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Say Nice Things to Your Mother

Or, if it’s too late, about her (in which case you can skip the flowers and candy, or enjoy them yourself)

In due to Anna Jarvis, who lobbied for a day to thank our mothers and give women a share of the limelight trained on men, I can think of a couple of good things to say about Mother’s Day.
    First, it’s broad enough to include us all, for while all of us are not mothers, we all do have mothers.
    Second, all of us children expect our mothers to do for us — or wish they would. Indoctrinated in being the center of interest, we tend to give mother short due. Thus it may, as Jarvis believed, take a designated day to refocus our attention from ourselves onto her. We’d be following in the spirit of Jarvis, who decried her invention’s latter commercialization, to use this day to say nice things to mother. Or about her.
    If I have to choose between nice words and candy or flowers, I’ll take nice, and ideally sincere, words. But if I don’t have to choose, I’ll take it all, especially if the candy is dark chocolate and the flowers gardenias.
    When it comes to nice words, almost every mother I know, or knew, would prefer they be said to her rather than about her. But some of us have missed the boat on that, and Mother sailed to that far-off distant shore before we either had anything nice to say … or imagined that she might have found such expressions lacking, at least after we entered our teens.
    So as Mother’s Day approaches, Bay Weekly opens its pages to words and stories about mothers. Some years it’s poems about mothers. Other years it’s stories about how she made us the women and men we are, often against our wills. A couple of years back, lots of writers joined together to tell their stories of how, with your mother on your side, you felt you had muscle, if not invincibility.
    Each of those stories made us feel pretty good about our mother and she — if she got to read them — pretty good about herself and the job of mothering she did.
    This year Anne Sundermann, who you may know as director of Calvert Nature Society, one-ups us all a bit, for her story is about not just one mother but two. Anne promises me that Joan Sundermann, who stands in the background of this story, heard plenty of good things from her children in her lifetime. Birth mother Mary Hayes is hearing her long-lost daughter’s encomiums only recently, including in this story.
    As each one of us has a Mother’s Day story to tell, I’d like to lubricate the telling with a few suggested questions. My questions are frank because mother does long for a true and valid review of how you, who has standing in the matter, think she did her job. In telling the truth you, of course, will be charitable and merciful, for nobody, certainly not mother, wants the whole truth.
    • How does she look in your mind’s eye?
    • When did you feel best loved?
    • What special thing she did pleased you the most?
    • How, gently now, did she get under your skin?
    • What could you have done with more of?
    • Less of?
    • If you knew then what you know now, what would you have asked for?
    • How have you taken after her?
    • What’s a lesson, or habit, you’d have never thought would stick — but did?
    • What do you forgive her for?
    • What would you ask her to forgive you for?
    Well, that’s pretty heavy duty. Maybe you should skip the story and settle for candy and flowers.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com