The Case for Mother’s Day

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!

Uh huh.

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.

Horse shit.

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.

One day. ONE. They put it in the same month every year! They made it a Sunday! You can’t turn sideways without some sort of reminder! I mean it literally could not get any easier….

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.


M is for the Million Things She Gave Me….


The stuff of epic poetry.  The building blocks of psycho-analysis.  The root cause of thousands of therapist couch-hours.  The butt of jokes, the brick of cliche, even the muse for slang (Yes, Stacey’s Mom, you got it going on.  And thank you, Stifler’s Mom for giving us the term MILF).

As Mother’s Day once again approaches, I feel the need to come clean, to lay it straight.  To blow your socks off, rock you with honesty, tell it like it really is.  Are you ready?  Here goes.

One day a year of flowers and breakfast in bed doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Knots? Let me hammer them out for you.

A nice meal out and homemade cards, even those with glitter and stickers?  Doesn’t even begin to come close to leveling out the playing field.  Even a bought and paid for massage by a muscular Norseman who goes by Thor doesn’t come close.  In fact, the only thing I can think of which may begin to make up for all the pain, all the sleepless nights, the angst, the worry, the distress, and sacrifice is the donation of a non-vital internal organ.  And even then it would be a close call.  Harsh but true.

Sure, the paper mache heart made with chunky fingers and lots of love chips away slightly at the vivid and detailed memory of labor pains. The handprint poem, replete with messy, purple painted prints, softens the nightmarish flashbacks of those six month chunks of sleep deprivation.  Sleepy hugs and droopy dandelions in vases and yawing exhortations of “Happy Mother’s Day!” gnaw through the ties that bind you to all the interrupted bathroom trips, the cold meals, the schlepping and chauffeuring, the truck noises and feigned enthusiasm for Lightning McQueen.  But knick-knacks and paddy whacks and crafty projects aside, how do you go about showing appreciation for the very vessel that breathed life into you?

But, but, but you may splutter, raising respectful human beings, young men and women who go forth and responsibly populate society, who contribute meaningfully, surely that is reward enough.  And it is.  In the long run, in a galaxy far, far away.  But in case you are stumped for a few ideas for the here and now, take a gander below.  Spouses and partners take note, most of these require your active assistance….

State of Union

Every mom I know would sell her soul for a day free of explaining, negotiating, and refereeing everything from who pees first to whether or not the slice of cake Johnny has is infinitesimally bigger than the one gracing Janie’s plate.  As Mom’s partner you have the power to Make It Happen.  Bring peace and unity to her state of being.  You may need to physically remove the children from her presence to make this one happen, but trust me, it would go a long way to showing your mother…I mean your spouse….how much you appreciate her.

Oh!  Mr. Darcy! Photo:
Oh! Mr. Darcy!

Pride and prejudice

Try this:  “Sure honey, let’s watch Pride and prejudice for the 11th time so you can sigh over Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy.  The Game of Thrones season premiere can wait!  I don’t really need to find out why the zombie apocalypse is marching on Winterfell.  No, really, I mean it!  Yes, you’re right, the one with Kiera Knightly is crap compared to the BBC version.  C’mon kids, let’s go out!”

Meal Tickets

Another one to try:  “Honey, I’ll take the kids out to brunch by myself so that you don’t have to worry about X stabbing Y with the butter knife or whether or not Z is going to eat the pasta because the cheese isn’t the right color or not getting to eat a hot meal because Thing 1 and Thing 2 will need to be taken to the toilet sixteen times.  Here is a bag of chips and a bowl of dip for you to eat while you are watching Colin Firth.”

The Full Monty

Namely a clean house, a full fridge and an empty hamper.  A house that stays clean for more than 10 minutes is a good way for kids to show mom they care.  As is food shopping for her.  And doing the seventeen loads of laundry that have piled up.

50 Shades of Time

Forget the book, the time to read a book is what a mom really needs.  Preferably guilt free time in bed   Yes, it’s been a week since you…err..snuggled last, but let her prop up her tired feet and get stuck into a good book without worrying about hurrying to turn off the light five minutes before you come to bed to make it look like she’s been asleep for an hour.

IMG_1619The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

What a mom really wants is to know that she is loved, warts and all.  Even though she may not fit into the jeans she wore before she gave birth to a baby or two, even though she sometimes sweats at night or has holes in her yoga pants or hasn’t worn a pair of heels in years.  Even though she sees red when the toilet seat is dribbled in pee, or has stopped cooking on Wednesdays.  Tell her the truth.  That none of that really matters.

So this year, give mom the gift that keeps on giving.  No, not guilt.  Tell her you appreciate her.  Tell her on an average Tuesday during an odd month in the middle of the afternoon.  Tell her just before she falls asleep.  When her nose is blocked up and dripping snot and yet she’s still peeling carrots for lunches.  When she’s ten pounds above her fighting weight and spilling over her jeans and making a birthday cake that she’s sitting on her hands not to eat herself.  When she’s driving you crazy because she’s getting older and she can’t remember that you told her something ten times already.  When she calls just to chat in the middle of dinner preparation.   Just because.  Just because she’s your mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to every Mother.  You deserve it.

This one is dedicated to my own mom, who taught me what to do, what not to do, and all the other dos and don’ts in between.