Sunday, May 8, 2011

Marigolds, Milk Cartons and Evening in Paris

Yesterday we went to the graduation of my husband’s nephew.  It was hard to find him in the sea of graduates.  It was hard to find his parents, siblings, and his cousin who had come to celebrate this momentous occasion.  Eventually, we heard his name, saw him wave to his parents, and like that feeling when you finally find Waldo, we were satisfied.  

I spent a lot of time looking at the women.  I determined I wanted a dress.  So many pretty spring dresses.  I am self-conscious about so many things but here were all these women, in all shapes in sizes dressed for spring celebrations.  Yellows, purples, flowers, and butterflies contrasted to my black skirt and shirt.  It’s definitely time for some color in my wardrobe.  Now that my mood has brightened, it’s time to update my drab look.

As I uncomfortably sat on the bleacher bench enduring the hundreds of names being read, I thought how special this day is for their mothers.  What a wonderful Mother’s Day present for their moms!  I thought of last year as I saw my daughter walk across a stage and be hooded as a Juris Doctor.  I was so proud of her.  She probably would not want to be compared to me, but I thought of all the people there, I knew the most of how hard it is to get a degree while raising children.  She had so many difficult obstacles, but she did it.  Her children seemed as bored as mine did the day they watched me get my degree with her in my belly.   

As she walked across the stage my husband whispered to me, "congratulations that’s your accomplishment too."  The tears streamed down my face just as they are now.  My father often said “all Yoyce wants to be is a Mommy.”  That was true.  When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d mutter a teacher.  Of the two choices open to women, nurses and teachers, it seemed the better option.  But inside I knew all I wanted to be was a wife and mother.

This morning I’m thinking about marigolds in a milk carton.  Perched on my wooden desk at PS 94 with blunt scissors I carefully cut the top off my milk carton.  There was Elsie the Cow looking at me.  This carton would be transformed into a gift for another Elsie, my mother.  My little hands would push the dirt down.  At the instructions of Mrs. Dickinson we would drop the seeds into the dirt.  For weeks they would sit on the sill of the large windows of my second grade classroom.  Soaking the sun peeking through the painted daffodils and tulips on the windows, they grew.

By Mother’s Day most were in bloom.  Orange and yellow bursts of spring, some construction paper walls to cover Elsie the Cow it was time to take my gift home.  At the door she was waiting to walk me home.  With pride I walked home with my hand in my mom’s clutching the marigolds.  I thought everyone on 5th Avenue would know I loved my mother.  On Saturday I’d walk with my hand in my dad’s to look for some Evening in Paris scented talcum powder and a card to honor her again for Mother’s Day.

My teachers and my dad taught me well.  They taught me to honor my mother.  They taught me that the woman whose body carried me, delivered me into the world, burped me, changed me, fed me, and loved me the best she could was due respect, honor, and love.  

As I think of marigolds, milk cartons, and Evening in Paris, I wish I could place a marigold plant on my mother's grave.  I couldn’t make the trip to visit her grave.  Instead I watched a sea of the future get their degrees.  I hope they honor their mothers.  I hope today they give their mother a hug and a kiss telling them that they love them.  I hope they will do that every year. Someday they’re mother’s will be laid to rest.  Someday they will wish they could plant one more marigold in a milk carton. 

Happy Mother’s Day.


  1. Poignant and beautiful

  2. Happy Mother's Day to you. Congratulations on all your accomplishesments as a mother, wife, daughter, woman, friend, & teacher.

  3. Every mother deserves honor... just because they gave birth to you, if nothing else. Every mother fails at times, every mother makes choices that sometimes turn out wrong - after all EVERY mother is human and thus subject to NOT being perfect. EVERY CHILD needs to understand this concept and honor their mother (and father)regardless of their relationship with them. What most children don't understand until they are older - sometimes into their 40's and 50's - just how much they love and appreciate their parents. One just prays that they realize it before their parent's are gone. Regret is way UNDERrated :-).


Please keep comments appropriate