Pay homage to that nice lady who raised you by ditching an outdated label
By Daniel Meltzer
Forget about Baby Jane, what ever happened to Mother?
Who, under the age of 70, refers to his or her female parent as “mother” any more? Why, then, do we still call it “Mother’s Day” when they are now called “moms?”
The word “mother,” in fact, could be just a year or two away from being banned from broadcast radio and TV. A few years ago a headliner comic hit pay-dirt with this one: “My kid just said his first half word: ‘Mother-.’” Where I live, you call someone a “mother” and you’d better be fast of foot or be wearing a bulletproof vest.
Today, when you call that nice lady who raised you “mom,” what comes to mind? Flannel pajamas, homemade soups, hugs, fresh-made oatmeal waiting for you when you wake up, apple pie, home, hearth, sweet-scented laundry. A mom is someone you love, who would throw herself off an Alp for you. A “mother” is someone you hate, isn’t necessarily a parent at all, isn’t even female and who you would throw in front of the A-train. He’s your boss, he’s that “mother” who stole your parking space, the guy who got the co-op you wanted, grabbed the last gotta-have-it CD from the rack, cut you off on the LIE, took home that gorgeous woman (or guy) you drooled over at a party (or your wife), dinged your fender.
While we’re at it, your “dad” is that wonderful guy who taught you how to throw a ball, ride a bike and at least tried to give you that talk about the hummingbirds and the bumblebees, but more likely bumbled his way through it. A “father,” on the other hand, might be the man in the long black skirt who touched you naughty at Sunday school. Why, therefore, are you still calling it “Father’s Day” when he’s not your “father,” he’s your “dad.” Is “father” en route to becoming a dirty word also?
Is it a Freudian thing? Is it because “mothering” is just one letter away from “smothering?”
What ever happened to the Smothers Brothers? Did it start with them way back in the ’60s and their signature line: “Mom always liked you best”? Did Saddam Hussein taint her forever when he predicted that the Gulf War (which didn’t even last as long as a Broadway turkey) would be “the mother of all wars”?
Blame the media. Everything else seems to be their fault these days. And, come to think of it, why are the media (of which there are legion) referred to, even in the fastidiously fact-checking New York Times of all places, in the singular? Radio is a communications medium, so is television, newspapers and magazines; even though each of the latter is plural, each is a single medium of communication. “Media” is the plural of “medium.” Got it? Jeesh! So, it’s not “The media is…,”dummy, it’s, “The media are…”
But back to our poor, hardworking, never (or ever, take your pick) complaining mothers. Would Alan Sherman’s classic hit single “Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda, here I am at Camp Granada” make it to the charts today? Would you download “Hiya Mom, Hiya Dad, I’m at camp and it’s real bad?”
Every dog has his day, the saying goes. So why don’t we give all those “mothers” a rest and let mom have hers.
Daniel Meltzer is a playwright and O. Henry and Pushcart Prize-winning fiction writer. His most recent production was A Cable from Gibraltar at Medicine Show Theatre in Manhattan.
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