Los Dias de las Madres

Praise the Mamas, but for kids' sake, don't forget the Papas.

Today, May Tenth, is Mexican Mother's Day. Well, actually, it's Mother's Day in Mexico. There's a difference; I know this because every year we send flowers to my wife's mom, who was born in Mexico. She's a great mother; she loves Ana and her grandkids, but she has never quite warmed to the thought of her daughter marrying a gabacho. Or at least this particular gabacho.

I have to give the lady credit. She was always selective in her displeasure. It wasn't that I was a basketball player; it was that I was so short I had to play point guard. It wasn't that I was from the ghetto; it was that I refused to go back to the ghetto. Ana and I have been married almost 23 years, but I think her mom's still holding out hope for an annulment and then a rebound hookup with that Vicente Fox guy. It's not that he's the President of Mexico. It's that he's a really tall president of Mexico.

I give my wife stuff on both May 10 and on traditional American Mother's Day, the second Sunday in May. And I'm even careful to give her two separate things when May 10 lands on that second Sunday. I don't want to get that look like you get from a kid whose birthday is December 24 and you give him One Big Gift.

Ana's a great mother and she doesn't get nearly enough credit, mostly because I hog all of it. I've been named Father of the Year a few times by different organizations, but in reality it's only because Ana works so hard that I get to stay home with the kids and pretend to be a writer.

I called my own Mom the other day to chat because I didn't know if she'd be at home on Mother's Day, Mexican or otherwise. When I said "Hi," her response was, "You've been eating fried chicken! I can tell! I thought you gave it up for Lent."

"Dude, Easter was weeks ago," I shot back, wondering how she knew.

"You couldn't wait until Pentecost to go back to your bad eating habits?"

"Are you kiddin' me? I choose which church to go to on Easter Sunday based on its proximity to Popeye's."

My Mom turns 80 this year and she's the second youngest of eight surviving siblings. My Aunt Lucia is 97 and my Uncle Levino isn't far behind; my Uncle Nick DiMarco died a couple years ago at age 94. I swear it's the olive oil and garlic. These people put that stuff on their cereal.

Before I had the chance to shift the conversation to something non-explosive, my Mom asked, "So, why do you hate women?"


"You were raised by a nice mother, you've got six sisters, you're married to a wonderful woman, and you coach girls sports. Why the hatred?"

Against my better judgment, I asked what she was talking about. She said, "I read all the hate mail you get in The Weekly." (Yet another reason to despise the Internet.)

Do you even read the articles I write? "No, I'm busy. I just read the letters. And they must be true. A newspaper wouldn't print them if they weren't true."

The poor woman was born under Mussolini. She's not big on questioning authority.

I explained to her that the letters were in response to something I had written about how a handful of man-hating Hollywood actresses have decreed that children no longer need fathers. They think they can use their financial resources to distract the poor kid for 18 years or so into not realizing that he has no daddy. All he's got is an absentee mom and a Central American nanny. (I paraphrased.)

She was silent for a full, record-breaking 5.8 seconds, meaning that she agreed with me, but wasn't about to say so out loud. I told her that I got a lot of letters supporting my position, but they're not nearly as much fun as hate mail, so they never get printed.

One woman even sent me a clipping of a column that appeared in Parade magazine a few Sundays ago. It was a column by that woman, Marilyn vos Savant, who is billed as having the highest IQ in the world. If she's so smart, how come she's got such a dumb name?

Anyway, this World's Smartest Woman had applauded intentionally single mothers in a previous column and had received all kinds of mail about it. So she goes through this big old long explanation of her position and finally concludes that if a woman makes enough money, then the kid won't need a dad. Well, that settles that.

Two hundred and forty-eight IQ and not a lick of sense.

Anyway, I still think the actions of Camryn Manheim and Jodie Foster and all the rest of the women who bring fatherless children into the world as toys or hobbies or trophies are reprehensible and I'm not going to stop saying so just because people bitch at me. But for today and on Sunday, I'll take a break. In honor of all the great mothers I know--my candidate-for-sainthood wife, Ana; mi suegra Ana Maria Gutierrez; my mom, Teresa Marie DiMarco Danehy; and one mother I never got to know, my grandma, Justina Vicoli DiMarco, who died in childbirth with her twelfth child--I'll wish all mothers everywhere a Happy Mother's Day.

But at the same time I'd really like to know what Foster and Manheim, et. al., are going to do five weeks from now on Father's Day. What do you do, lock the kids in a closet for 24 hours? Show them a picture of a test tube. Hey, I've got it. Just tell your kids their dad is David Crosby. Maybe that way you'll have a chance of convincing them they're better off this way.