I found Gloria Sawai’s short story Mother’s Day to be an insightful look into the changes and peculiarities that accompany many children’s transition into adolescence. As the story begins, we are introduced to Norma, an eleven year old girl who seems to be “developed”, both mentally and physically, beyond her years. Drawing from her description about the Saskatchewan weather that surrounded the Mother’s Day weekend, we can tell that she is clearly quite knowledgeable about her geography. We are also able to gather from Nora’s emphasis on the importance of religion that she is rather intelligent and solely in charge of “upholding [her] family in spiritual matters.” While these facts might not seem to be extraordinary, it is safe to say that most eleven year old girls do not know much about effects of seasonal changes or the importance of scripture.
We are first introduced to the awkwardness surrounding Nora’s bodily developments when her mother attempts to apply a healing ‘mustard plaster’ to her bare, developing chest. Nora informs us that as her mother unbuttoned her shirt she became exceedingly embarrassed; so much so she “wished like everything [she] hadn’t gotten sick.” Although her mother makes no mention of the “changes” Nora is experiencing, Nora leads us to believe something else might stem from their encounter. She does not disappoint her audience as she quickly moves into her account of the next mustard plaster treatment, which to her dismay, came at the hands of her father. She recalls crying while her father pressed the spicy compress onto her bare chest. This could clearly be a traumatic experience for a young girl going through the confusing maturation process.
While Nora guides us through her narrative, we quickly learn more and more about how a young girl might deal with the “developments” that come with their transition into adulthood. Although at times awkward, they are able to look past such events in hopes of gaining a better grasp on the development process as a whole. Nora seemed to lash out in a rather harsh manner in response to the awkwardness of her situation, but in the end she realized that without these changes, she would disrupt the natural order of things. At the end of the story she realizes that she fits into a larger scheme that involves the need and importance of women and mothers world wide.