I gave my 5th speech at the end of my first Toastmasters year.  It was exciting because our club was celebrating it’s 25th anniversary and we would be having a party in a different, bigger venue.  I jumped at the chance to do a speech there for the opportunity to have a bigger crowd and to speak out of my comfort zone.

I WISH I had taped myself this time so I could see the differences when I gave that speech 3 years later at a District Final.  Let that be a lesson to all us Toastmasters.  No matter how silly or uncomfortable we feel, RECORDING ourselves so we can see what we did well and what we can do better next time can take months, even years off of our learning curve.

Here is the text of the original speech given on JUNE 14, 2009.  ( Note that it is quite different from the (very poor quality) video that I will post afterwards.  I will also post the text to the May 2012 version for those of you who are hard core.  Many thanks to Chuck Denison for giving me permission to upload my personal performances from his DVD production to my blog.  )

Happy Mother’s Day – given June 14, 2009 Seaside Centre, Sechelt B.C.

I’m a relatively new mother; my only child Meaghan, is not quite 3 so I still have a lot to learn.  I still have most of it to learn I guess.  But Meaghan has managed to teach me a lot so far and many of those lessons come in ways that I could never have guessed.  And once in a while I need one of those frying-pan-over-the-head moments before I really get it.  I’d like to tell you about a recent encounter with the frying pan.    

 Mother’s Day was approaching and it was the first one where, if prompted and helped by her dad, Meaghan could have actually made something for her expectant mother.  And since I am a stay-at-home mom of a very strong willed child, I was feeling quite deserving of some serious recognition of my hard work and sacrifice. 

 Well, that magical Sunday rolled around but I knew from the lack of activity the day before that nobody in the Howley household had remembered Mother’s Day except the mother.

 At the breakfast table I tossed around some hints.

“It’s a beautiful special May day isn’t it?”

“I think I’ll call my mother later.”

 My remarks echoed in the room, eliciting a vague “uh-huh” over the din of the Rice Krispies. 

 I became resentful.  How could they have forgotten me?  How DARE they forget Mother’s Day!!! 

 Resigned to self-righteous indignation for the remainder of the day I got ready for Church where someone (our priest) finally wished me a Happy Mother’s Day.  I turned to my husband Lloyd with a triumphant smirk on my face. 

 “At least somebody remembered Mother’s Day.” 

“Hey, you’re not MY mother.”  he said.

“Well I’m the mother of your child, who is not old enough to know it’s Mother’s Day unless somebody tells her!”

Disgusted, I dropped the subject.

 After Mass, the Church had a big Mother’s Day cake.  And it’s a medically proven fact that cake eases the pain of rejection.  So, I indulged and shared war stories with the other forgotten mothers. 

 When we were ready to leave I announced that since it was Mother’s Day, I had no intention of cooking and was ready to be taken out for lunch and that maybe that would begin to make up for my family’s lack of recognition of my valuable work. 

 So off we went for Chinese food and it did help a little.  At least I didn’t have to do any dishes.

 Much later that day after supper when I announced to Meaghan that it was almost her bedtime, she announced to me that she had a sore tummy.  She had recently discovered the power of illness and injury and had frequently been complaining of various sore body parts. 

 I attempted to convey the story of the boy who cried wolf to her….but she’s TWO. 

 This was one of those times when I wasn’t sure if she was faking it or not so I told her to lie down on the couch and that I would rub her tummy.  Now the massive protrusion of her belly should have been a red flag to me but only having a couple years under my belt, it didn’t really register. 

  My little girl fell fast asleep in less than 5 minutes and I picked her up and carried her to bed.  I was excited at having a little extra free time for myself that night. 

I filled a bath for myself planning on early retirement when I heard a bizarre sound coming from Meaghan’s room.  My mother’s alarm went off and I ran into her room just in time to see her turn her vomit in her sleep. 

 I picked her up and rushed to the bathroom.  As I did this, she showered me with all the meals of the day, right back to the cake at Church that morning.  I could see the icing.  She continued to retch, trying to catch her breath and crying between bouts of sickness.  Completely drained and helpless and very frightened. 

 “Ma ma ma ma ma ma…” she rocked and cried this monotonously, a primal chant seeking comfort.  And all I could do was hold her and talk to her while she emptied her stomach over and over.

  It wasn’t until later that night (and it was a very long night for both of us) that I realized that I had after all been given an incredible gift for Mother’s Day.  It was the epiphany that it wasn’t about me.  It was about HER.  SHE was my gift.  She was the one that had MADE me a mother.  And only I, her mother, was able to comfort her in her distress

  “Ma ma ma ma ma ma.”

 I’ll never forget that chant.  It moved me as deeply as the place it came from in her.  It moved me so far that I was able to stand in another place and see with different eyes and thank God that I was able to be there to be showered in vomit for Mother’s Day.   

 By the way, Lloyd cleaned up the entire mess.  Happy Mother’s Day indeed.

HERE’S THE VIDEO TO THAT SPEECH, DONE 3 YEARS LATER AT DISTRICT FINALS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAe3FekW9NQ&feature=plcp

Some interesting differences eh?  Note the change of restaraunts?  McDonald’s was way funnier than Chinese food. I went for the laugh, keeping the point the same.  Many-time Distric 21 finalist Alan Warburton says “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!”  LOL!  I agree!

Happy Mother’s Day delivered May 12, 2012 Harrison Hot Springs

Have you ever waited for a gift that never came?      Or maybe it came in a form that you weren’t expecting.      We all have certain expectations in our lives but sometimes that’s worst thing we can do to ourselves.  Because the truth is, life often has gifts for us that far surpass what we expect for ourselves.  Fellow Toastmasters, honoured guests and judges, I’d like to tell you about a gift that came for me in a totally unexpected way. 

It was 2009 and Mother’s Day was approaching.  It was also the first one where, if prompted and helped by her dad, my 2 year old Meaghan could have made something for her expectant mother.  And being the mom of shall we say a “spirited” child, I felt like I deserved some serious recognition for my hard work and sacrifice . 

Well, that magical Sunday rolled around and I knew from the amount of activity that had gone on the day before that the only person who had remembered Mother’s Day was the mother.

So at the breakfast table I tossed around a few hints.

“I think I’ll call my mother later.”  (pause)

“Honey I think I’ll call your mother later.”  (pause)

“I wonder how the Queen Mother’s doing today.”

My remarks echoed around the room, like a lost hiker’s screams on Grouse Mountain. 

I couldn’t believe it.  I was hurt.  How could they forget Mother’s Day?  I thought mothers were the glue that held society together!  Was I just not sticky anymore?

Resigned to self-righteous indignation for the rest of the day I got ready for Church, where a greeter wished me a Happy Mother’s Day with a carnation.  I turned to my husband Lloyd with a triumphant smirk on my face. 

“At least somebody remembered Mother’s Day.” 

“Hey, you’re not MY mother.”  he said.

“Honey, I’m the mother of your child, and she’s not old enough to know it’s Mother’s Day unless somebody tells her!” 

Disgusted, defeated, and disillusioned, I dropped the subject. 

Luckily, after Mass, the Church sliced up a gargantuan red and white Mother’s Day cake.  And as we all know, it’s a medically proven fact that cake eases the pain of rejection.  So, I indulged and shared war stories with the other forgotten mothers.

When it was time to leave I announced to Lloyd that since it was Mother’s Day I had absolutely NO intention of cooking, and was ready to be taken out for lunch to an establishment that appropriately reflected the amount of time and energy that I put into my family.

So, going through the McDonald’s drive thru wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but all in all, it still beats cooking. 

The day didn’t get any better, but it did get back to normal.  Like that evening when I told Meaghan it was time to get ready for bed – all of a sudden, she’s got a sore tummy.  Like we’ve never seen THAT one before. 

I must admit, however, this was one of those times where I couldn’t tell if she was faking it or not so I told her to lie down on the couch and I would rub her tummy.  She fell asleep in minutes and I picked her up and carried her to bed.

I was making a cup of tea later that night when I heard a bizarre sound coming from Meaghan’s room.  My mother’s alarm finally went off and I ran into her room just in time to see her vomit in her sleep. 

I grabbed her and ran her to the bathroom.  As I did this, she showered me with all the meals of the day, right back to the cake at Church that morning.  I could see the icing. 

She started to cry.  She’d never been sick before and she couldn’t catch her breath.  She was scared.  We were both scared.  Two years old.  She was so little, so helpless, so totally drained.

“Mama mama mama …” she rocked in my arms singing this plaintive primal chant…. looking for comfort.  But all I could do was hold her while she emptied her stomach over and over.

It wasn’t until much later that night that I realized that I had been given a gift for Mother’s Day.  It was the revelation that it wasn’t about me.  It was about her.  Meaghan was my gift.  Without her I wouldn’t BE a mother and my selfish expectations had nearly blinded me to my  life’s most beautiful gift. 

“Mama mama mama…” I’ll never forget that chant.  It moved me as deeply    as the place it came from inside of her.  It moved me so far, that I was finally able to stand in a different place and see with different eyes, and thank God that I was able to be there to be showered in vomit for Mother’s Day.  

By the way, my rotten husband cleaned up the entire mess.  Now there’s a Mother’s Day Gift.