Surely we don’t need a commercialized holiday like Mother’s Day to tell us when to celebrate the mothers in our lives. No need to buy into this forced appreciation nonsense, right? We should celebrate and appreciate mothers every day!
We should eat five servings of vegetables, floss and take 10,000 steps every day too. And sure, every now and again we remember and go on a kick. Spinach for all! Fit Bits to the ready! Where was that floss again??? Then life gets in the way or things go back to normal or we just, simply, can’t be bothered.
The same thing happens with celebrating mothers.**
To be sure, the notion of Mother’s Day has been pumped up like Arnold Schwarzenegger on steroids pushed through a Denny’s All You Can Eat Breakfast Buffet sieve. Super-sized and monopolized by florist and pedicurists all over the world.
You should still acknowledge it.
Why? Because being a mother
sucks thankless ass is hard, especially if you’re trying to do it well. And 90% of that hard work goes on behind the scenes where no one else can see. Invisible Mom Syndrome.
Hey kids! Remember me? The one who remembers which of you
little tyrants darlings likes your apples sliced and which one doesn’t? The one who doesn’t argue with your ridiculous quirky insistence you don’t like cheese– except when it’s shredded?
Or that mother over there schlepping her kid’s cello, which is as big as she is. Or that one, getting up at 5 am to drive her kid to hockey practice. Or the swimming pool. Oh, there’s that mother over there who clocks seventy kilometers a day taking her kids to and from karate.
Mothers, the silent, invisible army making sure kids eat their vegetables, brush their teeth, get to bed at a reasonable hour, and make it to adulthood.
Hey kids! Remember me? The one meets you after school each day with a smile and a snack despite your
pissy attitude tired complaints? The one who nods and says “Oh, really?” in all the right places when you’re blathering incessantly talking about Pokemon–because even though I’m bored senseless, I’m still mostly listening?
Yeah, me over here, standing on the pedestal of motherhood. Which is really more of a sewer cover at street level threatening to give way at any moment.
No, no mother has to do any of this. Some don’t. But a lot of mothers do, because it is making life just a little bit more enjoyable and easier for their kids to walk the walk to adulthood. Because growing up, when you take away the rose-tinted glasses of adulthood,
sucks is hard work. This is what good moms do.
But just because it’s our job doesn’t mean it’s not nice to feel appreciated.
Have you ever busted your ass at work to get something done? Is it nice to have that work acknowledged? Of course it is. Now imagine your boss walking by and saying, “Well, I don’t really believe in telling my employees I appreciate them. After all, it’s their job. They get a paycheck every week, that should be appreciation enough.”
That’s what its like being a mother. Except we’re not getting paid. And there’s no overtime. Or vacation.
So, forget the we should celebrate mothers everyday bullshit. We all know it’s not true. The bigger question is, why the hell wouldn’t you take advantage of a ready-made day like Mother’s Day??? Why wouldn’t you take advantage of a day set aside and marked on your calendar (automatically for crying out loud!), to celebrate your mother, or your child’s mother? I mean seriously, it’s going to kill you to buy a damn card?
Yes, yes, there are plenty of mothers who don’t want a fuss made, who don’t buy into the commercialized falsehoods, who may feel lessened by the idea it took Hallmark and The Olive Garden to point out that what most mothers do on a daily basis should be acknowledged.
But I’ve yet to meet a single person in my life, ever, who doesn’t appreciate a word or token of appreciation, tangible acknowledgment that what they do is valued.
Sometimes I hear a fellow mother’s lament her family doesn’t ‘buy into’ the idea of Mother’s Day.
I don’t particularly enjoy standing in the pissing down rain to watch my son’s football team get creamed every week, but it’s important to him that he knows I am there, that I value his commitment, that I support him. What if I said, well, I don’t believe in watching your games because it comes from a false place and I feel like I’d be betraying my
shockingly selfish principles if I stood there week after week?
If your wife, if your mother, if you grandmother or baby mama celebrates or wants to celebrate Mother’s Day, get your ass down to the store and buy a card. Or make one. Or bring her coffee in bed, or list all the things she does that you appreciate on a piece of paper. You don’t have to spend money to show someone your appreciation. You don’t have to go the commercial route if that’s what is bothering you.
And fathers? Don’t give me this bullshit excuse about how your wife isn’t your mother –it’s up to you to corral your kids to do something. You’re the adult here, Dad. Stop trying to find opt-out clauses in the handbook of grown-up-ness. If the mother or mothers in your life want a show of appreciation, get off your butt and stop hiding behind some lame excuse. This is not about your own feelings about Hallmark or The Olive Garden. If it’s important to someone in your life, you do it. Stop making it about you.
So no more excuses. Use the damn day for what it’s there for. Feel free to skip The Olive Garden, but at the very least, let her know you appreciate what she does every day, behind the scenes.
**I write about motherhood a lot, and I always receive comments from readers about their own relationships with toxic family members, including mothers. Not all mothers are good or kind. Not all women should be mothers, and I know many of you, both personally and through these pages, who have been harmed, in ways big and small, by relationships with those mothers. When you’re writing a piece like this, it’s easy to use the collective idea (ideal) of motherhood to make a point. To those of you with mothers not worth celebrating (and there are plenty), buy yourself a card. Appreciate yourself, and the fact that you survived in spite of, rather than because of, your mother. Don’t got to the Olive Garden though–unless you really like bread sticks.