When I was a kid I once complained about Mothers Day to my mother (that’s her above, sipping coffee the day before I was born – draw whatever conclusions you like about my high-strung nature – in her short shorts and nautical stripes, proving fashion really does come in cycles). I thought it was unfair. There is Mothers Day and Fathers Day; I thought there should be a Kids Day, too. She promptly and quite sternly informed me that everyday was kids day. That tells you 1) a lot about the kind of kid I was and 2) a lot about the kind of mom I have.
I was the kind of kid who was really quite extraordinarily self-centered. Perhaps as all children are. Or, at least, perhaps as all first-born children who aren’t put to work as soon as they can walk as they were in the oldey-timey days tend to be. I sort of, semi grew out of it (a little bit?). I was also the kind of kid who mainly saw black and white; fair and unfair. Any whiff of unfairness enraged me. I could get myself worked up into quite a lather over the principle of the matter, even — or, rather, especially — as a child.
And my mom? She’s the kind of mom who is fun and nice enough so that you think to tell her that you think there should be a Kids Day. She is also hard-core enough to shut that nonsense down.
I see gray better than I ever used to, but it still isn’t my very best skill. On the subject of Mothers Day my assessment has shifted, but not as one might think considering that I am a mother.
I think Mothers Day is bunk. Pure and simple. It seems, much like Valentine’s Day, designed to make a whole lot of people feel bad and to sell a bunch of crap. But it makes other people happy, you may well argue. I don’t know, I guess. My sense it that if a mom doesn’t feel loved and appreciated in a general sense, a day of wilting flowers, burnt pancakes, or overpriced hotel brunches isn’t going to do much… and if it does, well, I find that sad.
So this Mothers Day I have a few hopes and dreams:
- I hope my friend who seems to – despite being told the full and unadulterated story of motherhood from many reliable sources – really, really want a child feels bright and hopeful today because when she has that child she will be the most awesomest mom ever. I also hope she will call me many, many times to say “oh, this is what you were talking about.”
- I hope my friend whose mother died an untimely and extra-sad death (yes, there are such things) knows what a kick-ass mom and friend she had become and enjoys an extra bite of dim sum for me today.
- I hope anyone who might have reason to feel less than joyful about Mothers Day can go to a movie or take a drive or somehow bury their head in the sand because the second Sunday of May comes around every single year.
- I hope my mom reads this and sees how much gray she has taught me to see, because I will call and cheerfully wish her a happy Mothers Day, plain and simple, no soapbox involved.
- I hope my mother-in-law enjoys her day with son and grandson; their temporary absence is really the best gift a mom with young kid(s) at home could ask for.
- I hope my son reads this someday and realizes that the degree to which I oohed and aahed over his mothers day cards and trinkets and pretended like the day meant something to me was in full and complete reflection of his own excitement at having a chance to make me feel special.
That’s what being a mother really teaches you about Mothers Day: just like all the other days, it’s about the kids. If he wants to sew up a felt pillow at school and write “I Love You Mama” in sharpie on it and wrap it in tissue paper and hand it to me with a brilliant smile on his face, jumping up and down with excitement, I’m not going to tell him Mothers Day is bunk. I’m not a monster. I’m going to smile and tell him I love it. And, amazingly to me, I’m going to mean it.