Sunday, May 8, 2016
"The world has changed, you perfidious bigot you."
Happy Mother's Day, first of all.
If you are a mother, I hope you take this moment to bask in the outpourings of affection being showered upon you, from those for whom you sacrificed the best years of your life, trying to raise them into some semblance of maturity.
And if you are a child—and who among us is not?—I hope you remember to thank your mother or, if that is not possible, to remember her, as fondly as you can.
And since it's springtime, and May, and Mother's Day to boot, a cheery thought, as my own little Mother's Day gift to you.
I was at the Hallmark Store in Northbrook this week, looking over the Mother's Day cards, of which there are a profusion, and I noticed that they represent, even more than I can recall them doing in previous years, the full spectrum of the maternal experience. Not just in English and Spanish and Polish and Italian, not just for the religious and the secular, the casual and the formal, the funny and the emphatic.
But also cards for people you might not think would get cards today. Cards for "Ex-Mother-in-Law" and "Ex-Daughter-in-Law" (reassuring her, "Some things never change," such as the feelings of their former in-laws) . Cards from one mother to her co-mother, and for mothers whose child has died, and for individuals who were "like a mother" without, apparently, enjoying official motherhood status.
Which is all wonderful and in keeping with complicated, messy reality as it is lived by real, flesh-and-blood people, and so different from the icy, theoretical, my-way-or-the-highway, white, Protestant, a mommy-and-a-daddy-and-tw0-and-a-half-kids wilted former ideal that so many of our legislators, particularly in the Southland, seem to still be paddling toward, even as it recedes over the horizon.
Hallmark Cards, based in Kansas City, Missouri, was founded in 1910, and is not known for being on the forefront of social change. They can't afford to be. Printing greeting cards costs money, and if they create a style of card that nobody wants, then they lose money on that card. Lose enough money on enough cards, you don't say in business for 106 years. They also lose money if their brand strays into the odd or the unacceptable. To be included among the realm of individuals to whom Hallmark sells cards is to be normal, by definition, to be acceptable, and on Mother's Day, 2016, acceptability is a very wide net.
See? I told you, good news. Yes, not everyone has gotten the memo yet. It might go down better in a card. "The world has changed, you perfidious bigot you" and you open it up, "Get with the program, bub." Not something Hallmark would sell. Yet. Maybe by the fall