with our friends.

In all, a very pleasant day, spent with two of my three favorite people.

This weekend, some of my free time was spent reading blog posts (because no day is complete without some blog surfing!). There were, as you can guess, many Mother’s Day posts. A few (of people I don’t often read) really bugged me. I didn’t write about them over the weekend because I didn’t want to muddy my own very happy Mother’s Day.

Now that it’s the day after, however, I am free to rant. The blogs that bothered me were the ones where the blogger discussed the weaknesses of Mother’s Day (MD), to wit: if they were cooked anything, it would be food on the grill (because that’s all their spouse was comfortable cooking), so they end up cooking up a big feast otherwise THEIR mother wouldn’t get the MD she desired; the kids don’t really get a taste of ALL THE WORK the mother does during the other 364 days of the year (even mentioning an anecdote about a child who actually did mop the floor, etc, for MD, and when done, the child wouldn’t let anyone walk on the clean floor because he didn’t want his hard work to be ruined so quickly [implying that the mother’s weekly cleaning isn’t so respected, I suppose]).

First, what is all this about defining what you want as a gift? (The Sunday “Between Friends” comic was terrible in this regard: the little girl gives her mother a bottle of perfume, and although the mother thanks her daughter, she complains to herself that she had told her husband the kind of perfume she wanted, and this was NOT IT.) I believe that gifts are decided on by the GIVER, and the receiver should accept the gift graciously. I admit this wasn’t the case when I was growing up. There was the birthday gift that I chose for my mother one year. My father gave me some money, and I walked to the Fine Gift Shop on my own to pick something out: a little porcelain girl in a sweeping green dress wearing a sash with her birth month written across it. In typical childhood taste, I thought this was the most beautiful gift ever. I was so proud of my choice, and I was sure that my mother would like it. After thanking me in front of everyone, my mother pulled me aside and whispered, “I thought I told you I would give you enough money to get me a NICE present!”

I was crushed.

As a mother, I always respond “something you made yourself” when the girls ask me what I want for my birthday, Christmas, or MD. And I have treasured each and every paper ornament drawn with crayon on the back of recycled paper, poems decorated with little pictures, hand-stitched sachets, magnets with school pictures, etc. And really, once they’re adults, I won’t start asking for big MD feasts, either. If they want to make one because they enjoy cooking, fine. But no one should bitch that her kids don’t help with the meal for grandma, because grandma shouldn’t be asking for it. Period. To me, MD is a little kid’s holiday, a day set apart so they can tell their mom how much they love her.

Second, I have no sympathy for the “they don’t respect the work I do in the house” complaint I’ve read too many times on MD blog posts. If children have to work at something, they have more respect for keeping it up. My girls (10 and 12) each have a bathroom to clean. They each are in charge of several rooms to dust and rugs to vacuum. EVERY TIME WE CLEAN THE HOUSE. They still leave things all over the house, but so do I (I’m the worst clothes on the floor person in this house), and everyone pitches in when the house is neatened up, usually about twice a week.

From the time they were 5-ish, they’ve been in charge of folding and putting away their own laundry. Now, they are in charge of washing their own laundry. If they run out of clean underwear, they have to wear a dirty one while they run their load of laundry. One of them still folds her clean laundry, the other doesn’t. I think the slacker should fold it, but heck, if she wants to go around in wrinkled t-shirts, that’s her choice and it’s a battle completely not worth my time.

They empty the dishwasher, make their own lunches, and if they cook something, they have to clean up after themselves. If kids aren’t respecting the cleaning that done by others, get them involved.

Third, the “woe is me, my spouse doesn’t help at all” complaint holds no weight with me, either. The Consort does the food shopping, I do the laundry for both of us, we share cooking responsibilities. I’m not saying every relationship should work this way, but it works for us, and if someone doesn’t like the divvying up of chores in their household, they should TALK ABOUT IT with their spouse. Last I checked there’s no “Chores Men are Legally Not Supposed To Do” law out there. We’ve come a long way, baby.

I probably should have unpacked this post in smaller bits. Oh well. Rant over.

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