Apr 20, 2016

Other mothers, 2015

(Written May 2015 but published April 2016) 
We had just finished up at Oyons doctor yesterday afternoon. On his way out, Dr. Biller paused in the doorway, twinkled briefly and said "Happy Mothers Day!". As we drove home, the car radio burbled its support too for this sentimental occasion: WBUR's alliance with Winston flowers, please your mom and support public radio.

Like last year, my thoughts wandered from the fanfare around this holiday to those who are deprived of it:
- Mother's who have lost their children
- Mothers whose children cannot (or will not) come celebrate like in years past
- Single mothers whose kids may not have father figures to orchestrate the celebrations that young kids cannot wing on their own 
- People who are struggling to care for and celebrate their mothers
- Women who wanted to, be could not become mothers 

Sometimes, when the weight of other peoples' losses bears down on me (intensified by my own guilty gratitude for my blessings),  'buckets and dippers' bail me out. 

This psychological model (also known as 'Bucket Filling') is a lovely analogy that visualizes potential happiness as a bucket that must be filled by accumulated drops. It's elegant in its simplicity: you fill your own bucket by filling the buckets of others. (Read more here).

It's a model many American schools have adopted and that I discovered it while browsing children's books when Oyon was a toddler. It was fun helping his day care pre-k class adopt it. It's been rewarding personally, producing contentment and community connections in ways I had not foreseen. Selfishly, it's become a reliable source of Hope in an uncertain world: easier to generate my own happiness than wait for others to deliver it to me.

So this Mothers Day, I tried to drip a few smiles into other buckets.

I approached the wonderful 'Meals on wheels' coordinator at the Waltham Center on Aging, Maureen Baglio, and like last year, she slipped a card and token gift (from us) into 30 hot meals headed out to lonely, elderly often times, impecunious, women.

She told me how much the attention meant to seniors who are friendless,  family-less, haunted by frailty and saddened by memories of a livelier past. Last year, some recipients of our token gifts called the office in tears to express their gratitude and to find out whom to thank. We chose to remain anonymous. 

Because sustainability is key to any scheme, I try to keep time and material costs down:
A rose or a pen? What's in a name?
- my supplies cost $13, sourced from two dollar stores that I could hit on weekly groceries run
- I spent an hour or two to make the flower pens (snip off a rose from a bouquet and tape it on pen end with electrical tape). 
- last year I wrote a verse for the inside but my son nominated my little niece in London this year. Rayna (7)(, is a very talented poet and writer and her cousin is rightly impressed by her work. This is the lovely verse she penned from far way London - it went on each card:
Happy mothers day to all
Wish all mothers a good day, big or small.
So widen your smile and keep it that way.
Hope these words make a terrific day!

Rayna Lahiri (7), London, UK

Oyon-isms (2014, 8 yrs old)
Oyon: Do you know what I don't like about NOT knowing swear words?
Me: What?
O: I don't know when I've used one!
Me: Is this a common problem?
O (whispering): well..... I used the 'd' word by mistake just the other day before I knew it was a swear!
Me (whispering back): and what IS the 'd' word?
O: dumb!!
Me (straight faced): I see. You make a Good point but I'm still not teaching you to curse.

When I'd mastered my urge to giggle, I defined 'dumb' to him (literally and colloquially). I learnt something too: that to a 2nd grader, it's so offensive it might as well be a swear word.  What makes for a swear was an enlightening conversation all around.

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