In my infertility pain, I was somewhat startled to learn from my contemporaries who already were mothers that Mother’s Day wasn’t necessarily a favorite day for them, either. For some, the attention made them uncomfortable in their insecurity that they didn’t think they were as good at mothering as they thought they should or could be. Others felt guilty that they thought this mothering business isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. More and more, I heard variations of what I’d call my mother’s philosophy, which is “every day should be Mother’s Day,” meaning “I just want you to be good and happy.” My mother generally expressed this as “mind me and get good grades.”
Then there’s the whole present/”do something for Mom” thing. Wash the car? Who were we kidding that we could wash the car as well as the 25-cent car wash? Egg shells in the scrambled eggs? Then there was the Mother’s Day in the Downey house when I fell off the kitchen counter reaching up to a high shelf, crashing to the floor with her second-best plates slipping from my hands. In true mother response, she was only concerned that I wasn’t hurt as I cried, mortified, amid the broken plates. I think the next year, my dad made a preemptive suggestion that we get doughnuts, which was popular with us, if not Mom.
For my first Mother’s Day after Akemi was born, Weeder left a large floral arrangement by our side door, with the note “’Cuz it’s your first.” During Akemi’s early Colburn years, her big orchestra concert always was scheduled on Mother’s Day. We’d dress for church and make an appearance at Sacrament meeting in Pasadena, change and drive an hour out to Anaheim for lunch with my parents, change back into dressier clothes and put Akemi in her concert dress, and drive another hour to LA, breathless and stressed to make her call time. Did we remember the extension cord for the video camera? Did we put her music in her case? Of course I loved every occasion to hear her play, but that was really crazy, and I can assure you that none of the other orchestra moms liked spending Mother’s Day that way any more than I did.
This Mother’s Day I’m remembering her second solo recital when she was 11. It was July 14, 2001 – not Mother’s Day at all – but I’m thinking of it as a most favorite mother’s memory, because it was her first recital at Colburn, I got to play with her, and it turned out to be the only occasion when all four of her grandparents and her dad were together to hear her play. Her dress was hand-painted French silk, a present from my mother, and she’s carrying flowers sent or given to her from Leigh, Linda, Janice, and other women who have been generous and important to her in her life.
Fortunately for me, when you have a daughter as hard-working and talented as Akemi with her head on her shoulders, I have a precious bank of mother’s memories of special and celebratory times, with the promise of many more to come. Whenever I am congratulated on having been such a good mother to have raised such a wonderful daughter, really I demur – she makes me look good. When Akemi was young, the Parkins gave us a book Mr. and Mrs. Smith Have Only One Child, But What a Child! If you only get one, she’s been the one to have, and that is certainly gift abundant. She’s texted and we will “celebrate” in a few days when she comes home for a visit from Boston.
Now for my mother this Mother’s Day, I am quite proud of what I’ve gotten her. She has always loved wisteria, a very Japanese thing – the first kanzashi she gave me for my hair featured wisteria blossoms. For years, she has admired the wisteria that Bing planted to trail across the front of the garage, combined with complaining that she always wanted my dad to plant her one, and he never did. I hesitated from getting her one, because she’d have to have a trellis or some kind of structure built for it.
Then a couple of months ago, we were at a Japanese restaurant with her which had a wisteria plant trellised in a pot, large enough to get the effect but small enough to be contained. More admiring/complaining, but now I had the idea. So I am about to pack a five-foot trellised wisteria plant into my car, with a large (plastic) pot, and a large bag of potting soil. I’ll assemble it at her house, and then drive over to my brother John’s with her for the afternoon with the local-area grandkids. She knows about it and is excited about it; it’s nice to make her happy with a tangible present outside of the “get good grades” category.