Mum’s the Word!

I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise, but tomorrow is Mother’s Day. If you had totally forgotten, there’s still time to go find a card, box of chocolates, or make plans to take that special mom to dinner, so consider yourself warned. You’re welcome.

What is a mom? I know what you’re thinking. As soon as you read that question, you thought, “Really? Does she not have a dictionary?” Yes, I do. Several in fact. And to answer your next question, yes, I do use them. But your mother can be someone other than the person who brought you into the world. In fact, sometimes they make the best moms.

Case in point? I’ve mentioned before that the mother of our cat dropped Button off the roof of our house. As a reminder, we named the kitten Button because she was, well, cute as a button. And to digress…what does that expression even mean? Cute as a button. If you want to get a headache, google it. I did when I decided it was a stupid expression, because buttons aren’t necessarily cute. I do have some cute ones I put on doll clothes I crochet, but they’re in the shape of a cat, heart, flower, etc. I’m pretty sure nobody would call a generic white button on one of Ed’s shirts cute.

At any rate, Boo’s mom took her kittens to the roof, found a hidey hole by the patio cover, and moved in. Just so you don’t get confused, (as if you already aren’t,) most of our cats have multiple names. Button’s nickname is Boo, because as a kitten she acted a little like the child on Monster’s Inc., so it seemed a fitting nickname. At some point in the game, Button ended up in the yard, screaming her little lungs out. Evidently her “real” mom didn’t want to put up with her nonsense and pushed her off. Boo’s siblings were still safely tucked away on the roof. It seemed rather pointless to put Button back on the roof, because her mom would probably “accidentally” do the same thing again.

Button ended up in our house, with me bottle feeding her. Okay, right there, that makes me a better mother than the one who gave her birth. You’d think Boo would be so appreciative of me, especially since I’ve never shoved her off the roof, but you’d be wrong. She loves her dad. Her dad who never has quite gotten the hang of bottle-feeding tiny kittens. Her dad who doesn’t put a small amount of canned corned beef on the counter for her to eat. Her dad who doesn’t share his meatloaf sandwich with her. Get the point? Boo thinks the sun rises and sets on Ed. Me? She’s totally forgotten how I tenderly cared for her until she could take care of herself. She simply puts up with me because she knows I’ll give her a piece of pepperoni from my pizza and her father won’t. In other words, my only value to her is food related.

And before all you cat lovers and veterinarians reading this start complaining about the food our cats eat, let me remind you that the average life span of one of our cats is about eighteen years. Our vet stopped lecturing me on the harmful effects of bacon on felines when he figured out it was pointless and realized most of our babies would outlive him.

In my experience, a lot of women have a love/hate relationship with their mother. Moms tend to have a stronger bond with their son, and daughters with their father. I know that’s a rash generalization, but it does seem to be a fairly common occurrence. My dad always wanted a son, but he was stuck with two daughters. I got elected to the position. Pretty sure there wasn’t a formal election with a voting booth and all the campaign ads, but if you look at old pictures of our family, it’s fairly easy to tell how it worked.

I was Daddy’s shadow. I could shoot a rifle as well as any guy, learned how to work on a car, and spent more than one day walking along a riverbank with a flashlight, helping him look for frogs. Yes, I grew up eating frog legs. And, no, they don’t taste like chicken. But they are yummy. Being a tomboy did have its downside. When the guy I went to the prom with brought the prom pictures, I was laying underneath an old 1956 Cadillac putting on a tailpipe. I never saw him again.

Many years later, long after Daddy died and Mom was living close to me in Texas, she and I became very close. When she died, I lost my best friend. Relationships with moms change as you get older, which is a good thing. The Big Bang Theory did an episode on that last Thursday. Next week will be the series finale, and I think they wanted to have Leonard’s relationship with his mom cleared up before it went off the air. In case you’ve never watched the show, she treats him like crap, but he finally got to the point in his life where he realized that how she treated him didn’t really reflect badly on him, but on her. I like how they handled it.

I was lucky. When I got stationed back in California, my mom kept insisting I look up someone my parents went to school with in Oklahoma. That was about the last thing in the world I wanted to do, because, well, what twenty-something wants to make friends with old people their parents knew? But I finally caved. Come to find out, the friend had a house two blocks from my apartment complex. Ilene became my other mother.

Along with Jess and Ilene came their three children, two sons and a daughter who became my “other” siblings. That was 46 years ago, and I still call Linda my sister. We’ve been through so much together. Jess is the one who walked me down the aisle when Bruce and I got married, and Ilene would have been offended if I stopped calling her Mom. They’re both gone, as are both their sons. The only downside of my relationship with Linda is that she’s in northern Louisiana and I’m in southern Texas. But through a relationship with someone who wasn’t technically my mother, I have another sister who I am closer to than almost anyone in my life, even if we are geographically challenged. That wouldn’t have happened without my own mom pushing me to befriend Ilene.

So, again, I ask. What is a mom? Someone who takes care of you, encourages you, has your back, is there to lend an ear or a shoulder, and won’t drop you off the roof if you’re getting on their nerves. I find it interesting that the fifth commandment is honor they father and mother. The first four commandments are about your relationship with God. They should be the most important and listed before anything else. But the next commandment, before anything about living an honorable life, is about your parents. God certainly knew what the pecking order of life’s important behaviors should be.

Tomorrow, remember the mothers in your life who have had a hand in making you who you are. Your birth mother, your adopted mother, your father who filled two roles, a close friend who you think of as a mother, and anyone else who fills that role in your life. Whether you call them mom, mother, mum, mommy, or dad, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy to let them know they’re appreciated. A simple phone calling saying you’re thinking of them and loving them will probably mean more than a box of candy, and it’ll be a whole lot less fattening.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

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