Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Invention of Mothers

Yes, another Mum's Day. And yet another year I didn't visit Zales, Jared or Kay. And no cheap bouquets from various indigenous urbanites under their tents, posies poised.

But in the spirit of May Daze, I celebrate many mothers, especially the strong ones. Names are withdrawn or sufficiently changed so as to avoid any panty-knotting.

I know of a sturdy mother who has lost a husband and four children. She soldiers on, with a terrific sense of humor, lightly lording over her other four hilarious children. When you think you have it tough ...

I admire Patty, who is a former galpal of mine from way back in the day. A single mom, she has raised two wonderful children into adulthood. She is a staunch, sometimes snarly, independent soul. But when she ran into trouble with a douchey boyfriend a few years back, she got on the blower to me and we hashed things out.

I know a woman who broke it off with me to marry another. A few years later, a mother by then, she came up to me and tried to apologize. I politely shut her up. It was one of the most noble acts of kindness I have ever received. I can't imagine the crust and guts it must have taken to approach me. Decades later, I still admire her.

Towser has been my consigliere, confidante, shoulder, rock and tear-dryer for forty years in my life. Also a single mum, she has two brilliant offspring who traipse around the world. She has walked me through too many life-changes (many of them cataclysmic) to enumerate. We talk occasionally. When we do, it's a long dialogue. Ma Bell would have made a mint off of us. I probably owe her a mint in consulting fees. In many ways, she is the smartest woman I have ever met. Check that, smartest person.

I have a small, clandestine group of married moms whom I call my harem. We chat from time to time and do the BookFace thing. They are funny, lovely, charming and can make my day in the tweetest of ways. And yes, I have chaste, totally respectable crushes on all of them. Only one has a jealous blob of a husband who has the personality of a doorstop. I especially think about my Scheherazades in my make-believe seraglio today. 1,001 times.

The strongest woman I have ever met? Easy. The mother of my children. The joy of becoming a father twenty-plus years ago was eclipsed only by the gumption, determination and grit of this woman. Two years later, she bore (get ready to groan, ladies) two 8-plus-pound babies in 27 minutes. With no cutting. And no complaining. She took the news of our son's autism with the same sturdy spine and has continued to provide for him in spectacular fashion. All while mounting a brilliant career path. Although we're apart, I can never thank her enough. And I shudder to think how an ordinary woman could have accomplished all this.

And, finally, must come Maga. Yes, I have written about Mom quite a few times. And could fill a volume with stories. She earned her wings early by bringing up my brother and me. After losing Dad suddenly when she was 54, she bounced back into a new life. Her mac salad and paprikash aside, how many mothers do you know who can get up (at the age of 71) onstage at her son's birthday/roast and deliver a KILLER half-hour of skewering, scathing, gut-busting material that had people gasping for breath, begging her to stop and begging for more?

To sum up Mom, I'll tell you this one. And I must quote her, unexpurgated. When I was 27, I was between gigs and visited her. She always kept a bedroom for me. Over breakfast, she asked me what was next on tap.

I said, "Mom, I think I'm going to move to L. A."

She took a delicate nip of toast and calmly said, "There isn't a fucking thing in the world you or your brother could ever do that would surprise me."

That was Maga.

God bless all you mothers. Everywhere.

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