I know Mother’s Day was over 2 weeks ago, so I guess you could say I am a bit late with a Mother’s Day post. It is funny, when I was pregnant with Nico during Mother’s Day 2015 people sent me notes to say Happy Mother’s Day. It felt a bit odd to me, as we had not yet met this little baby boy. This year also felt a bit strange — as he is still so young.
My mom passed away when I was 16, and even then she was not really present in my life going back to the age of 12. Those four years in between were filled with doctors appointments, hospitals, nurses, at-home health equipment, food stamps, depression, and so much more. I do not remember much about middle school and the beginning of high school, but I remember the bed pans, the pain, the fear of not being there for her. What kid should go through that? I also do not remember much about how we spent our Mother’s Day each year.
So why do I sound like the scrooge of Mother’s Day? I strongly believe that we do not need these hallmark holidays. Those that know Chris and I will know that my response to someone who says, “Chris, pamper Tami on Mother’s Day.” I would say to that, “pamper me everyday.” Why not, right? We should love, cherish, and take care of each other each and every day. Why find one day out of the year to share appreciation? Why not do it every day? I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day and a plethora of other hallmark holidays.
So since I have spent more Mother’s Day without my mom than I spent with her it maybe takes a bit of the pizazz out of the day for me. Since Nico is so small, why celebrate? When he is old enough to care I would rather he decide how he would like to approach the day. Some kids get really into it. At the end of the day, though, I would rather teach and model to him that we cherish each other every day. Why not, right? Life is short.
Yesterday was Father’s Day, and it was not until a friend ask to switch our brunch plans to later in the day that I remembered what day it was. Often Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to fly by without much thought. My dad has been gone for 15 years as of this year, and it gets harder and harder to think about what my life would be life if he were here.
Recently we were talking about fishing at work. A few co-workers are fishing fans, and I was remembering a time when we stayed at a lake near our house in Indiana. I believe the cottage was owned by a friend of my grandma’s and every once in a while we got to go and stay with her, which meant playing in the lake and fishing. Something tells me what felt like a big lake at the time would probably look a lot like a pond to me now, but it always felt special and kind of a big deal to me.
I remember one weekend we visited, on the Saturday morning for some reason I slept really late, when I went outside to see what everyone was up to, I found my sister and brother were out fishing with my dad (this photo shows me standing on the pier, my brother is next to me, then my sister, then my dad). For as long as they had been out fishing, no one had caught a single fish. I asked my dad if I could use the bamboo fishing rod, that for some reason I thought was so special. My sister and brother were using real fishing rods. I did not like putting the bait on the end, so I left that up to my dad, and I doubt I even put the line in, but what I did do (which is completely against my nature) was sit and hold that bamboo rod, and eventually I caught a fish, and then another and another. My brother and sister eventually got bored, and most likely annoyed that I was having such luck. They went inside or off somewhere else to play.
It was just me and my dad and my happy success. I do not remember if we kept the fish and had them for dinner or if we put them back. What I remember was that I thought there was something special with that bamboo fishing rod, and that I got to spend some time fishing with my dad.
You can see all the fish I caught in this photo. I wish the photographer had not cut me out of the photo. I would love to see the look on my face showing my bounty. I know I have been fishing a few more times since then, probably while camping, maybe even with my dad, but that Saturday morning was the one I will never forget. He was happy, relaxed, and content to just sit on the side of the dock with his feet in the water, and watch us have fun with the process. Life was not usually that good to him (or so he thought) and so this year, Dad, I hope whatever you are doing, you are happy, relaxed and content. Wish we could go fishing again.
I love those days when I find similar articles, ideas, and inspiration from different sources. If you have read my blog over the past few months you will see a trend of blog posts about women not being given paid leave after having a baby. It was not something I knew much about until my sister and friends started having babies and didn’t resonate as much until Chris and I started thinking about having a family one day.
As I get older and older, a certain political issue may have a different meaning to me. Once you own your own home you start to look at different laws and legislation differently then when you rented. As you endeavor towards different aspects of your life, your world view expands or maybe contracts (although I hope it only expands). Our country’s unpaid maternity leave standards is something that I still do not understand. How does it show a woman (aka a mother) that not only does her contribution at work matter, but it matters that she (and her husband) take time to take care of their newborn and not worry about paying the bills for those first few ever so important days and months of their baby’s life?
This is why I loved finding these two videos today as a response to Mother’s Day and unpaid maternity leave. The first is actually a clever campaign video from Hillary Clinton. She is right when she says: “It is outrageous that America is the only country in the developed world that does not have paid leave.” and “We can do a lot if we do it together.”
The below video, from John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, gives his take on America’s unpaid leave policy for women. Itis quite hilarious. He shares different examples of women and when they go back to work, and the fact that they get 12 weeks of unpaid leave. I love his comment about the woman who had a baby on Friday and went back to work on Monday. He says: “You have definitely got everyone’s bullshit ‘what-I-did-over-the-weekend story’ beat.”
Another great line is at 10:30 into the video: “Get the f#$% back to work. Seriously. Because you can’t personally afford to take the time off you want, we are going to need you to bring your exhausted ass back to work and show us that can-do attitude that moms are famous for.” It makes a statement while also being funny.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Each year it feels like just another day to me. I think of my mom and grandma and it makes me sad, and then that just feels like a waste of time. Last year and again this year I think about my sister and how much she loves motherhood (well most of the time I think). I love watching her with Charlie. It is like she has settled into herself in a way that feels almost impossible to explain. It suits her. Her admiration for that little bambino is awe-inspiring to watch, and she always has Charlie’s best interest in mind.
Last week I saw the most precious video on motherhood, and wanted to share for all those moms, grandmas, and sisters who mother. It is a video that shows that we are all truly unique, whether it is our smell, skin, or hair. Somehow these little ones know what is important. Even blindfolded they know what home means, they know who their mother is, and watching it unfold is priceless.
Make sure to tell your mom or grandma or sister how much they mean to you this Sunday (or every day). If you are nearby touch their skin and hair, make physical contact and connect with them in a deep way. You might not be three years old, but I am sure they will feel just as honored as these mothers did…
I never remember my mom reading books, and yet I think she would if she had the time. Often she worked all day, had a second job, helped us with our homework, made our meals, cleaned the house. As many moms out there know, it is a thankless job, and yet I never remember my mom complaining. She stayed up all hours of the night for months to make our Christmas presents so that we would have something to unwrap under the tree. I did not know that at the time, and yet thinking back on the gifts she made for us I know the countless hours it took for her to pull it all off. If she was purchasing the gift she would put it on layaway months and months in advance and diligently go and pay a little more each week until it was finally paid off. This was before she had a credit card so it was the only way she was ever able to get gifts under the tree.
She was the epitome of stretching things to make ends meet. While I never saw her reading books, I always saw her studying the Bible, our church books, and praying. She read those periodicals voraciously. She was adamant that we all read well and, while I do not remember when I started to read, I rarely got in trouble for staying up to read with the flashlight. She must have known that one day I would figure out that I could either get sleep and feel rested or not and pay for it the next day.
While I do not remember my mom pushing me to read, I think she gently encouraged reading and knew I escaped into a book often as a kid. My home life was not the greatest place, and somehow I would jump into the plot of a book, and I could transport myself into a whole different realm. We were her guinea pigs while she was getting her Masters degree in Education. We would read excerpts and have to answer questions and I absolutely HATED the reading comprehension tests she made us take for her classwork. I hated it just as much on the SATs. I like reading, but I hated regurgitating it later with a list of questions.
As I think about storytelling, reading, and the passion I have for stories, I have a smile on my face. My brother-in-law makes up stories for my 2 month old niece and I know that she will have the adventure of story in her life. While I will not make her take practice reading comprehension tests, I know she will carry on the tradition of voraciously reading, like her mom and my mom. Stories let us live an entirely different life, if even for just a few moments.
My mom was a badass. I only wish she knew it. Maybe she did, I will never know.