We don’t need Big Brother — we just need our mother…

I know that when I got a DUI a few years ago, it wasn’t the state’s guns or pickpockets that scared me; it wasn’t the ostracism from my community; it wasn’t the wrath of my heavy-fisted father. It was telling my mother.

Whether it made her frustrated, or made her cry, or just mad, that was punishment enough for me. That’s all the motivation I needed to improve myself — not the fines, prohibitions, scoldings, mentions in the paper, nothing else. After she put her head in her hands for a moment, she looked up at me, and asked me where I planned to live until I found an apartment near my job. I told her I already had a place lined up, and she offered to get me to work for the few weeks until I could move in.

I’ll never forget those frosty 4 a.m. mornings, sitting in the driver’s seat of my Scion, starting up the car, getting out, and staring up at Orion. I got into the unfamiliar passenger seat as my mom shuffled out of the house into the cold to drive my warm car down the highway.

It’s your mother who brought you into the world — she may have even brought you to work a few times. It’s the state that takes everything away from you. We live in a country where the $20 my grandma tosses me at Christmas covers my gas for the week. Thanks, Nana! I know my mom still fights to give her kids everything the state takes, to this day, even if she doesn’t realize who the thief is. Most frustrations in young people’s lives come from financial obligations made worse by government policies: that whole college price-inflation ending in minimum-wage part-time jobs and moving back home thing, y’know… My mom’s home has always been a place to get good food, a bed, and endless geeking out on the big couch in the living room over Katherine Hepburn and Gary Cooper films.

Having a family with a strong matriarch is important for growing up, as well as growing old. Abigail Adams wrote once, “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen and philosophers, we should have learned women.” Your hero, statesman, and philosopher is sitting right there next to you in the living room — whether it’s your mother, your grandmother, or I sure hope, your great-grandmother, God bless her, while she shakes with her feeble fingers, another Virginia Slim out of her purse. Flicker that light, son, what are you, dumb? Gran-mère has stories to tell…

One can argue that the state leads us back to our mothers and family life, as kids inevitably move back home and live there until they’re 30, or like some people, until death. But that’s missing the point. There need not be a state to do such a thing in the first place — and the outcome would be so much better!

Today, it begins at a young age. When you need your parents the most, the state whisks you away in the friendly yellow bus, and puts you in a room called “school.” Here you’re taught to obey government orders without thinking (it’s called “Behaviorism”). If you grow up to be well-behaved enough, you’ll join the army and fight the state’s wars (it’s called “Military-Industrial-Complex”). If not, you’ll work hard at a job that doesn’t quite pay enough to put a dent in your student loans — but you’ll pay the state’s income tax, so that’s A-OK (it’s called “Legalized Theft”). You’ll move far away for money, missing out on family events year after year, becoming ever more distant. Maybe you’ll work for the government, itself, and become a boring, shuffling, flubby, zombie bureaucrat who is all but dead inside. Your idea of a good time is chives in the package of cream cheese that came with the bagel you bought during your lunchtime powerwalk to Dunkin’ Donuts. Gross.

Maybe when you’re forty and can “afford” a mortgage you can’t afford, you’ll move out of your parent’s house. By this point, you’ll all hate each other and when your mom is old and weak, you’ll stuff her in a retirement home and be done with it. But you’ll bring the kids by every other week for backgammon and brunch. Or cell phones and kind bars.

It didn’t have to be this way. Instead of trying to convince you we should change the past — that I have some magic plan to make the country’s youth be able to read Greek and Latin and Common Sense, like kids could in 1776, then take over the farm and make room for Mom in the guest bedroom, so she can make everyone crépes every morning! yum! — let’s just be proactive and think about the future. Y’know, like next Sunday. There won’t be crépes.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 10th. Visit her, or write her a letter, email, or leave her the best voicemail you can possibly come up with, if you can’t talk to her in person. She chose to keep you, give birth to you, raise you, and let you spit up on everything, and draw on everything else. Odds are, she’s still putting up with you. Thank her!

The history of Mother’s Day is interesting, as it was founded by the daughter of a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. She called it Mother’s Day (with that apostrophe!), to emphasize the admiration one has for one’s own mother. It was an individualist holiday. As a holiday tradition, people could write letters of appreciation to THEIR mother. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill making “Mothers Day” a national holiday, and before long, the original message of the holiday was lost. It became collectivist and corporate. Cards, flowers — all that nonsense — became the routine. The woman who founded the holiday renounced the whole thing!

So by simply practicing Mother’s Day in its original intention, you are rebelling against the state and all the big corporations that rely on it.

Now, I know sometimes moms will say things to kids such as “You did what???!!!!” then get all flustered because you flipped a bike over a street curb into a river or something and lived to tell an awesome tale. It’s pretty easy to say, “Hey mom, that stuff we do isn’t half as bad as what you did at our age!” (Ask your aunts and uncles all about it!) It’s more important, I think, to simply live by example, and your moms will come around to your crazy lifestyle choices.

Unlike governments, moms can come around to new ideas. One night when I was 18, I announced that I would be driving from New Hampshire all the way to Washington state in my crappy old Le Baron, and that I would be leaving that night. My mom was very worried, but my dad said have fun. I rode off into the west. Her heart still flutters when she tells the tale of my head gasket blowing up in the Rockies, but today, she knows I can handle extreme situations, and that I get my cool head from her.

Here’s something to consider: Does the state look out for you like your mom does? Does the state cook too much food so you can take some home with you? Does the state see a nice coat you’d like on sale and snag it, just because? Did the state read your short stories you wrote as a kid and tell you what was good and what needed work, and inspire you to keep doing what you loved — but also make sure you wiped the dust off the baseboards after you vacuumed?

The state trains its contituents to fear the sergeant hat, the teacher’s ruler, the sound of the bell, and blue lights. Then it takes whatever it can get when no one’s looking. And for that, everyone is frustrated, but no one knows where to look.

I say we look to our moms for the future of discipline and “authority.”

The kind of authority a mother commands is different. It is truly loving, and demands excellence — but never takes a thing. And for that, I find myself trying my hardest to make my mama proud of me.

Happy Mother’s Day, out there!