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You Don’t Need to Be Childless or Motherless to Dislike Mother’s Day

May 11, 2014

We interrupt our seeming endless bitching about men to bring this important bitchfest about Mother’s Day.

Not about the concept behind it, per se…I’m totally cool with taking a whole day to raise a toast of Bloody Marys, mimosas, or craft beers to appreciate the women who birthed and/or raised us, even though my relationship with my own was…complicated, to say the least.

Not even the fact that Hallmark came up with the holiday with the blatant intention of selling cards–in fact, I almost applaud their business sense!

My issue, rather, is with the attitude that sprang up around the idea. Getting your mother a card? That’s fine, as long as you get a pricy bouquet of flowers to go with it. But you’re not really going to simply drop them off and leave, are you?! A good child would’ve booked champagne brunch at the nicest restaurant in town, followed by a spa day at the fanciest resort in the state, followed by dinner at the second fanciest restaurant in town, but only because you don’t have enough money to convince the fanciest to break their “Closed Sunday Nights” policy and do a private event for you. You slacker…how could you ever hope to measure up to the saint who brought you into this world?!?

I understand that plenty of mothers don’t buy into that crap. Plenty of mothers are happy for whatever acknowledgment they receive today or any day. Those are the mothers who are truly worth the appreciation–the ones who love their children no matter what, and in turn have children who will love them just as unconditionally.

And then there are the ones who fall hook, line, and sinker for the Hallmark hype. Every holiday becomes a struggle to put on an appropriate display of adoration (adoration, fear of passive-aggressive consequences…same thing, right?). And no matter how high you build the shrine, it’s never enough.

As you might have gathered, such was my experience with the likes of birthdays, Valentine’s Days, Mother’s Days. It got to the point where it elicited something resembling PTSD in her family; my father happened to be in Denver for his birthday, and when I offered to take him out to breakfast, he pursed his lips and said, “A call and maybe a birthday card is really enough. Your mom was into the whole elaborate production, but I am not.”

And I knew exactly what he was talking about. While this did not occur on our near a holiday, my father and I took a cruise to Alaska shortly before I left for college. While I certainly enjoyed myself (I got to fly in a helicopter to hike on a glacier during one expedition!), my dad and I spent the whole time fretting over what to bring my mother as a souvenir. You obviously don’t love someone if you don’t bring them a souvenir.

Alaskan ports lacking the proliferation of cheap tourist crap abundant in their Caribbean counterparts, we finally settled on a framed photo of me in formal wear. It’d be a nice gesture, we thought–she was taking my upcoming departure for college kind of hard, and it was a rare picture in which I didn’t look completely goofy. “You’ll like this gift!” Dad and I promised.

When I got home, I presented the picture. My mother picked it up, scrutinized it, and shook it a couple times. Finally, she put it down. “That’s IT?!?!!!?” she shrieked.

So one can only imagine the joy I experienced on any holiday for which Hallmark made a card, save, thankfully, the religious ones. And one can also imagine why I feel a sense of solidarity with Mother’s Day Scrooges whose mothers are no longer in their lives after decades of mistreatment. Because while I never had to fear being beaten or missing a meal when I failed to live up to my mother’s nebulous expectations, I did spend quite a bit of time wishing the holiday would disappear so I could avoid all the perky questions of, “What are you doing for your mom on Mother’s Day?”

If your answer to that is offering a cool, “Appreciation is a two-way street, Mom,” when she calls to scream at you for being an ingrate, you have my sympathies. Let’s share a Bloody Mary for no reason besides the fact that we can.


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  1. Having lost both of my parents, and having been extremely close to my mother, the constant reminders from pretty much every company I’ve ever done business with, however large or small, for the past month, and all the other on-line reminders, are enough to sort of just have me hibernate today and keep my mouth shut. Unfortunately it does feel like a competition wherein everyone is trying to outdo one another and, thanks to social media, brag about it. It’s nauseating. Whatever happened to being genuine?!

    • That was my initial issue with the day, too–my mom died when I was 21 and she was 52, which is way too young when you have access to first-world amenities and good health care (my dad, a physician, could have gotten her in to see any specialist in town if she’d been willing to do something about her problems). But seriously, why must it be such a competition to show affection?!

      • My Mom was 61, and I agree, losing a parent in their early 50’s and 60’s is way too young, especially when they have access to good health care. Unfortunately in my Mom’s case, there was nothing they had not tried to do. She’d been through way too much. She refused a heart transplant. She felt that when it was her time, we should simply allow that to be. I don’t think she truly pondered the ramifications of who and what she was leaving behind when the time did come though. I’m still too raw to accept it, ya know?

        It definitely feels like an immense competition. I now simply find myself emotional, angry, and upset on that day. When I have children of my own, I pray I will feel differently.

  2. Totally agree with ScorpionGlow@What happened to being GENUINE? Thankfully for a lifetime I’ve had a Mama whose a TRUE gem! Living cross country from her majority of my adult life(and wife/working Mom of 3 sons) my Mama had a FIT if we ever spent tons of moolah on flowers or whatnot to mail it cross country for Mothers Day? Instead? A simple phone call(even though I talk to her every day of my life..) and a card meant/means the world to her..Likewise? Now that I’ve Ma/Moms/Mom to 3 grown sons; and in college ..ALL I ask for is a call and/or text..I even love Ecards..Point being they appreciate me every single day; but just a small extra moment on Mothers Day makes me feel special. After all we give life and are Mothers for life..It is quite often(even when they’re grown) a 24/7 job..Hell, I still get much needed advice from both my parents..Now that I live in the same city; I spend every Sunday with my folks..And I do my utmost to do little special tasks/chores , without being asked, just to let them know how I love/appreciate them..Mothers Day, just like Christmas, has been turned into a big commercial money-maker..However, some of us Moms require being treated with love every day of the year and that goes both ways..Do NOT get me a card /meal on Mothers Day & treat me like crap rest of the year..Pfft! And as IF..Great topic though Not Taken, Not Available..As always 2 thumbs UP..And? Happy Mothers Day to all you Mothers reading this..Y’all rock!

  3. “Every holiday becomes a struggle to put on an appropriate display of adoration (adoration, fear of passive-aggressive consequences…same thing, right?).”

    This describes my mother perfectly. I have opted out of Mother’s Day entirely. If she asks, I can always say I forgot what day it was this year.

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