Mother and child

Mother’s Day has just passed and I now have a new self-propelled, lightweight, battery-powered lawnmower in my shed in honour of being a mother.
I can’t wait to give it a go when the rain stops.
I look forward to not dragging and pushing the old Toro around, whose air filter fell off last year just in time for me to drive over it and watch the mower’s blades tear it apart and spit it out the side.
Oops. Good riddance, I say.
If my mother were alive, I would bring her a Crispy Crunch chocolate bar (her favourite) and maybe a honey-dip doughnut from the Electric Bakery in a white bag. If only.
I would brush her hair and run my brother’s Matchbox cars up and down her arms while she rested on the couch (though my mother called it a chesterfield and my friend’s mother called it a sofa).
I remember asking my mother what the difference was between a couch and a chesterfield and a sofa. Her answer was simply: it is all in the perspective. I wasn’t sure what that meant then but I do now.
I’ve had 38 years of Mother’s Day and none stand out more than another that I can think of. I loved little hands and feet climbing into bed with me every day, not just on Mother’s Day, their cold toes making me shriek.
I loved dandelion bouquets and freshly-caught frogs and collective pony rides, taking our lunch with us. I loved road trips where we sang every Disney song we could think of–a collaborative effort to remember all the lyrics.
All four of my daughters took turns with my fingers wandering through their long hair, tickling their scalp. It was their favourite thing, calming them after nightmares and heartbreaks, and was the healer of all woes.
The idea of celebrating Mother’s Day started as an anti-war expression by Julia Ward Howe in 1870. In the United States, Mother’s Day is credited to Anna Jarvis in 1908, as a memorial to her mother and for others to be reminded that a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”
Canada followed suit in 1909.
Jarvis was not in favour of the massive commercialization of her idea and vigorously fought such practices. She put a trademark on the phrases Second Sunday in May and Mother’s Day.
Despite her efforts, the National Geographic reported that Mother’s Day, 2017 would have generated $23 billion in the U.S. That’s a lot of cash for flowers and greeting cards.
I don’t think Anna would approve. She wanted children to remember their mother in a singular way, not all mothers across the land. Apparently, she died penniless in her fight against making money off her idea and lived the last years of her life in a sanitarium.
She never had children.
I’m with Anna Jarvis. I’m happy with my memories of little girls on my knee. I’m very grateful to have a new lawnmower, tremendously grateful, but the little fists filled with weeds and wildflowers meant just as much.
The phone calls when they need me, and the phone calls when they have happy news, and the daily texts and the glorious hugs when we are together make every day Mother’s Day.
wendistewart@live.ca

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