On The One Hand, I hate Mother's Day.
On The Other Hand, I Don't Hate Mother's Day.
But On Both Hands, I Love Moms.
I donít think I would hate Motherís Day so much if it werenít for the consumerism that surrounds it. Iím not exactly sure of the precise date that the ads start. I think itís as soon as Easter is over the same way ďValentineís Day seasonĒ begins before weíve had the chance to recover from our New Yearís hangover. Whatever the date, sometime in spring Motherís Day begins its assault upon me and I hate it.
Itís not that the commodification of child-parent love which occurs for Motherís Day is any more offensive than the same which occurs for romantic love in February because the commercialization of any of that stuff is gross. But itís easy to ignore. One doesnít have to spend money on niche products specifically packaged and marketed for the celebration of a sacred relationship. For Fatherís Day, my siblings and I usually just make my dad a ridiculous feast. We have to eat anyway, we just step up our game as a gesture of thanks. In other words, Hallmark holidays need not bother anyone with an imagination. They may be made up but that doesnít mean theyíre all bad. (Except Sweetest Day. That one is bullshit.) And I donít begrudge the flower, greeting card, candy, or whatever industries for trying to hustle a dollar from less discriminating consumers.
Instead, it is the fact that I am mother-less which makes me hate the tidal wave of gooey advertisements and store displays that come along with the nice weather. I lost my mother when I was 21 but I still had my paternal grandmother to lavish with love until she died a few years later. It didnít bother me the first year that I didnít ďneedĒ to celebrate it, or at least I didnít recognize it. The second year, while wildly drunk and out to dinner with friends the night before I surprised myself by proclaiming, ďI fucking hate Motherís Day.Ē
It isnít just being without any mothers but that my relationship with my mother was extremely complicated. I hadnít seen her at all for the 3+ years that immediately preceded her death. So instead of feeling a longing for a person I love and miss as one who has lost their mother might be expected to feel, I find myself in a sea of conflicting emotions - the aforementioned longing is there, but so is resentment and anger and confusion and ambiguous, difficult to describe feelings which the English language doesnít have the words for but maybe Finnish or Basque or German does. The anniversaries of her death and the last time I saw her are enough - does advertising really need to bring it on too?
I donít want to sound like a grinch though. Iíve been dude-less for 70.5882% of Valentineís Days since the first time I was old enough to give a shit about such things but I stopped caring before I could drive. In fact, I love Valentineís Day. I have tons of people in my life who I love and who love me back and I just love to be a big mush-mush and tell them so on V-Day. Iíve also come to associate it with female empowerment thanks to Eve Ensler.
Whether or not you can compare the two holidays or reasons for disliking them, I hate to think of anyone out there feeling really miserable today. I was once shocked when I asked a girlfriend what she had done the weekend before (Valentineís weekend), ďSmoked a pack of menthols and watched romantic comedies by myself.Ē This was one of my most fun and fabulous friends. (She still is.) I couldnít believe she subjected herself to an evening of lonely self loathing because of a holiday. If Iíd had any idea of her plans, I would have gone to her house to kidnap her for the night. My other gal pals and I had gone to an awesome singles party that year - there was a band and everything! So much fun! Why hadnít she even attempted to enjoy it?
And so, for those of you out there who may also hate Motherís Day - for whatever reason, painful or superficial - I donít want you to wallow in sadness, mourning or general nastiness. There may not be an analogous party like the one I mentioned but there has to be a way to view this day with positivity. Your mothers, if you havenít noticed I include grammas in here hence the plural ďmothersĒ, may be gone or forgotten but the very existence of mothers is something to celebrate beyond the obvious fact you wouldnít be alive without one.
We all know that giving birth is essentially the most painful thing ever only comparable, perhaps, to having a limb removed on a Nineteenth Century battlefield with nothing but a sip of whiskey to mask the pain. But did you realize how ridiculously miserable pregnancy is?
It wasnít until my peers began to have families that I learned the awful truth the previous generations somehow failed to mention - it is stupid, crazy, awful being pregnant! Morning sickness isnít just in the morning. And it can last for months. Imagine vomiting all the time for weeks on end. Oh youíve had a child? I guess you donít need to imagine. Not to mention all of the other crazy stuff like gestational diabetes. A friend of mine had to have a root canal (also pretty high up on the list of unpleasant experiences) because pregnancy changed the pH of her saliva and caused all sorts of trouble for her teeth. I propose that the next time you run into a pregnant woman, you donít comment on the size of her belly but shake her hand for being a warrior princess.
Then after the birth, the unpleasantness of which I wonít delve into, thereís the lack of sleep. The complete body change. The financial burden. And just generally being a slave to this tiny person - to say nothing of the horrors which they will be subjected to in the teenage years.
I love moms. I hate hating Motherís Day. So while you may not have a relationship with your mother, have no desire to have children nor have any friends with children, mothers are still something worthy of some respect and admiration - like Olympic athletes or PhD students. There has to be someone you know who is doing a great job being an awesome parent - if youíve observed it, let it be known and feel a little bit better about the world knowing that theyíre out there.
I may be mother-less for the time being but I really do love all of you moms I know. And I may not hate this holiday forever. I hope to have a kickass mother-in-law someday. And hopefully Iíll be a mom too someday. (And when I am, Iíll be coming to you for advice.) But even if that doesnít pan out, I respect and admire you ladies.
So Happy Motherís Day - one and all. Your kids may not have any idea how lucky they are to be able to celebrate it with you but I do and if you keep doing what youíre doing, your kids will eventually understand the significance of this day and everything you done, do and will do for them.
Authorís Note: The friends I was dining with when I proclaimed my hatred for Motherís Day responded by welcoming me to join their Motherís Day celebrations. Four of them called me and individually invited me. I accepted the first invitation and helped hostess a brunch with a friend whose family I was already close with and felt overwhelmed with love to have the extra options. I was there the following two years and would probably be there right now if I wasnít living abroad. I hate the weeks before the second Sunday in May but found a way to enjoy the day itself.
It wouldnít have occurred to them to invite me if I hadnít said anything. I hadnít planned on announcing it, I was somewhat startled when I said it too but I suggest speaking up. Just get a group of close friends together at a cheap but fantastic sushi restaurant where the sake is also reasonably priced and make your announcement while totally shitfaced. I wasnít fishing for invitations when it happened but no one will know that you are.
If all else fails - remember that once the day is over, the ads are gone for another year.