Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mother of a Day

I am going to make a statement that is bound to strike my readers as politically incorrect. Even shocking. It is simply this: I hate Mother’s Day. I have hated it for years – even the years before my mother died, but especially afterward. I thought having my own kids would make me like it, but no … not really. I guess I basked in the glow of my first Mother’s Day, but since it was little over a month after giving birth, I pretty much attribute that to a chemical rush of happy hormones. 

It’s probably got a lot to do with expectations. Thinking that just because the calendar says it’s Mother’s Day, our children will not just flood us with cards, gifts and flowers, but will be stricken with some sudden mea culpa moment when they will prostrate themselves at our feet, beg our forgiveness for all the times they tore our hearts out, and promise to strive harder to reach the pinnacle of perfection we expected for them on the day they were born. 

On the flip side, there is the hope – quickly dashed – that our relationship with our own mother will magically be healed by the simple act of bestowing a Hallmark greeting upon her. All the years of tears and disappointments, all the fights and harsh words, instantly erased – abracadabra!  And in my case, where even that slim chance of reconciliation disappeared in the sudden chill of an October night in 1978, the regret over what will never be … assuaged only somewhat by the knowledge that it never really could have been anyway.

So today when everyone is posting pictures of flowers and verses of sweet poetry and trite syrupy sentiments on Facebook, I won’t be participating. All I’m offering is this rather cynical, negative blog post. (You can thank me after you get over the sugar hangover.) It’s not that I do not have any appreciation for the wonderful, difficult, usually unsung job mothers do. I am one, after all. It’s just that I don’t think one day is enough to encompass the joys and the sorrows, the highs and the lows, the intricacies and the ambivalence of how it feels to bear the name “MOM.” 

What’s the answer? Hallmark doesn’t know. 1-800-FLOWERS doesn’t know. And I certainly don’t know.


  1. Great post! Insightful. I always pause and think of those who are without their mothers, or have mothers with whom their relationship is not ideal. I commented on an international relative's wall about it being Mother's day here in the states and another (male) relative commented that "Every day is mother's day in Indonesia. Women do everything and the country would simply grind to a halt without "Mama"..." I think he would agree with you. And I hope you have a good day, just because every day should be good.

  2. Nice. Great job of debunking the Marion Cunningham, June Cleaver and Carol Brady mythology.

    Life is messy - and false expectations of how a family should actually be, powered by consumerism giants like Hallmark, don't help those of us on the front lines feel victorious about achieving the victories we do.

    In my case, a victory might include honest communication without hurt feelings, especially when dealing with my own mother... It doesn't usually end in flowers, or jewelry, or a card. It just ends with everybody being who they are, and not mad at the other party for being who they are.

    LOVE the cartoon too!

    Thanks for this!