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05/09/2004

Happy Mother's Day

I may be the only infertile crank alive who remains unfazed by Mother's Day.

It may be because I see it as a manufactured occasion, little more than a commercial spur to make us pay to say the things we could be saying for free every day of the year. It may be because no one goes out of her way to rub my nose in my infertility on a regular basis — a luxury I appreciate, believe me. It may be because I still believe that one day some small person will be serving me inedible breakfast way too early on a Sunday morning when I'd really prefer to sleep in.

Not that I slept in today. I stood fidgeting at the front of a waiting room packed with bleary-eyed women, trying valiantly to quash a crazy urge to yodel, "Happy Mother's Day, my barren pals!"

Wherever I go, I'm pretty much the life of the party.

For whatever reason, Mother's Day is not particularly painful for me. So for once I won't dwell on myself and my own longing to be a mother. For just a moment I'd like to celebrate my own mother. This story will tell you most of what you need to know about her:

My older brother and I both have poor vision. When he was six, the start of first grade coincided with his need to wear an eyepatch to strengthen the muscles in his uncovered eye. And we're not talking about a dashing pirate's eyepatch — this patch looked like a giant flesh-colored Band-Aid worn over the entire eye socket.

A child with charisma might have survived the savage teasing that was sure to ensue. I am not sure my brother, who already had three strikes against him in the form of plaid pants, thick glasses, and an extremely dorky first name, would have made it through intact had it not been for our mother.

Did she ask the teacher to punish any kids who laughed? Did she tell my brother to grin and bear it? Did she allow him to wear the eyepatch only at home to salvage his fragile sense of self-esteem?

No. She went to the drugstore and bought four boxes of eyepatches so that every kid in my brother's first-grade class could wear an eyepatch, too.

I want to be a parent myself largely because of what she's taught me about making children strong and happy. I couldn't hope for a better example.

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