This is a very special day. It’s a day set aside to honor the one person without whom we would not exist. It’s Mother’s Day. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at how we say thank you. Thank you seems so vapid in the cold light of day of what they did for us. Forget what they do before we get here, let’s talk about what they go through just getting us here. Normally at this point I would ask the male part of the audience to leave the room cause this is about to be girl talk. But this time, I want you to do the opposite. Right now men everywhere are giving me a horrid look and stuffing fingers in their ears. And yet I continue, with a huge smile on my face.
In my case my mother tells me she threw up for nine months with my brother and was nauseous for nine months with me. She remembers being beyond tired before she had me. Then finally on the big day she had a burst of energy. She cleaned the entire house, made a huge dinner and as soon as she sat down to eat she went into labor. Several hours later, the joy of her life arrived. Me.
Later I was as big as a house myself and what should come as a surprise to no one who really knows me I slept through the first few hours of labor with my daughter. I woke, scaring my grandmother to death just about. After a frantic drive from Goochland to Charlottesville and arriving at UVa hospital I was asked rather unceremoniously by a nurse, who was handing me a phone, to tell them why I was there. My answer to her is not something I can say on the radio. Let’s just say I was less than congenial and then she wheeled me into the room where the joy of my life arrived, and only after one push and less than seven hours later.
Then there comes the breastfeeding and diaper changing, the skinned knees, and the first rock or handful of sand eaten. There’s bath time and story time, there’s the first day of school, the first day of high school and then the first day of college, and then if we’re lucky the last day of college. There’s helping them find that first apartment and that first job. There’s helping them pick hopefully the only wedding dress and plan what people will eat and dance to at the reception. And before you know it, you get that call that your baby is going to have a baby.
It’s a vicious circle people. A circle that we all go through, maybe not in the same order, but we all go through it. And it’s good to have a day where we can say thank you to the woman who helped us get there.
Once again, in my case, I can’t say thank you enough to the wonderful woman I get to call my mother. She’s made me laugh when I was crying, she’s pushed me when I needed it and comforted me when I thought I couldn’t go on. My mother had two children, went to college while we were little, she has served on the Virginia Commonwealth Community College Association as President, the Vice Chair of the Newport News Democratic Party, the Virginia Library Association, National Council of Negro Women, Black Women United for Action, and the Rotary Club. She’s playing piano, she’s learned to quilt and she still takes time to help me make the occasional dress or evening gown for me. She is my best friend. We talk every day. She’s the first person I want to call when something happens and she’s the only person who has and will continue to love me unconditionally. And that’s the same kind of mother I want to be for my daughter. Maybe a bit stranger, but the same.
Strangely enough my daughter and I are already freakishly linked. So we’re well on our way. So everybody give a big hug, a big kiss, or take a moment and remember mother. You only get one as Harvey Fierstein tells us.