In honor of Mother's Day and my mom, I'm going to do a couple of posts about things that I really appreciate about my mom. This is not Hallmark sweet. There won't be poetry or any of that mushy stuff. Just some things I think are swell about my mom.
So, today's post: birthdays and other special occasions. She never misses one. Every birthday, anniversary, and minor holiday, a card arrives in our mailbox, flowers are delivered, she sings on my answering machine, cake is served, and there is a party. I am 32 years old, and I have been given a birthday party by my mother every single year except for the two that I lived in Oregon. There is cake. There are presents. There is wacky singing of the Happy Birthday song by my family, only one of which has any vocal talents, including a boisterous verse about living in a zoo and acting (or smelling, depending on who is singing) like a monkey. There is tea served in my mother's yellow china cups and just right for dunking her delicious chocolate chip cookies. We play pool, table tennis, and darts in the basement or slap mosquitos on the back deck or sit around the fire pit in the backyard.
It would be enough if she just did this for me, but she actually throws a birthday party for every member of my extended family, most of whom live close by (my own family lives an hour away and doesn't make it to every single one...I also appreciate that the guilt trips about not attending have become less and less of an issue!) Some months there are three or more birthdays, and I can't think of a single month that has none. For my kids, she takes the party on the road and brings elaborate cakes in the shape of race cars, fire engines, and this year TWO cakes for the two boys: a motorcycle and a teddy bear!
The boys' cakes this year
She's amazing about special occasions, and I wish that as a mother I could be counted on to be like that, too. However, I'm the one who is at Target at 9:48 pm on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, picking up the leftover baskets and a few treats because it slipped my mind that a bunny should probably make a stop. I never send birthday cards, and I get Mother's Day and Father's Day greetings out in the mail on time about every other year. I rarely manage to get them a gift, or flowers, though I almost always call. Almost.
You see, somehow my mother's incredible conscientious knack for celebrating did not get handed down to her only daughter. Instead, I got my dad's gift for non-communication. From him, I have always received more random cards or gifts...sort of a "hey, we've been thinking about you for the last couple of years and I've been meaning to get this in the mail for you..." I joked with him last summer because he called to see what sizes my sons were, saying, "Well, should I just tell you a couple sizes bigger so they'll fit when we actually get them?" I hope he's okay with the joking, and realizes that I'm not any better. Heck, I didn't even send a card when his daughter, my little sister, turned five last month. (I did send an email, but that's not quite up to Mom's standards, that's for sure!)
So I guess I feel some Mother's Day guilt, since I'm SO not good at this special occasion thing, but I do really cherish the thoughtfulness of Mom. And I did get her a card this year. That's worth something, right?