The second Sunday in May, the official pedestal day for mothers, is upon us. While some mothers may be content to pose upon a pedestal -- like a ballet dancer -- most find it an awkward position.
The pedestal is confining. Physically, it demands a perch position. While this may be a natural for the American eagle, Mother Nature never intended it for the American Mom.
In addition to the mechanical problems of climbing up, balancing, and gracefully descending, there are other drawbacks, too. To bask in the limelight, if even for a day, carries weighty responsibilities. Those who endure daily adulation, such as movie stars and kings, can attest to this.
Occupying a pedestal right next to the one for baseball and apple pie, requires that Mom be on her best behavior; that for the day, at least, she embody the virtues of motherhood -- the whole lot of them -- love, gentleness, warmth, understanding, patience, wisdom, etc. She may feel as weighted down with virtue as a knight with armor.
And, even if by nightfall she's feeling as beastly as a behemoth, the pedestal position requires she remain as gentle as a she-moth. That is the price honor exacts.
To make her well-earned day upon the pedestal more enjoyable, here are a few tips for Mom:
Rise early. Fix yourself your favorite breakfast and enjoy a few moments of serenity. It will be short-lived. Later, if the children do insist on bringing you breakfast in bed, strongly hint that your all-time favorite is dry cereral and milk. That way the kitchen will not be a maze of pans and dishes that have not seen daylight since your wedding day.
Should your husband and children announce in unison that you have the day off, thank them, but proceed as usual. Remember, you and the men of the cloth have the same day off -- Monday -- when they're all back at school or work.
Brace yourself for the unexpected, like the gifts. View each as a token of love and wax ecstatic -- even if it's freshly picked mustard weeds that aggravate your hay fever. If the pollen brings tears, don't hold back. A little sentiment is appropriate to the occasion.
No doubt, one of the children will give you a handy homemade trinket. Suppress the urge to ask what it's for. In time your child may drop a clue, to wit: "Why are you hanging my mud ashtray on the bathroom wall?"
Now, if your husband also remembers you on Mother's Day, bear in mind the saying about a gift horse and its mouth. If you unwrap a bacon or hamburger cooker, wait until Monday to indulge in analysis of your image as a femme fatale.
A few words about those Mother's Day Cars: Save them! The original one your daughter made herself (albeit a slight variation of 39 other pressed flower cards produced by the third grade) deserves a prominent spot on the kitchen wall. The words inside, written in big, loving letters, make it worthly of a home in your scrapbook. One day when she is 15 (and less given to singing your praises) the sight of that card could be a real ego booster.
If faced with a gastronomic choice -- the children fixing dinner or going out to eat -- do not hesitate. Graciously thank them, then dash for your purse and coat. (Delight over an underdone baked potato or doughy cake is hard to fake.)
Ironically, the founder of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, a maiden schoolteacher from West Virginia (whose portrait hangs in her alma mater, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Va.) never had to cope with the good intentions of husband and children. She couldn't have known that the national holiday she crusaded for would one day demand from mothers the composure of Whistler's mother and the laughter of Phyllis Diller.
Yes, your day upon the pedestal is almost here. Your husband and children are out to do you honor, entertaining as they do the notion that you are the world's best mother.
So, awkward as the pedestal may be, enjoy it. But stay on your toes.