I hereby officially release my children from any obligation to observe Mother’s Day. I feel it is important to first clarify what are NOT the reasons for the declaration:
– I am not abdicating motherhood. Free meals and babysitting are still available upon request, or by just showing up.
– It is not because of bad memories. I have a great mom, and I don’t have any lingering emotional issues from raising our children.
– I am not trying to avoid giving gifts to my mother and mother-in-law. Truly, I am a gift-giver by nature, a fact which my husband graciously accepts while still trying to patiently moderate.
– Receiving gifts does not create any moral dilemma for me or make me uncomfortable. I can think of no good reason to turn down chocolate covered strawberries or help in the garden.
– I have no objections to true holidays or celebrations. We thoroughly enjoy Christmas and birthdays, for instance. I start Christmas shopping in July. Birthdays are sometimes a week long affair.
– This is no counter-defensive because I have been ignored. I have not been. Different children remember Mother’s Day to different degrees, but they all show me love and respect throughout the year.
– I have no quibble with so-called commercialism or materialism. Let the merchants try to sell what they will. People can decide what they want to buy. No amount of marketing can turn me into a football fan, and no advertising makes me celebrate something I would rather not.
– I do not have any hang-ups about the historical association of Mother’s Day with honoring Greek goddesses or the Virgin Mary. Nor do I care that it was once part of remembering soldiers killed in battle.
So what could have influenced me to take such a step? It is partly that the government has used legislation to pretend a role in the family. It seems a bit of a ruse to declare a “national” holiday to regard mothers, while all the while working at usurping parental prerogative in the family. It is like they have taken the father’s role of saying, “Listen to your mother,” but they don’t really mean it. Besides, making it “a law” to honor your mother on a certain day tends to drain it of the spontaneity that makes honoring truly meaningful. I think that when the government steps in to tell people how they should treat each other, it weakens normal relationships.
Another problem for me is that legislating “a day” to honor mothers creates an unnatural and unbalanced view of what that means. Children (or their fathers) can treat their mothers well all year long, but if they neglect to particularly recognize the governmentally sanctioned day, they risk being labeled unfeeling and ungrateful.
Not only that, but the obligatory nature of the legislated day tends to create a lot of familial pressure as people struggle to find the right combination of remembering mothers in various strata of the generations within the constraints of the given day. Should a father honor the mother of his children or his own mother more? How should a married couple divide time for all mothers involved? Is the day one where a mother gets fulfillment of wishes, or one where the children get to “have” the mother to play with for the day? Is just a gift okay or is a visit in order? How many hours can small children handle treating all the mothers according to the dictates of the day? I know that there are ways people deal with all of this, but why super load one day with such concerns in the name of “honoring” mothers?
Mother’s Day is different than birthdays or Christmas. While Mother’s Day is sort of like a second, community birthday for all mothers, it also carries with it more societal pressure to do the “right thing.” You might as well deny you have a mother and consider relocating to Siberia if you refuse to “honor” your mother this day. And speaking of birthdays, I already have a day for that! Friends and family can help me celebrate it, but doing so is less complicated and more flexible. Belated birthdays are basically a traditional variation. Belated Mother’s Day? Not so much.
Christmas may be recognized by the government, but the holiday is not dependent on it. It involves the whole family, if they so choose, rather than focusing on one person. Also, it is a season, so there is much greater flexibility in dealing with extended family.
I’m not going to be turning away any of my children who visit on Mother’s Day. I love to see them any day of the year. However, they are to feel no stress about “Mother’s Day” AT ALL. Their relationship with me cannot be measured by what goes on on one day or according to governmental parameters.
And just to prove we have fun around here, I caught the three youngest girls dancing while they were dipping strawberries in chocolate and a variety of other substances. Many arms make the job easier….