Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers Gone Wild

The phone rings off the hook in our home today as it is Mother's Day. Mother's day wishes come pouring in for my wife and mom (happily for us my parents are staying with us at this time.) But neither my mom nor we have two dozen children. It is just that Mother's Day (and Father's Day) has gone beyond a time for kids to express appreciation for their parents to a time when everyone is expected to wish people close to them for being parents.

The campaign has probably exceeded all expectations of Hallmark, which is rumored to have started this day to boost their business and now has all sorts of cards for "third party" senders. Am I one of the few who thinks this has mutated to an over-generalized practice (isn't that what Christmas and New Year greetings are for?)

But at least I find this preferable to those automated birthday greetings via email. Here a general request goes from a sender to all people on the address list to enter their birthdays and contact particulars into a data card so that those people can get this "birthday" spam on their birthday and then be expected to individually thank the sender for her/his automated greetings. I consider filling up such requests as an invitation to dig your own grave so you can be shot and buried in such birthday spam. So if anyone who has sent such a request to me has been bothered that I haven't responded, please understand that I (and others like me) are equal opportunity decliners. Much as I may love and care for you I've never filled such a request.

Talking of this increase in the number of special days I was joking with someone who thinks as I do. We're wondering if it will be a good idea to have a Kid's Day so that we can all congratulate each other for having a mother and a father (till cloning makes this a less universal process.)

But back to Mother's and Father's Day. Can we take back the day and have it restricted to a special child-to-own-parent communication? Probably not as these ritualizations tend to have a momentum of their own. I just returned a call today to a business associate. After the initial hello's the first words out of my mouth were good wishes to his wife (whom I've met once) for Mother's Day...


Anonymous said...

I, too bemoan the long lines outside my favorite restaurant and Hallmark on Mothers' and Fathers' day. But I am grateful for what I am, and, am abiguous about what the future holds. Keats wrote a nice ode to the nightingale, we're going to have to reincarnate him to write an ode to "the test tube and petri dish."

You see, even though I wish I got along with my mom better, and I wished she bought me the things my other friends had, I know WHO I am. I have a background, a lineage and an identity. I can go back to my father and mother's original cities and trace my heritage.

It never ceases to amaze me how adopted kids go through such lengths to find their biological parents even though their adoptive ones have given them such care and shelter. As if to say,"Why did you give me up? Was I not good enough?" It never ceases to amaze me how much Oprah Winfrey went to find out her heritage back to the African continent.

You see, blacks of all the immigrants to America have had it the hardest because their very identities were torn away. Brought to a strange land on slave ships, their lineage has been lost forever. That is why they seem to want a new culture and beginning in America. I find it fascinating to look at the names on the rosters of football and basketball teams. The names have such creativity unlike the ones you find on stogy corporate boards. As if to say "We have our own identity."

You also find such pride from people who can trace their roots back to the Mayflower. I once sat on a bus in Italy with a guy who claimed he could trace his back to the Ceasars. I told him I could trace mine back to Lucy and that shut him up.

So mom and dad(wherever you are)I thank you for what ever you've given me. But most of all I thank you for who I am. People can critize the car I drive, or the clothes I wear, but who I am is always secure.


Sandip Madan said...

Beautiful thoughts, Kenrod - and you're a good son. I don't think you're disagreeing with my notion of Mother's and Father's Day being primarily something between the kids and their own parents. Instead of something where everyone feels obligated to call and congratulate everyone else who is a parent. :-)

Anonymous said...

Mothers' and Fathers' day should be celebrated all year between family members. Yelling "Happy's Mothers day" to the neighbors is so trite and really does dilute its meaning. I've even heard, "I know you don't have kids, but Happy Mom's day anyway."


Sandip Madan said...

Well said Kenrod - I agree!

kenrod said...

Returning to my identity issue that mothers and fathers impart on us, I find that those who are secure in that area never think about it. Those who don't have it yearn endlessly for it.

I knew this 8 year old boy whose mother was divorced. Every man she dated, the kid would ask him, "Can I call you 'dad'?" The answer was always the same. No just call me Pete or Joe.... But you could see the hurt in the boy.

Going from mother to motherland, my father didn't have a national identity for the longest time. Tossed around by warring factions, he had, for most of his life a simple "stateless" identity card but no passport. He didn't belong. He would constantly whisper in my ear, "One day I'm going to America and have a passport." The day he got it was one of the happiest in his life.

Now I understand how the Morroccans in France feel. Born in Gaul, eat croissants and pate, speak nasal, but they are not French. Same with the Koreans in Japan.

It is a funny thing about America. We come here from all corners of the earth, Serb and Croat, Arab and Jew, Indian and Pakistani.... We leave our tangled and warring past behind and establish a new identity. Germany is a country, and so is Jordon; but America is an idea.

I used to wonder why Americans refused to play the sports of other countries. While the Europeans and Asians played soccer, we played football with this oblong pigskin. While they played cricket we played baseball. But today I see it as a way of breaking away from the past. A way of saying, "We'll do things the new way." (But I see the refusal to adapt to the metric system as going too far. Come on America, this inches and feet stuff is too cumbersome. Join the rest of the world.) How do you see it Sandip?

Sandip Madan said...

Kenrod, as you've said it well, it's really great that the US is so accepting of multiculturism, and that is one reason for its dynamism and success.

About the shift from the FPS to the MKS system, again I agree that it is long overdue. In fact it is one of the few instances (the others including Evangelical bigotry or the fact that 48% of Americans believe in Creation) where Americans are more rooted in the archaic past than the so-called Old World...

kenrod said...

Sandip, I agree there's still a lot of bigotry. Abe Lincoln fought the war to free the slaves in 1865, and yet the Civil Rights Bill was passed by Johnson in 1965. 100 years to get equality?

And about half still believe in the literal creation? Didn't scientist prove we all came from Lucy. I think what makes Lucy hard to swallow was she came out of Africa.

Sandip Madan said...

Kenrod, may be it's not Africa, but the way Lucy and her million kin shake up a literal interpretation of the Bible and other religious books that bothers people.

Or (coming closer to the topic of this post) it may just be that we don't believe our mom (however distant) should look like a monkey. :-)