May 7, 1999
By Raoul Lowery Contreras
I didn't know that Mother's Day in Mexico is always on the 10th of May until I observed a group of young Mexican girls and women feting their mothers at a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, some years ago. How much handier a fixed date is for Mother's Day than the catch-as-catch can second Sunday of May is here in the USA.
Rarely does the 10th of May fall on the second Sunday in May, as it almost does this year. Nonetheless, a joint Mother's Day in the US and Mexico does occur, but only for mothers of Mexican-origin, or those who have come to the US recently. So many have come to the US recently that the two Mother's Days are merging more and more.
A couple of years ago, for example, I saw a number of temporary flower stands pop up all over neighborhoods in San Diego that have large Mexican populations. A little early, I thought, for Mother's Day as the stands were up on Monday. Flowers don't last that long, do they, I asked myself. I had forgotten that Wednesday was the 10th, Mexican Mother's Day. So, the record immigration from Mexico had brought Mexican Mother's Day with it to the sunny beaches of San Diego.
Mother's Day along the Border is an adventure anytime. A long time ago when I was working in Mexico at the Tijuana racetrack, to honor my Mother I ordered the track florist to deliver 100-dozen red roses to the Border at 7:00 a.m. He was to deliver them to one of my younger brothers. As the roses had come from the USA to begin with, there was no duty, so U.S. Customs simply looked at the papers and wondered who the lucky Mother might be. At home, my other two brothers were careful in preparing a Queen-like breakfast for our mother and making sure she stayed in bed while the roses were dashing up the freeway.
When the roses arrived, two of the boys placed them in containers throughout the house. May I observe that 1,200 roses are a lot of roses. Certainly, I heard about how many they were later. Eventually, our Mother arose, wondering why I hadn't called from the track to wish her a happy Mother's Day. I was wondering why she hadn't called me yet, but she hadn't seen the roses yet, for we deliberately spread them around the living room, the dining room, and the den and, of all places, the kitchen. The kitchen? Well, the kitchen is a special place in the homes of Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
The trans-border call came to my phone at the track, of course. Mother was happy, my brothers were happy and that all made me happy. The track florist was happy because he was paid by the track. I was happy because I was able to declare the bill on my expense account because my boss also loved his mother.
Not many honor their mothers with a thousand-plus roses and breakfast in bed, but many honor their mothers in many ways, in many places and no matter how they honor mothers, it is never enough, is it? In Mexico, when Mother's Day falls on a business day, offices are empty of people spending time with their mothers, usually at dinners. That doesn't happen here, of course, because it always falls on a Sunday. So brunch is the order of the day.
Here, on the Border, Mothers can have brunch this Sunday and Dinner on Monday. The flower sellers on the streets will double their business. We sons and daughters can relieve our Mother-induced guilt trips (as only we Catholics and our Jewish cousins have) by treating our Mothers with love and respect on this special day, the day to honor Mothers.
But, every day is Mother's Day, isn't it? All you have to do is watch some toddler holding on to mother's hands in a store, or in a park. Watch the child look at his or her mother when he or she asks a question; watch the mother. I do all the time and absorb the interaction of mother and child and marvel at it. Did I, I wonder, hang on my mother's word and hand like I see other children do? Did I cry for my mother when I was hurt? Of course, I did. Didn't you?
We are lucky here on the Border this year with Mother's Day on Sunday and Mexican Mother's Day on Monday. But reality is, for some of us, Mother's Day is every day and that's not enough. They deserve more.
You can reach Contreras at: firstname.lastname@example.org.