Whoop-de-doo, it’s Mother’s Day.
Don’t get me wrong. I think mothers—especially mine—should be worshipped every day for holding their over-scheduled families together.
But I could do without Mother’s Day as a Hallmark holiday. I don’t think my mom would object, she wrote about it here, nor would the other mothers I know.
Because we all know someday we will be staring down our first Mother’s Day without our mom and that day will suck. And as if that day won’t suck enough, we’ll have to delete a hundred email messages from retailers announcing “Free shipping in honor of Mother’s Day.” We’ll be bombarded with ads on television, radio, and the Internet. Even if we never ordered from 1-800-FLOWERS, we’ll hear from them reminding us that it’s almost Mother’s Day, but it’s not too late to order a bouquet of daffodils.
Like single women who hate Valentine’s Day, another manufactured holiday, legions of women loathe Mother’s Day for various reasons. Estranged from mom. Grieving her death. Cursed with infertility. Mourning a miscarriage. Whatever the reason, plenty of women anxiously wait for the Mother’s Day shopping frenzy to end.
I have a friend who dreaded Mother’s Day as she endured one futile fertility treatment after another. When the much-hyped day arrived, she tossed the newspaper in the recycling bin without looking, knowing it would feature a heartwarming mommy feature on every page as well as endless ads for last-minute gifts.
By the time she slid into the pew at church, she thought she had escaped. She would squeeze her husband’s hand and pray for strength to survive the adoption process.
Then the pastor called for all mothers in the sanctuary to stand. While parishioners read Bible verses about mothers, little girls delivered a pink carnation to each woman standing. “It was the longest church service of my life,” my friend said.
Now my friend is a mom. But she still feels the sting of that church service, sitting on the hard pew while the women surrounding her stood to receive their flower.
Last year was my first Mother’s Day as a mother, and Jason wanted to make the day special. We went out to brunch. Celia was just old enough to sit in her high chair and take in the scenery. Next to us, a mother of three gushed over Celia, calling her the “total package” of charm and beauty. We beamed with pride.
After brunch, Jason asked what I wanted to do next. I said I was fine to go home. That was just the right amount of Mother’s Day for me.
On the ride home, I felt melancholy. Despite having made it to the other side after infertility hell, the pain of Mother’s Day was still with me. Several friends were still mired in the struggle. Sheila brought her baby home a few months later, but Kay is still waiting and trying everything science has to offer as she mourns the baby boy she lost in the second trimester. Mother’s Day for her … I can’t imagine.
That’s what I think of when I think of Mother’s Day: pain, loss, and exclusion. It’s a holiday that divides women into two categories—those with something to celebrate, and those left to grieve, often with a fake smile plastered on for others’ sake.
It’s funny then, that my neighborhood’s parent co-op enlisted me, along with three other moms, to coordinate Mother’s Day festivities. After brainstorming, we decided on a tea at a nearby restaurant on the day before the Big Day, Mother’s Day Eve.
I’m looking forward to it. Really. I want a fresh outlook on a holiday that is here to stay. I want to sip tea with the neighbors I only got to know through the shared experience of motherhood.
My mom already told me what she wants. In a bizarre mother-daughter coincidence, we both clipped from the newspaper the same recipe for banana cake. Bananas are Celia’s favorite food. We’ll huddle at Celia’s tea-party table for our decadent treat, enjoying our “total package.” Jason will probably take me to brunch again. Celia has discovered the sublime pleasure of pancakes.
I’m determined to savor a day when I am doubly blessed: my mom by my side and my daughter on my lap. For women who feel punched in the gut by Hallmark, I hope the day goes by swiftly. Then the Mother’s Day marketing fest will be over, giving way to … Father’s Day.