Mother's Day is almost here, which means the greeting card industry is about to receive a cash infusion that would dwarf the entire economy of Lichtenstein.
The holiday that has been set aside to honor our immediate maternal ancestors is fraught with peril for guys who, like me, are married with children. There is no doubt that every living human being should purchase a gift and/or a card for their mother, the person who gave you life in a process that - let's face it - isn't much different than when the creature emerges from the crewman's abdomen in the movie Alien.
While giving your mother a greeting card is acceptable, doing something nice for dear old mom would be an even better way to celebrate Mother's Day. This could involve a small, yet thoughtful, gesture, such as taking her out for a restaurant meal, or perhaps going over to her house and changing the light bulb in the hallway and then hanging out with her while she cooks a nice meal for you. Just remember, it's the thought that counts.
So, the honor thy mother part of Mother's Day is a no-brainer. The area where a guy can stumble is when he is married to the mother of his children.
When our two sons were just little tykes, I made sure my wife received a Mother's Day card from them every year. The boys were illiterate at the time, plus they lacked the financial means to purchase a card. Did their inability to read and write have anything to do with their woeful monetary situation? I think we all know the answer to that.
The boys eventually entered grade school and acquired the ability to hand-craft endearingly slipshod Mother's Day cards for their mom. At that point, I assumed that my obligation for giving my wife a card on Mother's Day had ended.
I have no defense for this other than to say I was young and stupid. Much has changed since then. For one thing, I am older now.
I can clearly recall the Mother's Day when I didn't give my wife a card. The boys and I had taken her out for a meal at a classy eatery - they wanted to treat her like royalty, so we went to Burger King - and our sons had given her their homespun conglomerations of construction paper and glitter.
"Don't you have anything for me?" my wife asked after we had tucked our sons in for the night.
"Such as?"
"I don't know. A card or something would be nice."
"It's Mother's Day. You aren't my mother."
You know how a person can be 100 percent right from a legal point of view, yet at the same time be totally wrong in the moral sense? My words were a prime example of this paradox.
My wife didn't say anything, but the look of disappointment on her face would have caused a stone to shed hot tears of shame. Her dismay hit me like an anvil dropped from the belly of a B-52 Stratofortress. It caused me to think, which is an enterprise that's often fraught with hazard. Even so, I managed to glean a few useful insights.
The first thing that came to mind was that insane process of hosting an alien being in your abdomen for nine months and then pushing it out. My wife hadn't gone through all of that for herself; she had walked across the searing coals of childbirth for our sons and for me.
I recalled the jillions of things, large and small, my wife has done for our family. How clothes seem to magically wash themselves and appear in dresser drawers. How she would bring snacks out for us when we were busy with field work and how she was an uncomplaining go-fer, be it a parts run to the farm implement dealer or helping me deliver a baby calf in the midst of a muddy cow yard. How it seemed like she was always the one who played the role of responsible parent by attending parent-teacher conferences.
Another insight: a mother will automatically feel affection for her offspring. A spouse loves you because he or she chooses to.
My mom and dad did a tremendous job of raising me. I know this to be true because my upbringing bestowed upon me the wisdom to marry my wife.
Mother's Day is almost here, which means that I, like many guys, will be purchasing a couple of cards and doing something nice for a couple of special ladies.
I just hope there are some light bulbs somewhere that need to be changed.
Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry's great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.