"And now for something completely different . . . Mother's Day cards for everyone in your life, everyone who has never been in your life, and especially for those who have never been mothers, not even a whit. . ."
It is that special time of year when even John Cleese might venture out in a panic to purchase just the right card for his mother, with the generic illustrations of bluebirds and daisies and sentimental prose inside.
But actually, Cleese made a tad fun of his mother who is no longer with us. He said, "I did have a dreadful mother. Isn't that a terrible thing to say? And she lived to be 101- I thought I'd never get rid of her," commented in his classic Monty Pythonesque style.
But I am sure that if Cleese were to buy a card for his mother, should she be around and making him feel liked a loved son, it would simply say something akin to "Happy Mother's Day to a wonderful mother," and leave it at that.
But it is completely different now when looking for a card for dear old mum, as I recently discovered when attempting to purchase cards for the mothers in my life.
Yes, I do mean mothers, which strangely to me still means women who gave birth, raised children and who love them and who you think quite fondly of in return. Sounds simple enough?
George Carlin simply had this to say about his mother, "I remember when I was a kid I used to come home from Sunday School and my mother would get drunk and try and make us pancakes."
After strolling into my local gift store with my half-calf, triple tall, non-fat, half-skimmed, double latte with a sprinkle of gender neutral, parentally-challenged political correctness, I was proven wrong.
I thought I had been taken prisoner by a Saturday Night Live sketch or as if Alan Funt might jump out from behind a display of glass animals and say, "You're on Candid Camera!" But alas, I was left alone with the muzak version of The Clash's "Should I stay or Should I go," shopping alone, but really wanting to go.
No such luck, as I passed by the Hello Kitty and Catholic Confirmation chatchki aisles and stumbled on what was apparently the Mother's Day card section.
I immediately became confused and confounded. Was my mother actually my mother at all? Was she a woman, a man, an extra terrestrial, Jerry Springer? And was I really her daughter, her son, or someone from the recent anthology of 'Who's Who of Political Correctness?
In all seriousness, some of the cards were along these lines:
"Happy Mother's Day to my Friend who isn't a Mother but Wishes that She was"
"Happy Mother's Day to my Sister who isn't a Mother but always acted like one"
"Happy Mother's Day to my Father who always acted like the Mother we needed"
"Happy Mother's Day to my Son, who I am so grateful I am the Mother of"
"Happy Mother's Day to the Woman who I wish were my Mother"
"Happy Mother's Day to my Aunt and Uncle who raised me when No One else Would"
"Happy Mother's day to my step-mother in law, and thank god my father divorced you"
"Happy Mother's Day to my Brother who is actually my Sister and can't have any Children at all now"
Okay, so I made the last two up.
But you get the idea, or non-ideas that now confuse the heck out of me.
You can choose to look at this phenomena in several ways; you can be hysterically irritated because the term mother has now become convoluted that it one day may lose its meaning entirely--as many words in the English language have.
Another option is to comprehend that it is a fact of life, sadly or not, that the picture of the American family has changed, and that it is simply a truism and necessity that different themes of motherhood have therefore emerged.
Perhaps I am in fact saying 'Let them eat cake' when it comes to some people not being able to buy a simple Mothers Day card and call it a day.
Perhaps I should be thankful that I have the classic mother, mother in law and grandmother whom I love, love me and that I am still able to keep my cards simple and to the point.
Or one might have a sense of humor as Calvin Trillin did when he said, "The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."
And perhaps I should realize that many people today are without mothers at all; that they make mothers out of whomever they are able to, and that it is not for me to judge who anyone chooses as their mother.
Whatever I take away from this, I did finally take away four copies of one perfect card just for the mammy's in my life.
The card I ended up clutching as I approached the counter as if it were the last piece of bread on earth was old-fashioned and intended for a small child to their mother.
It had a simple sketch of a mommy chicken fluffing up the feathers of her baby chick, in front of an old barn that said "Home Sweet Home" on its rafters.
Inside the card it simply read, "Happy Mother's Day from your baby chick, Cluck Cluck Cluck."
Sappy, silly and juvenile, yes. But it contained everything necessary and excluded everything that wasn't, and I am sure that mom, grandmother and mom-in-law will be happy and chirp to high heaven.
I also hope other people who are thought of as mothers and wished a Happy Mother's Day are thrilled and happy with whatever cards and messages they are lucky enough to receive.
After all, sometimes we should be grateful that things are completely different, as long as the constant is that we can still be cherished.
By the way, "Happy Mother's Day to my cat who is a boy, but if he were a human and a woman, he would most likely be a mother and a good one at that."
Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to myself, who happens to be a mother and a woman, at least for now.