Sunday is a moment when those whose mothers raised us to be responsible adults (or merely allowed us to live long enough to hand the job to someone else) can express our gratitude and/or apologies for what we put them through.
I’m grateful to my mom for giving me life. Virtually all the good things I’ve experienced in the past seven decades required me to be alive. So did the bad things, but I’m willing to concede that one was worth the other.
In an effort to keep life from disposing of me, my mother gave me a lot of advice. Being the sort of son I was, I ignored most of it. Who really cares if you eat with your elbows on the table or run around outside in just your socks?
Eventually, I came around on several points — specifically when she said to stop taking ...
• Stuff that doesn’t belong to you.
• Girlfriends into your bedroom.
Either personally or vicariously, Mom had experienced the negative effects of these behaviors and therefore knew what she was talking about. A day rarely passes that I’m not grateful for her harping at me when I was too stupid to know better.
Note: I’m still too stupid to know better, but you can’t blame that on her. I blame it on genetics and a poor choice of friends.
Mom did not always give good advice. Maybe it’s because she’s a girl, and I’m a guy. Some things don’t translate well filtered through a Y chromosome.
For example, “Bobby, I want you to stop exploding things in the backyard.”
Please. With the exception of Native Americans watching rowboats coming ashore from European sailing ships, and someone suggesting, “Let’s not kill them right off. Maybe they’ll be OK,” telling a 9-year-old boy to stop playing with explosives is perhaps the most useless counsel anyone has ever offered.
At least Mom learned and was able to adjust her advice accordingly. Telling me that throwing fish grenades (firecracker inserted into long dead carp) at my sister would have adverse effects were the Old Man to find out about it actually worked.
Y chromosomes understand that “violence never solves anything” is moronic advice. The mere threat of it has solved any number of problems.
This brings me to the other mother in my life — the mother of my children. This is her day as well. With the possible exception of my own mom, no other woman has put so much effort into giving me good advice.
“Perhaps I should handle the money,” my wife said, shortly after we got engaged and she discovered that my savings account was a hundred dollars in bills and change under the front seat of my car.
I was so infatuated by a woman willing to maintain eye contact with me for longer than a couple of seconds, that I readily agreed. For more than 40 years, she has kept the books and a respectable credit score.
Turned out to be the best advice I ever got, including, “Robert, I don’t think we should buy another TV until you stop shooting guns in the house.”
Best of all, my wife gave me the best advice on how to be a father — like the time she said, “If you think something is a great idea, I don’t want our kids involved.”
Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers in my life. I know exactly where I would be without you.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.