Why Mother’s Day is every day
I don’t need to wait for my kids to grow up to see what they will contribute to the world
By Susan Konig
On Mother’s Day, I am sometimes given small gifts: paper flowers, toast and coffee in bed, a homemade card. Some years, I am sent out for a manicure so I can escape, for a short time, the very motherhood that is being celebrated. I go swiftly and willingly — life is busy with four kids!
Some would say that four is a lot of children. Once, 13 years ago, while pushing our first child in a stroller and very obviously expecting her baby brother, a woman passed by on the streets of New York. “Stop overpopulating the Earth!” she hissed and just kept going. If she thought two kids was too many, she should see me now!
When my husband and I had a radio show and talked on the air about how we have a lot of kids, we received calls from people chuckling about lightweights like us because they had truly big families. But like us, folks with seven or eight children (or more) heard comments from perfect strangers in public places about their choice to have such large broods.
Not that they or anyone should have to defend against such nonsense, but sometimes I want to say: “If people don’t have children, who will cure cancer, broker peace in the Middle East, bring joy and relief to the needy, and tolerate rude people like you?”
Then I realize that I don’t need to wait for my kids to grow up to see what they will contribute to the world. They are already doing so much.
A mere dozen years after that day in her stroller, our daughter and her 10th grade class are traveling to New Orleans on a weeklong service project to assist the residents of that wounded city in their ongoing rebuilding process.
I ask her, “How can you help someone build a house when you can’t even put your laundry away?” She gives me a withering look that says, “How could you possibly understand?” She’s a teenager, all right. I am still very proud of her.
Her 13-year-old brother, the one who was going to shift the population of our planet into overdrive (and he almost did, weighing over 12 pounds at birth!), offers to walk a dog on a regular basis for a neighbor struggling with cancer who doesn’t have the energy for the one-hour walks her dog loves. No one twisted his arm; he wants to help.
Our 10-year-old has befriended a schoolmate whose parents are in the midst of divorce. The time they spend together provides some normalcy to the child, whose home life is out of balance. The kids don’t talk about that. They just play. Our son is a steady friend who can be counted on.
He doesn’t know that he is doing service, helping his fellow planet-sharer. Nor does our 4-year-old when he makes older people in church smile with his enthusiastic handshakes of peace, followed by lying on kneelers and looking at the church upside-down.
I spend a lot of time correcting the kids, telling them to put their laundry away and walk our poor, long-suffering dog. And I don’t always acknowledge the big things they do as they grow and participate in life beyond our front door. But these four, they are my Mother’s Day gifts.
Just don’t mention that I said so or they’ll think they can get away with not helping with the chores.