I was incredibly intent the year I had to make a corsage for my mom out of tissue paper. While my fellow students curled the colorful paper around their pencil erasers then glued it to cardboard to resemble bright flowers, I felt the need to put order to chaos. The result was a smiling face that, in retrospect, bore a striking likeness to the Wal-Mart smiley face.
My mother never hesitated to wear the hideous yellow corsage. In fact, she wore it all day on Mother’s Day, even though it thoroughly clashed with her dress.
I was incredibly proud the year I played Mary Poppins in the Mother’s Day program. Families were required to provide the props, and because my frugal family didn’t have a normal umbrella, I twirled a hideous clear, plastic one shaped like a mushroom as I danced through boxes painted like chimneys. I resembled Mary Poppins about as much as I resembled Grace Kelly.
I was incredibly naive when I bought my mother a card that described Mother’s Day as a “gay” holiday.
I’m a lot older now, and I’m a lot less naive.
But I still don’t have a problem describing Mother’s Day as a gay holiday, especially this year.
That’s because, as I’ve aged, Mother’s Day has come to mean more than simply honoring and thanking my own mom. It’s also become a day to reflect on what being a good mother is.
While my experience is limited to 14 years, I’ve come to recognize three primary truths about being a parent:
1. A mother’s primary responsibility is to ensure that her children grow up to be responsible adults;
2. Every child is different, so there is no “right” way to be a parent;
3. Teaching our children to defend and stand up for those who are different is much more important than teaching them how to be popular or stylish.
This week, our President served as a parent to our entire nation when he publicly declared his support of gay marriage. I know the motivations behind his statements can be disputed, but I choose to believe that he was guided by his sense of morality and his need to set an example for all of us.
I heard his message loud and clear; if we tolerate hate and intolerance wrapped in religion then we are acting in direct opposition to the principles on which our country was established: a country in which all people are supposed to be treated equally.
So, while I seriously doubt my children will ever used their hard-earned allowance to buy a card that describes Mother’s Day as gay, I know that if they do, I would be honored to receive it. After all, it might be describing a holiday that looks beyond stereotypes and bias and unites us with a purpose of increasing tolerance for the next generation.
I can certainly hope.