Mother’s Day Can Go Away
And Father’s Day too
I had the opportunity to read an opinion piece this week (read TicToc), about how emotionally stressful Mother’s Day was to this person because his mother was really a difficult person to live with as a child, and still is. He feels the societal pressure to present some loving gesture on Mother’s Day when in fact she doesn’t really deserve it.
That’s what Mother’s and Father’s Day does to us. It tells us we should be celebrating and loving and giving.
But what if we don’t want to?
It’s always a light bulb moment to see a different perspective on matters.
The origin of Mother’s Day was founded in 1908 by Anna Jarvis to celebrate her wonderful mother. But it quickly became this commercialized event, and eventually she spent the rest of her days trying to remove it from the calendar.
As we know Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day are also made up days to create consumer spending, and brighten the economy from florist, candy, and gift purchases, restaurant spending, and the like.
I suppose it’s also to brighten up your loved one’s life too.
It’s a win-win, right?
Decades ago when my then-husband had been charged with a felony DUI and had his license taken away, I found myself driving him to the nearby grocery store the night of February 13th, so he could go pick out some flowers and a card for me. How weird is that? And I’m supposed to pretend I don’t know why he needed the ride to the store, as he tries to hide his purchase getting into the car.
Of course that year it was more of a forgive-me-for-all-this-shit kind of valentine for me.
Yeesh. How silly.
What a charade.
It took a few more years after that, but I got on the anti-Valentine’s bandwagon, disenchanted with the outrageous cost of flowers and foo-foo-ness that goes along with the holiday. Nothing like lovers, spouses, and partners being told they’re supposed to acknowledge each other on this day.
If gestures of love are an assignment for all of conforming society, then leave me out.
It shouldn’t feel like an assignment, a task, a chore.
Gifts aren’t my love language anyways.
(You should know this if you love me.)
Now I think in 2022 this TicToc guy might be on to something. Not everybody has great parents.
Think of all the child abuse in all its forms from verbal to physical to sexual to neglect. Think of all the kids who had absent parents in jail or too busy doing drugs to pay attention to their kids. Think of all the kids who practically raised themselves and their siblings. Think of all the kids whose parents are divorced and the issues that caused.
Think of all the kids.
Then we create these holidays to muck up their already mucked up emotions.
We are not all coming from the same place, some luckier than others with the parent lottery.
So I imagine that when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day roll around it can be a challenge to decide what to do and how to feel. Navigating the guilt and shame and pressure to acknowledge our parent in spite of family history.
Struggling with how horrible would we be if we didn’t acknowledge those who gave us life? Forget how shitty they made ours over the years.
Hallmark has us standing in that card aisle trying each sentiment on for size. You’re hopeful that you don’t have to go through 18 cards to find the perfect one. Nothing too lovey for the alcoholic, barely-there parent, like the ones I had to pick out for my ex-husband’s mom.
Somewhere along the way as we ascend into adulthood we’re supposed to figure out how to forgive or accept our parents just as they are or were. We’re supposed to realize that they are just flawed people, dealing with their own issues that mostly come from their own parents too.
We can wish for more or different. We can look at the green grass in someone else’s yard, and wish we had that too, but ya know we all just have our own shit. Some parents do better at evolving and becoming a great parent. Some never figure it out. Some will never have the tools to be the parent you needed them to be in the first place.
But announcing random days as an assignment to love your mom and dad is a mental health challenge to many. If the holidays continue to stay on the commercialism calendar then do what you like for your wonderful, loving parents who gave you a great childhood. But maybe take a moment to appreciate that it’s a stressful day for so many others.