Friday, May 10, 2013

(__________) Day

I know, it's another photo of me and my sleeping Eve.  Honestly, I just can't help myself!

Hey. I don't know if you've noticed - the flyers, the posters, the commercials, the coupons, the pop-up ads - but Mother's Day is this weekend.

I had planned to write something very short today about how grateful I am to be the mama to the two most beautiful, most intelligent, most goofball of all goofball little girls in the whole world, how grateful I am to have the most amazing mama of my own, how much I miss my Grandmas, and to wish you all (all) a happy Mother's Day.

But this year I'm going to have to add to that.

Just like Valentine's Day, whenever Mother's Day rolls around I usually hear a lot about what a bullshit holiday this is.  And it sort of is, we all know that.  Hallmark, big business, overblown holidays, Capitalism, America the Corporate.  It's a valid, albeit a pessimistic, point.  But now, in addition to that, I'm reading more and more every year about how alienating Mother's Day can be, particularly to those who have lost their moms, or who had terrible moms, or who have lost their children, or who want very much to be moms but aren't.

God.  I am so, so sorry that anyone feels that way.  And I have dear friends and family whom I suspect may feel the same way.  I am glad that those wells of hurt are getting out there in the open, too, for the rest of us to be made aware.  Some of the writing is angry, but a most of it is written out of genuine pain, and it absolutely just breaks my heart.

At the same time, can we not pin this all on Mother's Day?

Now, I feel like, being a mom myself, and having a wonderful, living mother of my own, that I'm not allowed to ask that question.  I feel like asking it is being insensitive.  In fact, I feel guilty just being a mom, now.  I feel guilty for mailing off cards to my mom and mother-in-law.  I feel guilty for the pudgy kisses and handmade cards I've been getting all week because my five-year-old is overexcited and my three-year-old has zero concept of calendar dates.

I am really sorry that it makes you feel terrible when the pastor asks all the moms to stand up during Mother's Day church service every year.  Does it help that I hate standing up in church?  Probably not.

I don't know how to fix this.

I can't fix it.

But, also, I know in my heart that it isn't right to feel guilty for celebrating my mom every year.  Motherhood - parenthood - really is insane, shredding, rending, pummeling, heartbreaking, blindingly terrifying work, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, from day one until forever.  And my mom was - IS - amazing.  I will celebrate her without apology for as long as we are both alive, and even after that.

No, I don't know what it is like to be missing her completely.  I can tell you - something that I wasn't planning to tell you - that this year I impulsively mailed a card to my Grandma Shannon.  I've never done something like that before.  But I saw the card and it just seemed so perfect for her, so I bought it.  And then I realized that this December she will have been gone twenty years.  Twenty years that I have honestly missed her every single day.  So I wrote her a few lines in a card I bought at Target and mailed it to nowhere, and then I laid my head on my desk and cried for half an hour.

My grief may not match your grief.  I know.

I'm trying.  But I can't fix this problem.  I'm just asking that please....maybe?  Try to also understand that most of us moms don't feel deserving of all the cards, flowers, standing up in church, or whatever, either.  Most of us are just thinking about how we aren't possibly anything close to the BEST MOM IN THE WORLD! because we keep yelling when the kids are too slow walking out the door and we still haven't mended our daughter's favorite princess dress that's been in the sewing bin for THREE MONTHS and we forgot to sign them up for camp on time and we intentionally distracted them after school so they wouldn't see the popsicle sale because we just wanted to get HOME and put on sweatpants and watch another Jane Austen movie for the millionth time because it's the only freaking movie we can watch while the kids are in the room and we are NEVER going to make it far enough into Game of Thrones to see the dragons because those kids just will NOT go to sleep at night WHAT are we doing wrong???

And Mother's Day doesn't even feel like our holiday either, because it still feels like a holiday for our own moms.  Moms who we know weren't perfect, and we didn't always get along with them, but they were our moms and we needed them and our moms were there for us.  Or they weren't.  Either way, on Mother's Day we think through all of this and realize that although we feel unworthy and unqualified, we have a role to fill on this day for the sake of our kids.  Because they need us to be the best mom in the world.  So we kiss them (happily) and say thank you, we put our grocery store roses in a vase in the living room for the whole family to enjoy, we stand up in church and try not to appear as embarrassed as we feel, and we redouble our efforts to be the best mom in the world, now, because this is what our children need from us.

I know this holiday looks like it's about us, the mothers.  But really, it wasn't our idea.  We appreciate it.    Sometimes we get a nice massage coupon out of it.  But really, we just go along with it for our children's sake, and because we know that the rest of the moms in the world could certainly use a day off, and because we probably have our own people to celebrate on this day, too, living or not.

Is there any way we can be more sensitive, or helpful, to those of you who are hurting, without giving up the whole holiday?

I can't fix the problem.  I would very much like to help.  But - and I am SO sorry - but I just can't keep feeling guilty for celebrating Mother's Day.

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