Mother’s Day — And Mom Wars!

mother's daySunday is Mother’s Day, and for one brief shining moment, we’re going to be up to our elbows in flowers, chocolates and long-distance phone calls.  But it’s not all knickknacks and Netflix for mom this year.  Unfortunately, in recent history, our annual binge of maternal appreciation has taken on a darker tone.  Running just under the radar, there’s a dirty little war going on.  Moms everywhere are forming alliances, and across Social Media and the blogosphere, they’re speaking out.  Wrapped in their all-too-altruistic concern for better parenting, they’re sending each other one unequivocal message: “Hey, bitch!  You’re doing it wrong!”

Nobody knows who cast the first nasty, but it’s generally agreed that by the time Stay-at-Home Moms went public with their concerns over Working Moms’ lack of maternal instincts, the gloves were already off.  Working Moms responded by mentioning that all women face choices and some choose to utilize their additional talents to balance two jobs well, rather than one badly.  Seeing an opportunity, Hover (Helicopter?) Moms worried that downloading parental responsibility to institutions such as Daycare tears apart the natural genetic bond between mother and child.  At that point, Non-biological Moms, stung by the innuendo, pointed out that historically their image had been tarnished by fairytale depictions of the evil stepmother.  They went on to blame corporate giant Disney for perpetuating this stereotype.  Seizing an opportunity, Gay and Lesbian Moms declared their support for Non-biological Moms but wanted to raise awareness that they, too, had been victimized by Disney and called for a boycott of the corporate giant.  New Moms saw this as a direct attack on their own recent history and (while maintaining their tolerance for sexual orientation) wanted to know what was wrong with giving children positive role models like Elsa, Merida and Belle.  This was when Organic Moms and New Age Moms came together to admonish the film industry for not providing healthy snacks in movie theatres.  They went on to showcase several hundred DIY, chemical-free recipes for children and the whole family.  This resulted in an angry outburst from Single Moms who said they didn’t have the time or the money to grow their own oranges and quinoa, and somebody should get real for Christ’s sake.  Designer Moms immediately called for tolerance and voiced their concern that being a mom was all about parenting, not politics and (according to Criada, the nanny) free-range quinoa was available several places on the other side of town.  Free-Range Moms, upon hearing the words “free-range,” grabbed their kids, who had been playing in the backyard, and hid them in the basement, in fear that the cops and social services would come and take them away.

This is only the briefest synopsis and, no, it’s not pretty.  Personally, I live in hope that this Mother’s Day, moms all over the world will stop, take three deep breaths, forget their differences, and remember that all moms have one overwhelming thing in common: at some point, they didn’t practice safe sex.

It’s Spring! Thanks, Mother Nature!

Thank God it’s spring.  This isn’t just a calendar page turn or a set your watch an hour ahead, this is the real meal deal.  Mother Nature is changing her clothes, and Father Time is watching.  We mere mortals are only a small part of what they both have in mind, but just like every year since protoplasmic slime came out of the water, it’s going to be spectacular.  Spring is to love what winter is to bundling up and reading novels.  As of today, the birds and the bees are back, and they’re feeling frisky.

Unfortunately, the spring solstice doesn’t carry the kind of punch it used to.  These days, it’s mostly living on its reputation.  We all know it’s spring, but, unless you’ve embraced the New Age, three millennia after the fact, who cares?  In a world of canned-air malls, thunderdomed sports stadiums and concrete canyon streets, Mother Nature could take a month off and nobody would notice.  While this is strictly true, ignore Mother Nature at your peril because she has a way of slapping the ego out of the most arrogant among us.  Primitive humans knew this; that’s why they treated the spring solstice with such respect.

Way back in the day, winter in the northern hemisphere was nothing to be trifled with.  Our species never physically adapted to the cold the way some of the other animals on this planet did.  However, despite our natural tendency to freeze to death, we insisted on living in climates that were inhospitable for four months of the year.  The only recourse for this stupidity was to outsmart Mother Nature using the tools available – fire and the skins of more practical animals.  We hid in caves during the worst of the winter weather and only came out for food and firewood.  Obviously, we survived long enough to understand that, regardless of how brutally Mother Nature tried to kill us, eventually she would relent and treat us like her special children again.  This was cause for celebration.

As we evolved beyond beetle-brow tough to early human clever, we must have realized that these constantly changing seasons were not random.  They had a pattern.  When winter was over, the leaves came out.  From there, only a Neanderthal wouldn’t put two and two together and realize, once the leaves started to fall, winter was coming back.  (That’s why there are no more Neanderthals, BTW.  Just sayin’.)  With that in mind, it wasn’t a Cro-Magnon leap to figure out that, with a little planning, we could gather food and firewood during the good weather when they were plentiful, store them away, and a smart caveman could sit out the winter in relative comfort.  Thus, instead of hanging out in the cave, shivering and getting skinny, Grog the Caveman had some leisure time to figure out a few other things.  For example, he’d notice all the signs of spring that we don’t care about any more.  Things like, when the kids started falling through the ice in the river it wouldn’t be that long before the good eating birds would come back.  Or don’t worry about the bear in the next cave, because he’s going to be asleep until the snow in the meadow melts.  This was important stuff that affected Grog’s survival.  The more he knew about when spring was going to show up, the more likely it was that he would be around to see it.

Unfortunately, climatology hadn’t been invented yet, and so Grog filed all these various things he was discovering under “Mother Nature: Whims and Idiosyncrasies.”  It made sense to Grog that Mother Nature was real.  He saw her all around him.  She made the flowers bloom, the wind blow and the angry black clouds blot out the sun.  So it followed that, when spring finally did come and Grog and his family were still around, he should be polite and say thanks.

These days, we don’t much care for Mother Nature.  For the last two hundred years or so, we’ve been fighting it out with her for supremacy on this planet.  There are those who say we’re winning and those who say we’ve already lost.  Unfortunately, the majority of us don’t seem to give a damn, one way or the other.  Our egos are so secure we no longer thank her — or anybody else — for our existence.  However, on days like today, when spring is in the air and all’s well with the world, I tend to get a little caveman humble.  I can see something in the crow building a nest and that sprouty green sprig that’s probably a weed.  Even in the city, there’s an early morning smell that isn’t diesel fumes.  Something is happening again this year, and it’s going to fantastic.  We should all be thankful we get to experience it all again.

Life isn’t Fair … to the other guy!

Somewhere between the point of impact and the bloody nose, some back-fence philosopher will invariably tell you life isn’t fair.  Not very witty and not very original but true all the same.  We all know life isn’t fair.  For example, the San Diego Chargers have never won the Super Bowl and the Dallas Cowboys have won it like two hundred times.  NFL parity be damned; that’s just not fair.  Nor are the long lines at the DMV, the amount of sodium in a Big Mac™ or the odds of winning in Vegas.  I have a friend who used to say, “Life is a series of long shots and then you die.”  I never agreed with him, but he’s got a point.  The fact is life isn’t fair.  The problem is we all know that’s true, but nobody believes it – not really.

We believe life isn’t fair … to the other guy.  We think the random bumps and bruises Mother Nature dishes out on a daily basis should be reserved for somebody else.  We’re willing to take our lumps too but we want a reason for them.  We also want our personal attributes recognized by the universe, and we want rewards and punishments meted out accordingly.  When that doesn’t happen, we think we’re getting screwed.

This wasn’t always the case.  In the late 19th century, novelist Thomas Hardy made a career out of ruining fictional lives with innocent acts of chance: an appointment missed or a letter misplaced meant his characters lost out on happily ever after and went straight to abject misery.  These days, we pooh-pooh Hardy`s ùse of coincidence as a literary device, but the Victorians thought it quite acceptable.  (They were more concerned about the sex.)  Our recent ancestors realized that life was hazardous and you had to be very careful because happenstance did happen – with dire consequences.  Our benevolent universe is a recent invention.  It`s less than sixty years old.

For the last three generations, we`ve been working under the delusion that we can build a risk-free society.  Actually, we`ve done a relatively good job.  Life — as we know it — has come a long way from what 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”  Our institutions give us a level of protection against random acts of misfortune.  They provide a certain amount of certainty to our lives, and offer slight guarantees against disaster.  Unfortunately, because we’ve been living under these minimal safeguards for so long — and they have worked so well — we now not only believe in a benevolent universe; we demand it.  In short, “life isn’t fair” might apply to the generic universe, but nobody takes it personally.

The real problem is, as our society’s cocoon wraps itself around us, we simply don’t take life seriously anymore.  We don’t believe it can hurt us, and when it does, we’re shocked.  I’m not talking about life-threatening diseases or major disasters like earthquakes; you’re not going to win those babies.  I’m talking about everyday trouble that comes whipping out of nowhere and kicks us in the teeth — stuff that just happens.  It’s nothing personal.  There’s no giant ledger of debits and credits, and you didn’t get your share of credits.  Nobody’s trying to thwart your attempts at a good life.  There’s no need to rage against the machine, get angry or threaten to sue.  And it’s not going to do you any good to cry or sulk or go back into therapy.

Here’s the deal.  Sometimes, the owner doesn’t clean up after the dog. It’s that simple. There’s nothing you can do about it — except, maybe remember: despite our best intentions, life isn’t fair and you need to wear shoes.