My mother’s mother was in labor on Labor Day, an ironic coincidence if I’ve ever seen one. I never met my mother’s mother, but I hear she was a fascinating woman. It’s rare, of course, that my mother’s birthday actually falls on a Labor Day, since it’s one of those shifting holidays, but it’s still interesting to note. I remember trotting out the “in labor on Labor Day” joke nearly every time my mother’s birthday would come around, and everyone sighing because they’d all heard it one time too many. That, of course, didn’t matter to me, so I would regale them several more times with it until they stopped coming around. I’m sure that was one big coincidence too.
When I was little, the idea that my mother had her own actual birth day was incomprehensible to my puny brain. I didn’t even try to wrap my mind around it because to me it existed in the same realm as actors on my favorite television programs. I knew they were real people, but I still believed firmly in only the characters because they were the only ones I came in contact with. So, the idea was a far-fetched one because I only came in contact with my mother as my mother, not as somebody else’s child. It would take me a long time to reconcile that she could be both at the same time, and that there was a time when she only existed as a dream, and nothing before that.
Once I had made peace with my mother being born on a certain day I realized perhaps I should do something to commemorate the occasion. The problem was figuring out what I would do. I had no money of my own, and I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to ask my mother for money to buy her a gift, for whatever reason. So, I did what I felt was the next best thing; I went through the melange of items that lay haphazardly all around my bedroom, and I found the best thing I felt I owned, wrapped it in Christmas paper, and gave it to her. Luckily I was seven years old, and she thought my re-gifting of my broken camera was cute, or I would have been in serious trouble.
Later on, I got a lot more creative, and having some money from various odd jobs helped too. More recently I bought my mother an iPod for her birthday, a rather thoughtful gift that got me a free $15 Target gift card for being that thoughtful. She was so touched that she almost cried… before making me hook it up and get her signed into iTunes so she could get some music to fill it. But somewhere between the broken camera and the iPod, I learned the true value that my mother placed on her birthday. It had absolutely nothing to do with getting those material things. It was about the thought, that we, her children, cared to honor her entry into this world. And that’s amazing for me to think about.
Now, as we once again approach the anniversary of my mother’s birth, I want to pay her homage for being a wonderful mother, a good friend, and the best Labor Day present ever. Happy birthday, Mom! (in a few days, when it actually is your birthday. Read this then. Thanks).