A letter to my mom for Mother’s Day

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Column: Tales from Exit 22

Dear Mom,

I was born in Minnesota.

Email newsletter signup

You knew that, of course.

But what you may not know is that I was born in Minnesota because I wanted to be close to you.

I wish I could talk to you in person this Mother’s Day but that’s impossible. I’m writing instead.

I remember other Mother’s Days. After you received all the good wishes, you went to the kitchen and did all the dishes.

That’s the way moms are. Mothers are unlike fathers. You never hear a mother saying, “The last thing I want to do is to hurt you, but it’s still on my list.”

If it weren’t for mothers, no one would be standing up straight. One of a mother’s many jobs is to remind children, “Stand up straight.”

Moms are the only ones who know where the Scotch tape is. Moms remind us to take a coat. Moms worry about others when they should be worrying about themselves and serve food to everyone else first.

Moms teach us that climbing is easier than hanging on. Moms understand what their children are not saying. Moms thumb-wrestle with us because they can’t find a reason not to.

Moms can keep a secret. What child grown to adulthood has not said something like this, “You don’t know this, Mom, but when I was a junior, I skipped school and went to a tattoo parlor. I was going to get a tattoo, but I chickened out at the last moment. But not before the tattoo artist had put a dot on my, well, you know.” A Mom replies with the date of the occurrence, who accompanied you, and the kind of car driven.

Moms teach us that it’s good to plan for things not to work out as planned. Moms tell us to face the other way when we sneeze even when we don’t know of another way. Moms see in us what we don’t see in ourselves.

Mom, I wanted things whenever I accompanied you into a store. I didn’t go with you because I enjoyed shopping. I’d reach into my pocket and be crushed when I discovered that what I’d thought was a quarter was only a nickel. I’d ask you to buy me something. You’d pretend to be hard of hearing before denying my incessant request.

“Why can’t I have that?” I asked.

“Because,” you’d answer.

“Why?” I was insistent.

“Only Because knows and he isn’t telling.”

I didn’t give up. I kept asking for the doodad I wanted. Mom, you put an end to my whining by saying, “We’ll see.” Two words that meant one—“no.” It kept hope alive and it stopped me from asking for anything else because I had a possibility. You taught me patience and I learned that waiting for something multiplies my joy when I get it.

You taught me that exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement. That Grandma wasn’t really 190 years old no matter what she told me and that I should stop asking her age. That a “crick” is what I get in my neck and is not a part of the Le Sueur River.

You taught me that stepping on mallard poop is not the way malaria is contracted no matter what a fellow Luther Leaguer told me. That there is no point in having a house that looks like nobody lives in it. To take all I could eat and to eat all that I take.

No one has ever told me that his or her mother made the worst sugar cookies. They all smile and say that their mothers made the best sugar cookies ever. The truth is, Mom, you made the world’s best. I loved your sugar cookies, even when you put those little sugar BBs on them that I scraped off with a knife.

You must have loved sugar cookies, too. You might even have tried to save some for yourself, but that last sugar cookie was always mine no matter what other plans you might have had for it. I was just polite enough to ask for the lone remaining cookie and you always said that you had saved it just for me.

You gave me life, Mom. I gave you some macaroni art I made in Bible school. You called us even.

Life compels us to jump, and being human obliges us to fall.

When we fall, as we all do, it’s nice to know that a mother is there offering a sugar cookie-baking hand to help us up.

Thank you for the cookies and the hand.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.