This is the eighth Mother’s Day without my mother, who passed away April 11, 2005. I’ve written before about things I would like to tell her, and I can even add a few, like how tall her now 8-year-old great-grandsons are getting and how I can better understand the aches and twinges and difficulty getting out of a chair that comes with age.
But I have questions too. Here are only a handful of the things I would love to ask my mother:
Even though we didn’t have a kosher home, why was it okay that we frequently ate bacon, but a “pork chop” was foreign and forbidden?
Why were you reluctant to send me to Temple Beth Israel Sunday School and upset that I spent money on a menorah, but you blanched at the fact that a boy with the last name of Olson (clearly not Jewish) walked me home from a party?
Why did you think I would wear an ugly polka-dotted bathing suit you bought—convinced that the argument, “It cost only a dollar!” would win me over? (I did eventually wear the suit, and at times so did you—but you looked great in it, as in anything, and I looked…polka-dotty.)
Did you really start my toilet training at 6 months? That’s what you told me to do with my own babies, but I thought that was ludicrous and quoted the baby guru at the time, Dr. Benjamin Spock, to back me up. If you did practice what you preached, is that the reason I have so many anxieties today? (On second thought, skip this one. I really don’t want to know.)
How is it that you were happy having so little in the early days of my life: a small 3-room apartment, a wringer washing machine that you had to go down to a dark damp basement to use, no driver’s license, a husband who had to be at the post office before dawn and then came home to sleep all afternoon, and a fearful little girl who cried for the first four days of kindergarten?
How is that you maintained that happiness (at least from this child’s perspective) when Dad was drafted and you and I had to move in with Grandma and Grandpa in a one-bedroom apartment? And sleep in the dining room on a fold-out bed? And endure—twice!—the collapse of part of the ceiling?
I’ll never have the answers to these questions…just my own speculations. But I feel good having thought about them. It shows, Mom, that you’re still a presence in my life and thoughts. Not just on Mother’s Day, but always.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends and family who are mothers or who provide mother-like support and love.