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" `M' is for the million things she gave me . . . `O' is for I know she's growing old . . . `T' is for the tears she shed to save me . . ." Good grief!

Year after year, I hated having to line up with the rest of my Sunday School class and sing that stupid song. I thought it was sappy and, worst of all, I never could remember the H-E-R part.Half a century later, I still don't like the song or the sugary cards, and my son knows better than to try to dress me up and take me out to lunch where some entrepreneur who never even had a mother will try to shove a plastic rose in my hand.

Heresy? Maybe. But I've always been offended by people who associate motherhood with martyrdom. After all, it's not like we didn't ask for it.

Don't get me wrong, motherhood is not just an exercise in letting the good times roll. If I implied that I'd be as bad as the syrupy spreaders of sweetness and light.

It's had its hairy moments.

Like the time he won a bagful of lifelike plastic spiders at the school's Halloween Carnival. The little sneak waited until I had gone to bed, tippytoed into the kitchen and strategically placed the offensive arachnids on the counter and in the sinks.

Since I always cook breakfast without my glasses (with my cooking it doesn't matter whether I can see to do it or not) he knew I wouldn't be able to tell the phonies from the real thing. It cracked him up the next morning to see me hopping around in a frenzy, swearing and smashing plastic spiders with a slipper.

Somewhere around age 12 when the old hormones began bubbling, my loving, golden-haired, prankish boy child was miraculously transformed into a steely-eyed know-it-all from whom even my simplest questions triggered "The Look."

We're 40 miles from home. In my pocket are two tickets to a Braves game. I have just parked the car at the Atlanta Stadium when I notice something is a little different about his feet.

"Why are you wearing Dad's shoes?"

"Because . . ." followed by "The Look."

"How are you going to get inside? How are you going to go to the restroom? How are you going to fetch popcorn, hot dogs and Cokes every 20 minutes?"

Shrug. "The Look."

He shlepped in five paces behind me, his father's shoes another five paces back.

The passing years have mellowed us both. Now when I behave in what he terms my "irrational mode" he just pats me on the head and gives me a hug.

And when he bombs one in on me, I threaten to come live with him.