Well, I have gone on thinking about why I and so many other women I know have spent our married lives buying cards, flowers and other presents for our mothers in law. Despite all the talks we have with our husbands about equal sharing in the marriage, and rational-sounding statements while dating about equal rights for women, guys really are BAD about getting mother's day gifts (and Christmas, and birthday, and Hanukkah, and whatever other gifts) for their mothers. (And their fathers, too, I guess)
Little boys seem to have a special relationship to their moms. So often, it's a really close, really sweet connection. My son was not your average little boy. He is on the Asperger's spectrum. When he was little, this was not a well-known syndrome, and nobody could talk to me about my son, but he was different. But we still had this real close relationship. When he was really little, if he fell asleep, it was as if he had a chain and could pull me down into sleep with him. And he had a Mom alarm, and knew (KNEW!) if I left the room or the house. He would wake from a sound sleep immediately and begin crying. There were months and months between birth and about 14 or 15 months old when nobody else could hold him without tears and screams. That is not exactly closeness - it's dependency, I guess. But it was the foundation for a very, and continuing close relationship later on.
So how come, this Mother's Day, and all the Mother's Days since he was too old for school to involve making a gift, it's my daughter that gives me a gift or card? We are close, too.... which I treasure. But I think I need to stop giving him a pass on this. And maybe we all need to not give passes to the guys. I had a long conversation with my husband (who also fails the Mother's Day gift or card test -- both for his now-deceased mother and for me) about this. He says, it seems so false and forced. He detests being forced into giving a gift or card on time because the calendar says it's time. OK, I say, but you need to do a gift or card at some other time -- we need to pick a time.
But also, everything feels forced and false when you start doing it. Being a grown up, driving a card, buying alcohol -- it all seems forced and false when you start. You just keep faking it 'til it seems OK and real and second nature. And birthdays are non-negotiable and so are anniversaries. It does not have to be expensive. It can be a piece of paper with a heart drawn on it -- even shaky & uneven. It can be flowers from the supermarket or the yard. (BUT not the neighbor's yard!) It can be an origami bird -- my son folds origami very beautifully. Or a computer card. It can be going to a movie we both like or a baseball game, or a bottle of wine, (but not a six pack of beer!).
So, when my son comes back to town from the visit he's been having with a bunch of friends -- he left on Mother's Day (hmmf), he is in for a talking to. Part of my thinking on this is getting things ready for if he ever meets an interesting girl. The way he can get ready for how to court a girl is doing thoughtful little things for the people at home. It's all practice anyway, isn't it? But I think if we Moms don't talk to our sons about taking some responsibility, we cannot expect any change in the future. Who else is going to do it?