Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lest you think I hate baseball, apple pie, and mom....

I don't hate Mother's Day.

I think the celebration of mom is good and important. So good and important it shouldn't really be confined to a day defined by florists and greeting card companies, but whatever.

I used to love making my mom breakfast and drawing cards and coming up with little gifts (usually coupons for things like "cleaning my room without complaining"). Later I used to love going to pick out plants (tomatoes and peppers) and finding ways to gift them to her...mostly so we could eat them later, I confess, but also because she loved to grow them. I would give anything to be able to do that again.

Which is how Mother's Day is supposed to be celebrated, really. Notice that the very name of the "holiday" gives us a clue: Mother's Day. singular mother apostrophe s... possessive: My Mother.

My mother. Our mother. Each family that wishes to do so appreciating its mother(s), in a personalized and specific way.

Not a generalized celebration of all mothers. Not a generalized celebration of women on a day that we associate with motherhood, thus equating womanhood and motherhood. Especially not a generalized celebration of women while we still devalue the work of mothering and pay women 23% less than men for their work outside the home, all the while "complimenting" them on the sidewalk, teaching them to be afraid, and asking what they were wearing.

When we make Mother's Day into a generalized celebration of all the moms/women/mother figures, in many ways we water it down into unrecognizable slop.

This is also the reason Mother's Day is hard for so many people. Because what should be personal becomes so public and meaningless, and along the way we are forced into some stereotypical ideal of womanhood and motherhood. It obliterates our actual lived experience for the sake of profit (and more than a little sexism). (the latter part is true of Father's Day too, of course.)

So yes: If it is appropriate to your experience, tell your mother (or someone of any gender who has been a mother figure in your life) you love her. Give her something meaningful to her, if gift-giving is part of your family's love language. Make her dinner, bring her breakfast in bed, make up some clean-my-room-without-complaining coupons, or whatever it is. And if that isn't how your relationships work, then do whatever you need to do--binge watch Netflix, order pizza, go for a walk, whatever--without shame or guilt.

Don't confine this appreciation to one day.

Don't insist that your specific experience be generalized to the whole. Know that there are people who don't find much to celebrate in the mother-child relationships they have been a part of, and those who grieve what was or could have been, and those whose mothers were and still are the most amazing perfect people ever.

And don't forget to work for a world where women--mothers and not, single and partnered, gay and straight, young and old--are valued for the amazing people they are, and their work is compensated fairly.

Happy Mother's Day, mom. Happy Mother's Day, grandma. Happy Mother's Day, Martha and Sherri and Betsy and Kim and all of you who have stepped in to be my extras. I appreciate you all, and am so glad you have been a part of my life.

*we still won't be celebrating Mother's Day in church.

1 comment:

  1. I am totally fine with you hating these things. And I don't think you need to prove anything... though I might be having a bit defensiveness my self.