Mom(s)

We owe them!

Or, if you’re reading this and you are one…they owe you!

(Never liked that we-they stuff.)

And today, Mothers Day, is the day we show it.

Now special days are a dime a dozen. Every day of the year is spoken for – many times over! It’s a crowded field.

Take May. In May alone, we’ve already worked through May Day, Loyalty Day, Mother Goose Day, and Save the Rhino Day (May 1); Baby Day, Brothers and Sisters Day (May 2); Lumpy Rug Day (I am not making this up), National Teachers Day, and World Press Freedom Day (May 3); Bird Day, National Candied Orange Peel Day, and Renewal Day (May 4); Cinco de Mayo, National Hoagie Day, and Oyster Day (May 5); Beverage Day, International Tuba Day, Military Spouses Day, National Tourist Appreciation Day, National Nurses Day, No Diet Day, and Space Day (May 6); Astronomy Day, Birth Mothers Day, and National Tourism Day (May 7). And Mothers Day itself shares the field – with Iris Day, No Socks Day, V-E Day, and World Red Cross Day/World Red Crescent Day.

[Looking ahead? Tomorrow is National Train Day and Lost Sock Memorial Day. Did I stress I was not making this up?]

Whew!

But Mothers Day trumps them all, doesn’t it? Florists know this. This one weekend makes or breaks their entire business year. No holiday shopping season for them. This is it. AT&T knows this. Back in the day, before cellphones, when all we had were landlines (didn’t realize there was such a time? Ask Mom), Mothers Day was the busiest long-distance-calling day of the year. You needed to call Mom early in the day. Otherwise all you got was a recorded message “All our lines are busy now. Please try your call again later.” Sometimes you wouldn’t even get a dial tone. Children in the western time zones, trying to call Mom back on the east coast, but getting up late? Toast. Remember that brother of mine I’ve told you about? The statistician/operations research type who worked at Bell Labs? And that queuing theory? This day was the Mother of all their problems. Too few landlines, and money would be left on the table. Too many? Idle capacity throughout the other 364 days of the year.

Today, with cell phones, so much extra energy is being consumed making Mothers Day calls – so much microwave energy fills the air – that in urbanized areas hot dogs are spontaneously cooking in the middle of busy intersections. Some have exploded and burst into flame. [Ok. So I am making that up.]

Even given all that, why is Mothers Day the subject for a blog focusing on Living on the Real World – the world as a resource, a victim, and a threat?

Alert readers have undoubtedly figured out that part of this is obeisance – a shameless effort to curry favor with my own mother, who, at age 90, is a regular reader (and maybe the only one). Maybe (gasp!) there were no flowers. Maybe I’m concerned about the quality of the card, and the sentiments on it. Perhaps I harbor doubts about getting that call through later today. [And then there are those other mothers in my life… my wife, my daughter, my daughter-in-law, to start. My mother-in-law and my stepmother-in-law. My four sisters-in-law. Amazing women…always out there for their children and step-children. Beautiful, loving, special people, who deserve recognition and thanks. And who might read this post. These thanks are for them.]

It can work for you! Instead of an e-card, send your mother the link, and tell her – this post speaks for me, Mom! I love you. We all do!

But there is a more serious bit. Relationships are reciprocal. As a result, from the real world’s point of view, seven billion people also constitute a resource, a victim, and a threat.

And the blend of those three attributes? Whether our relationship with the real world is all take and no give, whether we’re sensitive to the need to protect the environment and ecosystems, the landscapes, and the biodiversity, whether we build resilient communities that can withstand natural extremes? That depends a lot on values we learned from Mom (and Dad, but that’s for another day).

Did Mom demand that we turn out the lights when we leave the room? Did she acquaint us with the recycle bin (are you old enough? Then Mom didn’t make that connection; recycle bins are a recent development…in part because in communities all across the land, mothers got together and pushed the needed recycling measures through). When you were growing up, did she ask the questions about the safety of your house when the hurricane comes, or where the house is relative to the earthquake hazard or the floodplain? Did she stress to us kids the importance of working cooperatively to solve problems, seeking to balance that competitiveness and striving that’s so much a part of our nature)?

The real world has its problems, but they’d be worse without Mom.

That real world? She’s Mother Earth, and she approved this message.

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