I didn’t expect a lot on Mother’s Day. When my my 16-year-old got up at noon and uttered a groggy “Happy Mother’s Day,” I figured that was it—until I made the mistake of opening the envelope from his school. It contained the grades that were far worse than he’d led me to believe. This is an old battle between us, but as college looms, and his hormones rage, we’ve both become more intense. Our voices were loud. His became a scream in fact, as he wanted to slam the door or hit the wall and instead just yelled, as though he were being water-boarded. Then came a soft knock at the door. I opened it. Two policemen, one policewoman, and a county sheriff eyed me warily. It seems the tennis players in the park behind our house thought our voices were worthy of a call to 911. I was confused and vaguely wondered if it had become illegal to argue in your home. Then I thought: this is Mother’s Day! My Mother’s Day!
The cops left quickly, after giving each of us our separate lectures. But as the door closed, I felt something had broken in me. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was fragile, like the hand-blown glass figurines that used to dazzle me as a child or the precious cobalt Christmas orb my great grandmother had carried carefully from Germany many years ago. What broke was something delicate and deep. Maybe it was just the idea that I’m not the kind of person who draws cops to her house on Mother’s Day. Maybe it was the idea that my son and I are not those people.
But now we were.
There’s an old Chinese story about a farmer who buys a beautiful stallion; then his son falls off the horse and breaks his leg. “How tragic!” exclaim the neighbors. The farmer shrugs: “Maybe not, maybe so.” The next day the king’s soldiers come to town and conscript every able-bodied man to fight their war, leaving behind only the farmer’s son with his broken leg. “How wonderful!” exclaim the neighbors. Again the farmer shrugs: “Maybe not, maybe so.”
The day after Mother’s Day, my son and I could laugh at our experience. We were also chastened and changed. As the “authorities,” cops are ruled by Saturn. Saturn was squaring my son’s Ascendant that Sunday and he got his Saturn lesson. He is now treating me with more respect, acting more mature, and catching his teenaginess more quickly. Saturn was also quincunx my Mercury and I’ve adjusted my thoughts about parenting. I’m now firmer, more Saturn-like, which may in the long run be the better gift to give my son. So perhaps it was a fine Mother’s Day after all, I say. Then I shrug: Maybe not, maybe so.