My annual search for the perfect card - I spent 45 minutes at the grocery store reading Mother's Day cards one afternoon last week. It always seems to come down to finding the least bad card. "Why are they so sappy?" I wonder as I stand there, my cart half full of groceries. Who are the perfect mothers the cards are talking about? Are there perfect mothers out there? Maybe it's their kids who grow up to become greeting card writers.
Every year, the same inadequate categories: From Both, From Son, From Son and wife, From Daughter, From Daughter and husband. Notice that wife is not capitalized, but Son is? Why is that? How about some new categories like "Just Okay," "You did the best you could," "Emotionally Unavailable"? I want to be entertained reading cards to give to moms who were "Obsessive," "Too Busy" or "Thinks She's All That." What would cards say for "Overwhelmed," "Permissive" or "Single" moms? At least now there are a few cards for "Like a Mother," "Any Mom" and "Friend." Is it just me, or does everyone have a tough time finding a good card? "Real Mom" cards, that's what's missing.
What's with the word "Mother" anyway, who calls their mom "Mother?" I never called my mom Mother. Ma and Momma are not represented at all.
Don't get me started about the pictures either ... flowers, seascapes, nature scenes. Come on, when I think of Mom, the scenes that come to mind are of her pulling weeds, doing laundry, shooing us out of the house or grading papers. Cards that show moms seem to always depict them as young, hip, slim, well dressed and serene. What's up with that? That's the pre-motherhood look!
Why so few humorous Mother's Day cards? Isn't humor a requirement in motherhood? The best card I read had a wacky cartoon mom dashing across the room holding scissors, gleefully saying to her baffled children, "Wheeeeee! Running with scissors is fun! I'm off to meet a stranger for some candy, then jump off a bridge with my friends! Bye!" The caption under the picture was "Sally Johnson, World's Worst Mom." I laughed out loud. For a couple of minutes I had two of that card in hand for my sisters-in-law. As I continued browsing, I started having second thoughts, doubting myself, worrying that they might think that I think that they are bad mothers and not be amused. Regretfully, I put the funny cards back. So no card for the sisters-in-law on that day, but there's still time. I have to peruse the "Any Mom" section more intently next time.
Why so many words? Who has time to read all that sap? The fewer words, the better. Real moms don't have time to read long, drawn-out sentiments. Short, sweet, inane, funny - something to bring a smile because moms need it. If I receive a long, sappy card, I pretend I am that great mom. Like most moms, though, I just do the best I can.
On my second venture, success. I did find cards, "From Your Son and Daughter-In-Law," and for a "Special Person on Mother's Day." Later, talking with my husband, he said, "Good, can you get some kind of potted plant for Mom, too? Something with buds that might flower just in time for Mother's Day would be good." I laughed because I had thought I was done.
As for me? I like homemade cards of crookedly folded construction paper with crayon drawings. My Mom still has one Mother's Day gift I made her years ago. I don't know how old I was. After cutting a heart shape out of a scrap of red felt I'd found, I sewed a couple mismatched pieces of lace around it with big awkward stitches, then sewed the heart onto a white plastic doily I'd taken out from under one of the table lamps in the living room, stitching "I love you Mom" in the middle of the heart. It's been on her dresser ever since, just collecting dust. It used to bother me that she stuck stray pins or safety pins in it. As a teen, all I saw was how poorly crafted it was and felt guilty that I'd taken one of her doilies. Now my dresser has a couple of Mother's Day gifts collecting dust, and I know exactly why she kept it all these years. Maybe I should make something for Mom again. "I love you, Mom."
Melinda Walton lives in Saranac Lake.