What Children Need A Mother's Day Story by Nicholas
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On the morning of Mother's Day, Grace ran out
to the Rite Aid and bought her mother a cheap, heart-shaped box of
chocolates and a 99-cent card.
That was all she could afford, having blown
the rest of her week's paycheck and tips on booze the night
Naturally, Grace's mother was delighted to be
remembered. She gave her daughter a big hug and kiss and told her how
proud and happy she was to have her as a daughter.
As usual, Grace smiled and crawled into a
little hole somewhere inside her heart.
The rest of Mother's Day was, as far as Grace
was concerned, just as much a charade. Grace's father got her mother the
perennial perfume and roses, at which her mother pretended to be
delighted, and then they went out with about 500 other people to a packed
Mother's Day buffet at the Hilton, with long lines and lukewarm,
overcooked food in a crowded dining room that sounded like a Boeing 747
landing in a tunnel.
Then it was lunch at Grandma's about an hour
after finishing breakfast and dinner at Nana's a couple of hours after
that. While Grace ate little and said less, her mother chatted on happily
the whole time, eating everything and oooohing and aaaahing about how
delicious everything was. Of course she had cooked half the dishes
herself, and then helped serve, clear, and clean up while the others
pitched in on only one or two of those chores.
And while the other adults all bragged about
their children, one-upping each other as if they had never outgrown their
sibling rivalries, her mother complimented all of her nieces and nephews
extravagantly, expressed her pleasure at their achievements, and said
simply that she was very proud about how Grace was waitressing fifteen
hours a week while she was still in high school. "She's very independent,"
her mother said, as always turning a negative into a
Grace and her cousins smirked at one another
across the table, well aware of the difference between their parents'
words and reality. This was for all of them a ritual ordeal. Why grownups
had to be such hypocrites was a mystery to them, since they were certain
that even after they were adults they would never act that
When the charade was over, and they were
finally released back into their separate cages, Grace's mother took Grace
in her arms and told her how much she had enjoyed her Mother's Day and how
proud she was of Grace and her independent spirit, how glad she was to
have her as a daughter, and how much she loved her.
Grace endured it as usual, mumbling an almost
inaudible "I love you, too" at the end and then turning away. But then,
perhaps because she was finally old enough, perhaps because she had simply
reached the limit of what she could stand, she said, "Maybe you should try
telling the truth sometimes."
Her mother turned red and quivered as though
Grace had just slapped her face.
"I try to tell the truth," she said softly.
Grace felt like she had just crossed some sort
of boundary line into Hell, but she perversely kept on
"You can't always be so nice," she said. "Not
really. It's all an act, isn't it?"
"It's a decision," her mother said simply.
"One that I hope someday you'll make."
"A decision? You can decide what to
The idea struck Grace like a
"Of course. You can decide what kind of person
you want to be, and you can be it."
Her mother's eyes were full of the kind of
love that had always made Grace squirm.
"Don't you ever get angry? Disappointed?
Pissed off? Like telling someone to go shove it?"
"Of course I do! But it's like ..." Her
mother, as often happened, took some time to search for the right words.
"It's like those feelings are a kind of fog that will burn off later in
the day, once the sun gets strong enough. So the truer feelings aren't the
fog, which hangs around for only an hour or two, but the sun, that shines
for most of the day."
"Sometimes fog can hang around for days,"
"You can always fly above it," her mother
answered, smiling through tears. "Look down on it. It looks white and
fluffy from above."
"If you're an angel."
"If you have imagination. Look at what just
happened, Grace. You accused me of being a hypocrite. My first feeling was
shock, hurt, anger. But then I realized how much courage and trust it must
have taken to say that, and I admired you for it. It really was the most
wonderful Mother's Day gift you could have given me. So I let those bad
feelings go, like little fingers of blackness in a very large and pure
lake. Then I tried just to speak the truth. And see what came of it! How
She was crying now, and she took Grace back
into her arms. And Grace, too, began to cry, not knowing exactly why, but
knowing that something important was happening.
"Say it!" her mother urged her. "Say
"I love you," Grace said, the real words just
bobbing up to breathe, as though she had held them under water long
"Thank you!" her mother said. "Never let the
anger and pain overwhelm the love. The anger and pain are real. The love
is more real."
"You make every day beautiful for me," her
mother said. "Do you understand that?"
Grace nodded again, hearing it for the
umpteenth time, but this time without the urge to burrow into that hiding
place inside her heart.
"Happy Mother's Day!" she said
"Oh, it has been a very happy day, my
darling!" her mother answered, kissing her on the cheek. "The happiest