Last weekend I took a break from my new routine of running to work late, rushing home to help my wife care for our adult daughter with special needs, while also caring for my recently relocated mother. Mom has special needs, too: “Donuts on demand.” With all the special needs in the house, and helping professional’s cars in the driveway, I probably need a parking permit and group home license to get in my own front door.
For my treat, I saw Big Dawg Productions’ latest play, “Motherhood Out Loud,” at the Cape Fear Playhouse off Castle Street. I left with a question: “Are we willing to love everyone as a mother loves her child at birth, welcoming it with unpolluted awe, being grateful to share a few moments of the show with it?”
There are an infinite number of ways of dealing with that question, including not asking it or throwing Momma from the train. That love-filled moment is quickly shattered by the child’s needy cries for food and the mother’s fears that she will never be able to keep her child as safe outside her womb as it was within it.
I picked up a couple of donuts on the way home and thought about Mother’s Day cards a few folks, especially politicians, might write. I figure Paul Ryan’s a decent guy and loves his mother. He might write:
“Mom, I know you’re getting old and may even develop Alzheimer’s like your mother. I’d love to help you out, but it’s not in the budget. In the next few years, God willing, Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, veterans’ benefits, and any other socialist programs that drain the almighty economy will be dead. I hope you’re not dead, too. Did you see me break the world record in the Boston Marathon?”
Pat McCrory might write:
“Mom, because you love North Carolina as much as I do, I’m making it even friendlier for our corporate citizens every day—by cutting corporate taxes and teachers’ salaries, restricting a woman’s right to choose, making sure only the right people vote, and not enforcing environmental regulations. I’m making sure large corporations have lots of money. And kindness to large corporations is how I show how much I care about you, Mom. By the way, keep boiling the water for a few extra minutes before making sweet tea.”
Barack Obama might write:
“Thanks for getting me up at 4 a.m. to do homework. I know you’re disappointed that sexual assault is still a huge problem in the military and on campus in the 21st century, that the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and that women receive only 70 cents on the dollar for the same job as a man. I miss you, Mom.”
It’s not one party waging a “War on Women,” as much as it’s a question of how we all honor our mothers. We don’t even have to like our mothers, biological or otherwise. Mine makes Danny DeVito’s “Throw Momma” look like Mother of the Year sometimes. But how can anyone, male or female, turn a blind eye to sexual violence, glorify guns and violence, cut education and other programs that mostly help women and children, refuse to raise the minimum wage, pay women 70 cents for every dollar a man earns, steal mom’s retirement savings to play roulette in the Casino Capitalizmo, and say “Happy Mother’s Day!” sincerely? Does that shout Happy Mother’s Day to you? Or “Throw Momma from the Train”? I love the movie, but not as a policy statement.
When I got home, Mom was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a cleaver. “Where were you?” She looked frustrated and confused—her signature look as her memory fades. “I couldn’t find anything else. I didn’t lick the knife this time.”
“Marvelous.” I took the broadsword from her hand and helped her hobble to the bedroom.
“Will you watch the show with me?” she asked. “I’ve never seen it.”
I turned on the TV. “Throw Momma” wasn’t on. We watched, “Hello, Dolly,” again, for the very first time.
“How ‘bout next week we go to that ‘Motherhood’ show, Mom?” I said.
“Swell!” Mom grabbed a chocolate-frosted, smiled an unpolluted grateful smile, and started to sing along with a song she swore she never heard. “Things are swell, Dolly!”