Tangent: My original title was, “Why I Hate Mother’s Day,” but if you have small children, you know the word “hate” is frowned upon, and sometimes outright banned, starting in preschool. Part of me has an issue with banning a word like hate, which I think comes in handy sometimes, even when you are five. However, to minimize visits to the principal’s office, I’ve resorted to the tongue-in-cheek “strongly disklike” because, well, I’m weird like that.
Anyway, Mother’s Day is upon us again, much to my dismay. I’ve always suspected Mother’s Day was a made-up holiday, even when I was too small to understand about Hallmark and FTD. The idea of showing gratitude to your mother is, in theory, a very nice idea. However, there’s something about having a day set aside for it that leads to unrealistic expectations, resentment and a whole lot of discord.
I’m sure we must have had a good Mother’s Day at some point in my 17 years with a mother. The ones I remember, however, were not. There was an underlying current that whatever we did, it was not quite enough. We were not behaving well enough. We were not expressing enough gratitude. Whatever it was, it was clear we did not have enough of it.
Mother’s Day usually involved going to church, where all the mothers got a flower, then going out to brunch. There were probably homemade cards and some awkward-looking school art projects. Then we all came home and went our separate ways.
Then there was the Mother’s Day where I was 14 and hormonal and exhausted and I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO CHURCH, thank you very much. I WANTED TO STAY IN BED AND SLEEP. And I WAS SO UNGRATEFUL, I COULDN’T EVEN BE REASONABLE AND GO TO CHURCH ON MOTHER’S DAY. Good times. (Not proud of myself, by the way. Just realistic about what it’s like to be 14.)
Of course, nothing could top the very last Mother’s Day with my mother, who died the next day. Then the years followed where Mother’s Day was an emotional punch in the gut until finally enough time passed where I could just ignore it.
But then I had children, and Mother’s Day in the intervening years became even more firmly entrenched in our society. This year brought no less than four Mother’s Day gifts from two children’s very creative teachers as well as a Mother’s Day tea at one school.
The day itself, however, feels like a repeat from years past. When charming children present Mom with cute, handmade gifts. And things are okay for about an hour, until the squabbling starts. And Mom starts getting tired of the squabbling and everyone starts feeling resentful of the need to stop squabbling, when if this was just a normal day, there probably wouldn’t be quite as much squabbling because there wouldn’t be this PRESSURE to not squabble and BE GRATEFUL to the person who gave you life.
So at the end of the day, everyone is mad at each other because nobody really likes being forced to feel grateful and the person who is supposed to be honored by this tradition feels resentful instead of loved. When really, if we just left well enough alone, it would have been a fine day after all.
Yes, I’m pretty sure my mother is laughing wherever she is. Because I’m not there yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got a Mother’s Day argument with a teenager coming to me.