Saturday, May 9, 2020

If you can't say something nice... #WindowOvertheSink

I don’t really mind the social distancing of these strange days. I don’t mind wearing a mask when I’m going to be among others. My hair and my nails…well, they don’t look very good, and I’ll be glad to see Denee and Julie again, but they don’t actually bother me, either. I can wait until the end of the getting back to business line because no one I know bases their opinion of me on my hair and nails. Or, if they do, they probably aren’t people I need in my life. I am—sigh—of a certain age, and caution just makes sense to me. It’s not—let me say that again, NOT—the same as fear.

We haven’t run out of toilet paper. I haven’t even fought with anyone in the personal-needs aisle of a grocery store over the last four-pack, although one day I did indeed buy the last four-pack. I’m growing used to using whatever brand of facial tissue I can find, because the spots where Kleenex and Puffs live are always empty. I miss them, the Puffs and Kleenex and the Charmin toilet paper, but I miss having smooth skin, too, and I’ve learned to be perfectly happy without it.

Like that skin, I kind of doubt that life as we knew it will ever return completely. Just as every other catastrophe has affected us, so will this one. I don’t know, sadly enough, if we will learn from it or not. We aren’t even able to get the basics down. Love your neighbor. Do no harm. Tell the truth. Live and let live.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I’m going to slip something right in here that I wrote for a blog post somewhere else. You won’t even see the seams—promise!

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” – Tina Fey

I’ve never been able to settle Mother’s Day down into that one Sunday of the year. Make no mistake, I like hearing from my kids on the actual day. If I’ve heard from all of them by day’s end, it makes the sunset of that day all the better and brighter and…I don’t know, calmer. (Which is decidedly odd, because I don’t recall ever having a calm day while they were growing up.)

The truth of the matter, though, is that most of my Mother’s Days haven’t been on the second Sunday in May. No, it’s been more like this.

Y  The days they were born. I don’t need to explain that one, do I?
Y  The days they graduated.
Y  The evenings they sat on the porch with me and watched sunsets.
Y  The mornings my sons crawled out of bed and helped me get my car unstuck from the snow so that I could go to work.
Y  The day after my mother’s passing when I told my mother-in-law that I no longer had anyone who would love me no matter what. And my mother-in-law said, “You still have me.”
Y  The day my daughter, daughters-in-law, granddaughters, and I lay on a bed in a vacation rental and laughed and talked.
Y  The days lately when my daughter has gone to the grocery store for me because, as her brother says, her dad and I are in the “high risk” group.
Y  The blissful days that have made me a grandmother seven times.
Y  Every day. Every day you’re a mom, no matter who it’s to—giving birth doesn’t have a lot to do with it—you have somebody to love who loves you back. Even on the days you don’t like each other.

I’ve reached the time when I am the matriarch (although I’m not at all crazy about that word) on our particular branch of the family tree. I still miss my mom and mother-in-law, but am so glad that I had them. They were glad to have had me, too, and that’s a nice thing to know.

Not every second Sunday in May has been a happy day, just as every day as a mother hasn’t been a happy one—I had three teenagers at one time; of course they weren’t all good days! But when I look back and count up my fortunately few regrets, being a mom is never on the list.

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day. All of them.

There, didn’t see a thing, did you? My life is so much better with cut-and-paste in it! I’ve thought so much about my mom lately. I cut lilacs at the farm where I grew up—they were always her favorites. And mine. I’ve thought of my mother-in-law and how much I miss her. I’m so grateful to have had them both.

And my mind keeps going back to those basics. Love your neighbor. Do no harm. Tell the truth. Live and let live. And another one, said by Thumper’s mom, If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. These are things all mothers—including rabbit ones, apparently—have been saying all along. They’re as right now as they ever were.

As we go through this time and come out on the other side of it, we need to remember those things. We need to relearn how to listen, how to embrace and mean it, and how not to do harm. We can do without Charmin, Kleenex, Puffs, and smooth skin--we can't do without kindness and all that goes with it.

Have a great week. Be safe. Be nice to somebody.


  1. Wonderful column miss my mother so much but I know being a mom is the best thing I ever did. Great pictures of the moms I remember Duane's but had not met your mom. I'm sure both very proud of you. Happen Mothers Day

  2. Yes! To everything in this column, yes! Kindness matters, and Mother's Day happens all the time.

  3. This is beautiful and well said. Thank you.

  4. So lovely, Liz! Happy Mother's Day.