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Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Paper
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Mama Madison: It's your day, Mom
Even the unsung can bask every once in a while

I've always had a hard time fully enjoying Mother's Day. Store bought cards can only bring so much delight, especially when you know they were purchased under duress. It doesn't take a genius (or frankly, even a Mom) to know what "top secret" errand my frazzled husband and uninspired kids are running off to right around dinner (or some other equally inopportune time) each and every Mother's Day Eve. And it's even harder to believe the sentiment is heartfelt when your child signs that 99-cent card with both his first and last name. Yes, ever since my 14-year-old was old enough to write, Mother's Day cards from him have always seemed more like the Declaration of Independence than expressions of gratitude.

Other popular Mother's Day traditions have never really cut it for me either. I'm not much one for flowers. A bouquet just reeks of "I'm sorry"--or even worse, prom. And I've been to a spa only once. As far as I could tell the place, while beautiful, was little more than an excuse to run around in public in a robe. I do love jewelry, though. But call me a snob. I am partial to gemstones, sterling and things stamped with the karat mark. No, I haven't thrown out the pins made of macaroni or necklaces of strung Cheerios my kids have given me for Mother's Days past; they are in a box somewhere. But I'd be lying if I said I've actually worn them out in public.

Now please don't take any of this to mean that I am not a fan of Mother's Day. There are certainly things about the holiday to admire. For instance, I love that its historical roots are in politics and pacifism. Julia Ward Howe, better known for penning the Civil War anthem "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" issued a Mother's Day proclamation in 1870 urging womankind to collectively raise their voices in hopes of ending useless war. And in this year of continued manufactured political battles over the merits of "stay at home" vs. "working" moms, it's nice to have a day of maternal solidarity to remember, that in the end, the operative word is mom.

So yes, I will celebrate Mother's Day. But instead of getting too wrapped up in brunch, cards or where I put the vase from last year's flowers, I'll spend my few minutes alone, while my husband and kids are out card shopping, thinking about the gifts they've already given me. Like the time"the only time, mind you---last week when they unpacked the dishwasher without fighting over whose turn it was to empty the top rack. Or the fact that my oldest just attended his first high school party and seemed to have listened to my lectures about expected behavior. I'll remember that my youngest is a good friend to the elderly neighbors next door and that my middle son is willing to help his sister with fourth grade math. Perhaps someday I will remember the formulas for area and perimeter.

And mostly, I'll reflect on the fact that they seem to be turning out ok, despite all my parental shortcomings. Yes, my daughter has finally forgiven me for never having worn that toothpick broach out to dinner. So perhaps it's me who needs to say thanks this Sunday"not for the flowers, but for the joy of getting to be their mom.

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