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Paying Mom Back

Kim Peckham

Just a reminder that Mother's Day will soon be upon us; a day when we honor mothers for making their biggest contribution to society--ourselves.

The idea is that if someone is responsible for your existence on the planet, the least you can do is buy them a card.

Moms never seem bothered by the inequity between what they give (life) and what they get (14 lines of Helen Steiner Rice, and if they're lucky, burnt toast in bed). If mothers ever started pushing for a better return on their investment, we'd be in trouble: "You know, dear, you weren't able to feed yourself for 10 months after you were born. Could you watch my cats for a couple weeks?"

My point is: moms don't ask for much. All they want is for you to keep your room clean, dress nicely for church, and graduate from medical school.

If you haven't done these things already, you might want to consider them as a way to make this Mother's Day more special.

Here are some other ideas:

Serve Her Breakfast in Bed: Perhaps the best thing about keeping Mom in bed is that she can't see what you're doing to her kitchen. Anyway, it's a nice gesture.

Reduce Her Guilt: Mothers often fear that they made mistakes in raising their children that warped them for life. You would do your mother a great favor if you convinced her that you are warped for reasons completely beyond her control. For example, I tell my mom to consider all those spills I took on my bicycle before the popularity of helmets. You can also blame all the Play-Doh you ate or the time you stumbled on a copy of Foxe's Book of Martyrs at age 9.

Bury the Pain of the Past: Many of us were raised during the golden age of corporeal punishment. Teachers drilled holes in long wooden paddles to reduce wind resistance and gave them pet names like "The Board of Education."

On the home front moms found 100 creative ways to follow Solomon's advice--reaching for fly swatters, flip-flops, the Ladies' Home Journal, and whatever else fell to hand to make sure we wouldn't be spoiled. My workmate Cassandra says that her mother used a wooden spoon on her bottom so consistently that she didn't even know it was for cooking.

These days the controversy over spanking is pricking the conscience of some mothers, so it is very important to say with a perfectly straight face that you appreciate the fact that she loved you enough to wack the stuffing out of you. Tell her that spankings taught you the difference between right and wrong. They also taught you never to buy those paddleball toys, because they can come back to haunt you.

Let Your Mother Think You've Amounted to Something: It's very important to mothers that those umpteen hours of agony in the delivery room will come to good, and not evil. So Mother's Day is a good time to remind them of our successes and achievements of the past year.

For example, show Mom the personalized letter you received from Ed McMahon. Casually mention that you've qualified for a gold MasterCard. And if you were elected to the United States Senate, don't be embarrassed. Tell her about that, too. The funny thing about a mother's love is that she will rejoice with you in even your smallest victories.

Which, I suppose, is God's attitude. He rejoices at even our smallest accomplishments in the Christian life. He wants us to succeed.

But there's no reason to get a big head and think we can even the score. It's like Mother's Day. There are some little things we can do to show our appreciation, but in the end we're still the indebted and grateful child.

Kim Peckham is an advertising copywriter. He lives with his editor wife, Lori, in Falling Waters, West Virginia. He owes his mother a blanket apology for ages 12 to 17.



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