Sunday, May 12, 1996
Let's fill our bleachers with mothers

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Today is Mother's Day, and, of course, it is a big temptation to talk about my own, personal, wonderful mother.

But that would be irresponsible. And probably wasteful. This space should be devoted to weightier matters, such as, football stadiums and older women who say outrageous things to TV reporters.

Or occasionally, I might use this important piece of newspaper real estate to enter into global debates, such as whether the president of the United States and leader of the free world tints his hair. Or whether the brutes of men-only academies should be allowed to continue in their state-supported, testosterone haze.

Or I might enlighten you about the occasional murder. As we all know, good news is no news. And my mother is good news. Big time.

But she doesn't play football or commit crimes or have a famous child, so I'm the only reporter who cares what she has to say. Connie Chung will never hang out in Mom's kitchen. Nor will ESPN. My mother makes it a policy not to inquire too closely into a person's toiletries or testosterone. So I have no excuse whatsoever to devote this space to her. Even if she is the best mother in the Western Hemisphere. And even if it is Mother's Day.

Foul weather fan

However, on the matter of football stadiums, I will say that my mother has sat in her share of bleachers. My brother played ball in high school and college, and she was in the stands every time he put on a uniform. Even if the weather was awful. Even if he never left the bench.

Steven was a tight end, which my mother thought sounded vaguely unpleasant. But, as usual, she did not complain. Even when my brother didn't actually get into the game, she always thought he was the bravest and most handsome boy on the team. The best one. And he knew that she thought so.

My brother Thom has a beautiful singing voice. So my mother has been to many, many amateur musicals and theater productions. And even when my brother was not what you might call the star of the show, she was in the audience. Every time. And she thought that he was the best one.

Then there's me. Yipe!

My poor mother. She endured baton twirling contests and tap dancing recitals and piano musicales. I was the worst one. Always. In big, dramatic, embarrassing ways. I didn't just drop the baton, I lost control so completely that I broke the nose of the girl next to me. And when it came time for the fire baton demonstration, our instructor was heard to observe that we'd "be lucky if Laura doesn't turn us all into charcoal briquettes."

Once during a piano recital, I forgot my sheet music and improvised with a medley of "Blue Moon,"Chopsticks" and "Here Comes Santa Claus." Which, if you ask me, showed a lot more enterprise than bursting into tears and running offstage.

Which is what I might have done if I hadn't known that my mom was in the audience.

Despite the fact that I flubbed just about every public appearance I ever made, my mother never quietly signaled from the audience that we could meet in the car. She always walked right up to me and stuck around for the punch and cookies afterward, so everybody knew that I belonged to her.

The mom solution

She never missed a parent-teacher conference or a chance to make me feel valuable and likeable. She still has the first newspaper article I ever wrote, and the shapeless, shocking-pink dish I made in art class is displayed next to the crystal.

She may not be a murderer or a football player or even president of the United States, but I'll bet that a lot of our problems would begin to sort themselves out if every kid had somebody in the bleachers who thinks he's the best.

Maybe you have your own, personal, wonderful mother. If so, you know what I'm talking about, and you might be thinking that I should have been talking about your mom instead. You may think that she is the best one.

Don't tell me. Tell her.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax to 768-8340. She can be heard on WVXU-FM (91.7 MHz) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.