The True Gift of Motherhood

(In honor of my mother and all the other moms celebrating today, I’m rerunning a column I wrote in 2009 and also kicking myself for not giving my mom the same gift this year.  Miss you, Mom!  xoxo)

As I was perusing the card aisle, I noticed that Hallmark had already started replacing their Mother’s Day cards with Father’s Day cards and I realized I’d better start thinking about what to get my mother this year before my only remaining option were stuffed teddy bears leftover from Valentine’s Day.

When I was little, I used to make my mom popsicle stick picture frames that she seemed to really love. But somehow I thought that giving your mom a popsicle stick picture frame when you’re forty-five might not be as appreciated as it was when you were six. Of course I was pretty sure I could make a much better picture frame now because my hand is steadier and I’m much less likely to get the glue all over our pet cat the way I did back then. But I thought a different gift might be warranted, nonetheless.

Still, it was hard to figure out what to get her.  She had enough nightgowns to fill a lingerie catalog and yet she mostly wore a t-shirt to bed.  She had more jewelry than Elizabeth Taylor yet she mostly wore the same earrings every day.  She had plenty of bath oils and scarves and pretty writing paper and all the other things they tell you your mother would love for Mother’s Day and so I was at a loss for what to get her that would convey the depth of my love.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would give my mom her homemade cards along with burnt breakfast in bed, take her to the park for a picnic lunch, and make an extra effort not to fight with each other so Mom could have a peaceful Mother’s Day.  This seemed to really make her happy, although for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why. Toys, candy, even money, I could understand. But lousy, kid-cooked food and hanging out with me and my annoying brothers? That, I didn’t quite get.

“Someday when you’re a mother, you’ll understand,” she’d say, as she’d give me a squeeze.

Of course, like everything else that she predicted, she was right about this, too.  And so when I had my own kids, I suddenly understood that it wasn’t about the gifts at all, but about spending the day with the people I loved, and having them want to spend the day with me.

Spending the day with my mom for Mother’s Day now, however, wasn’t quite as easy. Several years ago my parents had sold the house I grew up in and they had moved down to Florida This put them about a thousand miles and a two and a half hour plane ride away.   Suddenly, the popsicle stick picture frame was looking like a better option.

So I called my brother to see if he had any ideas.

He did.

“Why don’t we see if we can find an inexpensive flight and bring Mom up here for mother’s day,” he suggested. “We could split the cost.”

“She’ll never go for it,” I argued. “She gets mad when we just buy her gum.”

We decided to get my dad in on the plan, and then without asking my mom how she felt about it, we just sent her the ticket.

“It’s non-refundable,” I said when she called to complain. “Happy Mother’s Day. We’ll see you next week!”

“Don’t you want to know how I feel?” she asked.

“I know how you feel,” I said. “And I love you, too.”


©2009, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Da Holidays

An Open Letter to the Grammar Police

Dear Grammar Police,

I wanted to thank you publicly for noticing a grammatical error in my recent column with regard to my use of the pronoun “I.”

Apparently I had written, “the kids and I,” when I should have said “the kids and me.”  This was a gross error of unparalleled magnitude and I apologize profusely for committing this miscarriage of syntax and offending your finely tuned grammatical sensibilities.  I realize that as a writer, I should be well-schooled in the use of “I vs. Me,” but it’s (its?) often difficult to remember all the rules when I’m focused on much less important things like making sure my humor column is funny, which, actually, sometimes necessitates breaking beloved grammar rules (the shock, the horror).green-blackboard The truth is, there (their? they’re?) are so many rules to remember, (:? ;?) such as not ending a sentence with a preposition like another writer does who (whom? that?) I went to school with.   Or a sentence fragment.  And starting a sentence with a conjunction.

I’m sure my 3rd grade English teacher Mrs. Kinsler (may she rest in peace. Or is it piece?) would be appalled to know that I had not yet mastered the “I vs. Me” rule.  She once sent a letter home to my parents and I (me and my parents?) about my ongoing problems with this rule, and one time she even sent me to the principal (principle??) because of it.  He assured Mrs. Kinsler that

…in spite of my grammatical challenges, I would, in all likelihood, manage to eek through 3rd grade English, and might even learn enough from this embarrassing situation to one day become an english teacher myself, or at the very least, a newspaper copy editor.

Still, neither the principal nor Mrs. Kinsler could have anticipated that certain grammatical concepts might continue to be an issue for me as an adult (well, Mrs. Kinsler probably did), and I must admit, I am somewhat ashamed that while I no longer end a sentence with a preposition, I vs. Me is something I still have a problem with.

Sadly, as a writer in today’s technological age, I have become lazy and prefer to spend my time lying (laying?) around eating bon bons and letting the computer’s spell and grammar check do the work for me.  This is a continual (continuous?) challenge for me and something I know I need to work on because it affects (effects?) my readers who (whom?) count on me to get it right (write?  rite?  Jeez.).  I plan to address this forthwith (in a fortnight, actually, if I am being forthcoming), and assure you my editors and I (and me?  Me and my editors? Whatever) will make every attempt to make sure this does not happen again.

Thank you so much for your understanding. You sound like someone I could really be friends with.

Sincerely, or most sincerely, but definitely not sincerefully,


Tracy Beckerman


Filed under The Writer's Life