My mom is not an overly emotional, sentimental, tissue-needing-during-the-sad movie type of person.
She is not the type who will remember small(?) details; events, locations, people’s names, faces…in other words, she is not an overly sensitive soul.
Growing up, It was funny how my dad – a tall, big military man- remembered the milestone dates of our lives: birthdays, wedding anniversaries, graduations…He was also the first one to cry while watching sad movies during Friday movie night in our household.
With this understanding of my mom’s “relaxed” approach towards remembering /celebrating milestone dates, I was surprised to find stacks of the letters/ cards I sent her years ago. They were from my university years, from letters and cards describing university life, challenging classes, unlikable classmates…and wishing her Mother’s Days.
Discovering my old handwritten letters/cards in a decrepit shoe box and how my mom kept them all during all those these years made me realize that she is a mom after all.
Describing the joy she felt from the handwritten card and gift I sent for one Mother’s Day celebration was remarkable.
However, all those milestone celebrations gradually stopped when I moved from NYC to Toronto.
Moving back in with Mom/dad and seeing them daily, celebrating annual Mother’s Days did not seem pressing.
Life gradually took over the big celebratory moments over the years and covered them with everyday routines and habits.
Instead of one special Mother’s Day flowers/gifts/dinner celebration, we slowly built our weekly happy moments, especially after my dad’s passing a few years ago.
Here are our daily, weekly Mother’s Day-like celebrations we built over the years.
Daily afternoon walks
This great habit formed out of our necessity, to be more precise, my mom’s necessity: her knee pain due to aging.
My mom has always been active and healthy.
She is one of those lucky people who does not get sick easily. Without fail, everyone in our family gets winter cold except her; she seems to thrive in cold weather.
While mumbling her usual pointed remark about our feeble health state, she took care of all her family members.
Lately, her strong “no sick day” health conditions seem to suffer. With her weakening mobility due to her old age, she does not seem to be the usual fast-walking person she once was.
Our past running together in the neighbourhood running becomes a distant memory I desperately want to hold on to.
With my flexible work schedule and my need to work out, I suggested our daily afternoon walk exercise to Mom. Being the active person she had always been, she was enthusiastic about our new routine: my day-to-day running with her walking!
We have been practicing these walking/running rituals for several years now.
Over the years, our “daily” part became more like a 3 to 4 days per week ritual; we both learned to enjoy our time together, even though there have been many days when we faced inevitable many “don’t feel like it” moments.
Coffee shop chats
The best part of our daily (more like 3-4 days per week) exercise routine is the ending part: COFFEE. It was a way to reward (and create an incentive) us to stick to the exercise routine with our favourite drink.
After pushing ourselves through the “don’t feel like it” walking/running routines, we are rewarded with the very easy “definitely feel like it” drink at our favourite neighbourhood tim holtens.
With our “rewards” in our hands, we talk about our days, feelings, and thoughts….There have been various topics during coffee sessions, some happy and joyous, and some not so much.
For some reason, our coffee times became therapy sessions without the therapist present.
Sharing our thoughts, especially the problematic ones-work challenges, dad passing, and getting old – have been therapeutic, if not palpable.
Of course, these coffee talks are not all about deep conversations; they also consist of our other interest: fashion. While seeing the customers with unique outfits/shoes/bags and sharing our views about them is another source of happiness coffee times brings.
Sunday cooking time
It is a bit uneasy to say the “cooking,” at least in my case, since my mom is the one doing the cooking.
I am more like her assistant, helping her to cook, table setting, vegetable washing, dishwashing after the meals…in another words, not actual food.
I can count the days I cooked over my decade of NYC living. My way of dealing with meal prepping was done entirely with restaurants. Either I ate at the restaurants or called to order takeouts from these restaurants.
Pretty much every meal I ate out. It was typical for me and my friends to meet for dinners and purposely leave half portion for the following day to heat and consume.
It is a common practice in meal planning(?) in NYC life. The waiters/waitresses are used to bring empty containers along with the food we order.
With this economic/weight loss-friendly approach to meal planning practice, my lifelong aversion to cooking probably started.
After moving back from NYC years ago, I no longer had to worry about cooking. I just had to focus on my favourite part of cooking: eating.
However, after years of enjoying mom’s cooking, I decided to become active in cooking, even in an assistant role. That is how our Sunday cooking night was born.
After providing much unhelpful assistance (thinly sliced carrots looking thick, sugar instead of salt in soap recipe) and enduring mom’s pointed remarks, I am slowly getting the hang of this cooking thing.
As I get used to our Sunday cooking rituals, I slowly position myself as the eventual cook in Mom’s kitchen, even though she is unaware of it.
As my next cooking journey, I plan to check out reading materials I have never read: cooking books!
As I get older, I realize the significance of everyday/small/mundane moments; they outweigh the annual momentous day like Mother’s Day.
Being creative in coming up with ways to spend more time with Mom was probably the best celebration I could come up with.
I suspect that my mom (and dad) agrees with me on these daily/weekly celebration methods.
Even with Mom’s less-than-ideal enthusiasm appearance, she ( and I) will cherish these daily/weekly rituals far more than the one-day event in a year.
Of course, buying the bouquet of roses for this Mother’s Day would be the icing on the cake, even for a non-emotional, non-sentimental mom like mine:)