All day. Every day. For your entire life.
Realistically no other person could possibly have the influence on your life that your mother has had and will continue to have. I mean, aside from the obvious physical involvement, mothers affect nearly everything we do or say. At least that's my experience.
This will be my second straight Mother's Day without my mother. And about eleventy-seven times during the past two years I have caught myself nearly reaching for the phone to tell her about some development in my life. Something to share. Or just to say hello from a couple thousand miles away.
Sadly, she is no longer there to call after 84 years. But believe me, she is always there in spirit.
Rarely ever does a conversation with my kids occur that it doesn't evolve into a recollection of something their grandma had said or done relative to the given situation.
Rarely do we all go out to eat that the conversation doesn't turn to the time my mother, visiting here from California, asked the waitress at The Monon about one of the myriad of sides on the menu there.
The poor girl looked like she'd just been asked to reveal bin Laden's secret hiding spot when Mom questioned her about the green beans.
"Are your green beans fresh or are they canned?" Mom wanted to know. Not that I had ever before seen my mother order green beans in a restaurant.
In a halting response that was nonetheless framed in perfect "Jeopardy!" style, our uncertain young waitress phrased her answer in the form of a question: "Freshly canned?"
Mom's decaf coffee orders were equally as entertaining. We all got so we could recite the lines along with her. "Is your decaf coffee fresh?" she always asked as a persistent prelude to ordering a cup.
For years I wanted the waiter or waitress to come back with something snappy like, "It was fresh when I made it yesterday morning."
But our servers always kindly played along, generally responding with "If it isn't, I'll make a new pot." And I'm sure that response was reflected in the tip.
As a kid, I was amazed that Mom was so acutely aware that there were indeed people starving in China or had the scientific savvy to know my face was "going to freeze that way" whenever I made an expression she disliked.
Multitudes of mothers are credited with such similarly uninspired lines as "You're going to break your neck" or "I'm going to wash your mouth out with soap" or the ever-popular "Because I said so."
But with my mother, her go-to expression was always: "Watch out for the little kids!"
I heard that a jillion times growing up, invariably whenever I had to back the car out of our driveway. It was as if a parade of small children was poised to tramp past our house whenever I got behind the wheel. It didn't matter that I was about the youngest person in our neighborhood, so where those little kids were coming from I never knew.
But it did always make we wonder if she'd given my dad the same advice the time he smashed the old Olds Delta 88 into the chimney at the side of the driveway.
Certainly it was good advice, a warning to be alert and as much a statement of love and affection as any "I love you" might be to a son.
Truth be known, to this day I still "watch out for the little kids."
That's for you, Mom.
So please, give your mother a hug and kiss for me. And not just on Mother's Day. I can no longer do that with my mom, and believe me, I miss that. And I know you will, too.