why I don’t have a problem with mother’s day

Tomorrow is what some consider to be a Hallmark holiday. Ann Lamott hates it. Husband’s not a fan. First Son thinks it’s kind of coercive, and therefore meaningless, like being forced to apologize. Several of my friends on facebook have linked to Ann’s article disparaging it, uttering comments of agreement.

I read the article, thought about it, tried really hard to see her point, and then decided that she was kind of missing it.

Like, a lot.

Yes, mother’s day is probably difficult for women who would have liked to have had children, and for whatever reason, did not. Yes, mother’s day will probably be difficult for women who have lost their mothers (Me! Me!), or who had children and have lost them one way or another (tragic death, estranged relationships).

But is it necessarily true that honoring something that is, in fact, quite important, is dishonoring everybody else?

And just because something might be difficult for some people does that mean it should be vilified? There are tragedies and losses every day, sometimes even on national holidays; do we all avoid any possible reference to any possible reminder to any possible pain?

Husband thinks Mother’s Day is a pathetic excuse for pathetic people who treat their mothers with apathy at best and disdain at worst 364 days of the year, and palliate their consciences one day in May by buying grocery-store bouquets and offering to mow the lawn.

Are you my conscience?

Are you my conscience?

I agree, and think that all children everywhere should honor and appreciate and help their mothers at every possible opportunity.

But still.

There are a lot of people I think of as my “mothers” besides my mom. My mother-in-law for example, who has recently agreed to “adopt” me (thanks, mom!), my sisters, my best friends Jackie and Jill and Yelena and Meghan, my husband, who loves me and nurtures me and seems to always see the best possible version of me there is. I, likewise, feel that I am “mother” to many people — my friends, my husband, my students, my children.

We would all love to be honored and appreciated and thanked regularly; but we’re busy people, and we forget.

Is it really such an awful thing to thank all of those people who have loved us and nurtured us and always tried to see the best possible version of us that there is?

I don’t think so.

I imagine that all of those women out there who don’t have good relationships with their mothers, or whose mothers are no longer with them, or who have never had children, or who don’t have good relationships with their children, I imagine that all of those women have been “mothers” and “daughters” to other women, other people, would like to be honored, and thanked. Let’s broaden the definition, let’s broaden the scope.

And thank all mothers, everywhere.


I’ll mow your lawn, if I know where you live.



3 Responses to “why I don’t have a problem with mother’s day”

  1. 1 Mireille Raby
    May 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I like it. Thanks for sharing. Agree. Hope you do have a great Mother’s Day!! With love, mireille

  2. May 12, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Happy Mother’s Day. I agree that Anne Lamott misses the point, mainly by making too much of the unimportant. Being child free, I could get hissy that she presumes to speak for me and how MD (or I guess in my case Father’s Day) makes me feel.

    The problem I have is purely ideological. The holiday was invented by Hall Mark cards because they wanted to equalize their sales throughout the year and there was no holiday in May, but then it took on the characteristics that your son and husband see in it and now it also means a day that you can’t get a table at a restaurant. Don’t get me started on Grandparents, Chidren’s and Secretariy’s Days.

    • May 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      It was maybe begun for mercenarious reasons, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good thing. You know Oskar Schindler saved what, like 1,000 Jews, and at first just because he saw an opportunity to make a little money.

      Of course, I’m not comparing Mother’s Day to extremely courageous acts during the Holocaust, but it is possible to take something that was started for a “bad” reason and still make it something “good.”

      As for me and my mother’s day, am spending most of the day basically by myself. Shopped a little, did quite a bit of work, sat in my quiet house and tried to keep Dexter the Dumb Dog from barking at everything that moves. Not necessarily a bad day. Second Son washed my breakfast dishes, and offered for me to leave any other dishes I make for him to do after his work shift. That was nice. But someone making me a cake or bringing me a bouquet of roses wouldn’t be the worse thing I could think of.

      Am thinking of my mom, and her mom, and her mom’s mom who died when her mom was something like 7 years old. So much independence, and strength, and courage handed down to me. Despite whatever I may feel I was lacking, I am very grateful for that. They were good people, and they always always always did their best. What more can anyone ask, really?

      I would like to make my mom a cake, or bring her a bouquet of roses. I can’t. I’m sad, and the fact that it’s Mother’s Day and my mother has died makes me sad, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a Mother’s Day.

      Sad isn’t always bad. Sometimes it reminds us of what’s important, of what to be thankful for, of what we should never ever forget.

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