Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ask Not What Your Mother Can Do For You . . .

ask what you can do for your mother.

Yesterday morning, my son had a flag football game. We had to arrive an hour and 45 minutes early for practice and individual and team photos. I stood with the other mothers filling out forms and choosing portrait packages. All of the usual banter was going on . . . Do we put our son's photo on trading cards? Did you know they can put the photos on a fake magazine cover? I was lamenting the fact that my son had, that very morning, fallen at the park and scraped up the front of his nose. This is usually something that happens every portrait day. Another mother told me to have his photos retouched, but I said I wanted to "keep it real". Truth is, I probably wouldn't recognize my son with every scrape and bruise retouched.

We watched the boys line up and get their individual photos taken. My son knelt on one knee, football helmet in front of him, holding a football and smiling his gap-toothed smile with a big scrape on his nose. Classic. This moment would be forever preserved in time.

After individual photos, the boys had to wait around to have their team photo taken. I was supervising my son, and standing where I could see the other players have their individual photos taken. There is a set of identical twin boys on my son's team. Their Mom always looks frazzled. I can't imagine having twin seven-year-old boys. The twins' Mom was watching her boys have their photos taken. When the second twin was posing, I heard the Mom mumble something about his shoelace being untied. She yelled out to her son to tie it, but he didn't hear her. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Mom dive onto the ground to tie the laces on her son's cleats just as the photographer snapped the photo. We all stood for a moment not quite believing that she did that. The photographer admonished her for ruining the photo, and she got up, brushed the dirt and grass off herself and muttered, "I didn't want the laces untied in the picture." One of the other mothers took her by the arm, and the rest of us gathered around her and showed our support. Poor thing. If I ever had any perfectionist tendencies, I gave them up years ago. It's just easier.

There are times in every mother's life when she wants to throw up her hands and give up. Preoccupied husbands, ungrateful kids, unending mind-numbing tasks . . . they take their toll. And in the end, whether they remember it or not, children have their mothers to thank for standing in endless lines to sign them up for swim/dance/sports/music lessons, driving them to all their activities, making sure they have everything they need for said activities, and giving them encouragement the whole time. And what do we get in return? Well-rounded, intelligent, confident, talented children, of course. And, if we're lucky and strive to make it happen, perfect photos will adorn the walls of our rooms in a nursing home one day. Photos of our children with every hair in place and every shoelace tied. Or not. I prefer to remember the missing teeth, the scrapes and scratches and hair that sticks up in the back. These imperfect days are precious and fleeting.

Here's a video for the twins' Mom and any mother who has at one time or another felt overwhelmed and wanted to throw up her hands and walk away from it all. If I could choose one person whose voice I would like to have, it would be Adele. There is something about this video that I love. She looks like a school girl, and then she sings effortlessly and beautifully with this incredible voice. Her mother must be very proud.


  1. In Our Town, Emily returns to the day of her 12th birthday and notices all the little things that are important now. Your not worrying about perfection keeps your eyes and heart on those little things that are important too. You are so cool!

  2. I wish my kids thought I was cool! I keep hoping that they won't remember that I couldn't grow a houseplant or keep an immaculate house, but I always took the time to bake them cookies and go biking with them. It truly is the little things in life that count.