A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
NOT MY MOTHER
Iím not sure how the subject came up, but somehow I happened to mention to my colleague that I was going Motherís Day shopping during my lunch break.
"I thought you said your mother had passed away," my colleague wondered.
"She did," I said. "Twenty years ago."
"Then who are you shopping for?" he wanted to know.
I hesitated. Who else would I be shopping for on Motherís Day?
"For Anita," I said.
I didnít add "duh!" Ė but I thought it.
He looked at me with the same incredulous look that I was giving him.
"But sheís your wife," he said.
"Uh-huh," I said. "And the mother of my children."
"Exactly," he said. "So they should get Motherís Day presents for her."
"They do," I responded. "And so do I."
"But sheís not your mother," he said. "I mean, Iím sure Hallmark loves it that youíve bought into their fabricated little holiday so completely. But I donít understand why you would buy a Motherís Day present for someone who isnít your mother."
I squirmed a little. I had never thought much about this. My father always gave Motherís Day presents to my mother, and I had always given them to Anita. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But suddenly I wasnít sure why. And my colleague could sense that.
"Iím not being critical or anything," he said. "If you want to give your wife a present on Motherís Day, you go right ahead. I just honestly donít get it. Do you give her a present on Fatherís Day, too? I mean, sheís the one who made you a father, isnít she?"
He didnít add "duh!" Ė but Iím sure he thought it.
I mumbled something about stimulating the economy by taking advantage of the Motherís Day sales and retreated to the relative safety of a nearby mall, where nobody asked me to explain why I was buying a Motherís Day present for my wife. But as I wandered from store to store I found myself wondering: "Why DO I buy Motherís Day presents for Anita?"
Thankfully, it didnít take long to figure it out.
Itís because of the things she willingly sacrificed when she chose to be a stay-at-home mom for most of the first 20 years of our marriage.
Itís because of the things she willingly sacrificed when family finances finally prompted her to choose to take a job outside the home for most of the past five years.
Itís because she has poured her heart and soul into loving, effective, creative mothering.
Itís because itís what my mother taught me to do.
Itís because of her patience with everything from potty training to driverís training.
Itís because of her fierce loyalty to our children and her eagerness to stand by them whether they were receiving a much-deserved honor or a much-deserved reprimand.
Itís because of two words: labor pains.
Itís because of the things she has taught me and my children and the ways in which she has helped us to grow during more than 25 years of living and loving together.
Thatís why I consider it an honor to honor her on Motherís Day. It isnít just about a present or flowers or a card in response to a great marketing campaign. Itís about 25 years of accumulated love, gratitude, appreciation and respect.
Even if sheís not my mother.
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Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.