TO MOTHER, WITH LOVE : Many events are scheduled to make the day special for that very special woman.

I always thought Mother's Day was a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make money between Easter and Memorial Day.

But this year, after 26 hours of labor and seven months of sleepless nights, I can be heard reminding my husband that Mother's Day is Sunday and dropping hints that he should be prepared to celebrate it.

I'm not talking about flowers or a card. Any mom who has put in time changing diapers, helping with homework or comforting hearts broken by first love, deserves to be spoiled and should mark Mother's Day any way she chooses. That means one mother may dress herself and her offspring in identical spring outfits and parade proudly down Main Street, claiming a place among motherhood's venerable ranks. Another mother may shirk duty, deny her identity and claim five consecutive hours away from children of any shape or size.

So, South Bay mothers, collect those cards and carnations, enjoy breakfast in bed or brunch in the park, slip on your best high heels or kick off your shoes. For those of you seeking suggestions on how to spend the day, here are some options:

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The Torrance-based American Youth Express Song and Dance Company will present a Mother's Day Gala including a cold buffet brunch, fashion show, silent auction and performance beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center.

The silent auction will feature more than 100 items, from a 300-piece comic book collection to champagne gift baskets and hand-carved wood sculpture.

Following the auction, about 2 p.m., the 52-member troupe of youngsters, ages 7 to 18, will present a holiday performance titled "Special People, Special Music" highlighting upbeat music from the 1950s and 1960s spiced with energetic dance routines.

The program opens with appearances by surprise guests and includes an adapted number from the new production of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," said Barbara Scharfman, group founder. More than 30 of the young performers appear in that production playing at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles.

Each mom will be greeted with a long-stemmed flower and a photographer will be on hand for family portraits. The program will help raise funds for the group to tour this summer.

Tickets are $12.50. The center is at 3330 Civic Center Drive. Information: (310) 781-7171.

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In Carson, children who participate in city recreation programs can treat their moms to a free brunch Sunday in four of the city's parks, compliments of the Carson Parks and Recreation Department. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., park staff will help youngsters serve sandwiches or barbecue to the most important women in their lives. Each child will present his or her mom with a flower during a special Mother's Day presentation. The participating parks are Anderson, 19101 Wilmington Ave.; Carson, 21411 S. Orrick Ave.; Del Amo, 703 E. Del Amo Blvd., and Stevenson, 17400 Lysander Drive.

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Moms who feel lucky may want to take advantage of the free admission Sunday at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. Mothers with children and anyone 18 and younger who is accompanied by an adult will be admitted free.

The day will begin at 8 a.m. with complimentary hot chocolate, doughnuts and tours of the stable area. Other activities include the park's carousel and video games, and special holiday appearances by puppets and performing animals.

Mother's Day is the first of four Family Days that have been scheduled this spring and summer at Hollywood Park. Memorial Day on May 31, Father's Day on June 20 and July 18 have also been designated Family Days.

Hollywood Park is at 1050 Prairie Ave. Information: (310) 419-1500.

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