I don’t know why I’m so uncomfortable with Mother’s Day or what it has become. One annoying aspect is of course the Hallmarkisation of the day, with it becoming one big marketing opportunity just like all other such days. The overwhelming number of “offers” to pamper oneself at the spa or go to a fancy dinner or buy a diamond. One would think mothers never get a day off, when actually the ones that could afford the abovementioned probably do get sufficient time off. Maybe I personally cannot identify with this pamper-thyself avatar of Mother’s Day because I do take time off from my kids.
Then there’s the glorification of Mother. All the self-sacrificing things mothers are supposed to do or have done. Again, I don’t identify. I don’t do half those things. I am not that kind of mother.
It also feels a tad like “days” are created for the unappreciated and those in need of upliftment/attention who don’t normally get it. Like Women’s Day (another of those days that’s been taken over by the marketing hoopla to mean something else entirely) was supposed to be about calling attention to discrimination against women and the work that needs to be done for women’s empowerment. Instead, it’s become about wishing each other “Happy Women’s Day” and buying a pair of shoes. Secretaries Day was about appreciating secretaries, except I think secretaries smelled the patronization and at least at my workplace, this is not celebrated anymore. They’d rather get a payrise and daily recognition of their work than one day a year of fuss. And same with mothers, I’d wager.
I feel like when parenting gets equally balanced out there may be no need for such a day? Or at least have a Parents Day rather than a specific one for mothers? In a fair world, the one thing that mothers do that fathers can’t is give birth and breastfeed (and there’ll be tonnes of mothers who don’t do these also). Otherwise the roles can be quite fluid. I don’t know if I want to be commemorated for giving birth every year ad infinitum. After all, it was my choice. I’d expect some recognition for this from the father of my children, and that’s all.
I do realise that egualitarian parenting is not the norm. But then, isn’t it high time that we seek to redress that instead of mothers slogging it out and then happily accepting appreciation on just one day?
V is totally skeptical about Mother’s Day because it’s a new thing for him. It didn’t exist in his childhood. But it did exist in mine. The church celebrates Mother’s Day on the Feast of St Anne, who is Mother Mary’s mother. So there would be a sermon in church about mothers and we would wish my mother, make her cards, and my dad would get her flowers. And we have called to wish her every year since then, and my sister orders flowers from all of us. I know it makes my mother happy – and she’s the epitome of the mother who went out of her way to sacrifice, and therefore it makes sense in her case, but I feel, not really in mine and honestly, not in the case of my father who though I love him dearly, did not put in the same level of toil that my mother did.
That said, I did get a warm fussy feeling when Benji burst into the house shouting “Happy Mother’s Day” with a rose wrapped in plastic from school and a card he had made and which he then took 15 minutes to explain. It contained a very – um, complex – depiction of a mother a la Picasso. I felt the same last year when he gave me a card he had made at playgroup but this year he was much more articulate. I have saved both cards and I’ll treasure them.
I guess Mother’s Day, if it has to exist at all, is for me a private thing. It’s a moment for a child to commemorate a special relationship. I know I’m going to seem churlish, but I don’t get other people wishing you Happy Mother’s Day (which is weird because I’m okay with people generally wishing each other Happy Valentine’s Day, but that’s because I think Valentine’s Day should be extended to a celebration of different kinds of love). I feel like it’s fine for children to take the day to show appreciation of their mothers (and fathers on Fathers’ Day or on a combined Parents’ Day) but I also think the same could be done on the parents’ birthdays and no need for a special day for this at least in my world.