How a day founded as a badass anti-war protest designed to give voice to peace-advocating mothers has turned into a brunch and manicure festival remains a confounding mystery to me. While I have no strong feelings against celebrating Mothers Day (or brunch. I do hate manicures though), I have, at best, apathy.
The main reason for this apathy is that while of course I want to feel that my contribution to society and my family is appreciated, I’m skeptical about the cultural and retail ramifications of a “special day.” Mothers Day feels a little bit like another way my very real motherhood is being coopted, re-branded, and pimped to sell stuff I don’t care about. It feels like another reminder that folks who aren’t necessarily mothers, in the interest of hawking stuff I don’t need or want, have decided that “mother” means one thing. And we celebrate that one thing on one day.
It’s pastel. It’s way into mugs. And it wants nothing more than crudely made breakfast on a tray at the ass crack of dawn. Suddenly, a word that describes me clearly has become weird and useless. Mothers Day? Who is the “mother” in this scenario? Because I don’t recognize her.
Then there’s the other thing. The idea that “mother” means the biological, female parent of a child. This just isn’t true. There is deep sadness that this day elicits for some of us. For some of us, Mothers Day is complicated. Because mothers die. Children die. Babies die. Fetus’ die. Dreams of a life lived as/decidedly as NOT a mother die. Hope of finding a mother dies. Motherhood might be too many possibilities to celebrate in a day. It might not be something for some of us to celebrate at all, especially not in the mandatorily sunny fashion prescribed. It might be something we can’t acknowledge with stuff. It, as it turns out, is not one thing.
To all of the multi-faceted mothers – the ones with babies, without babies, with children, without children, whose mothers are here, or there, or nowhere – please take this as your official permission slip (if the marketers have decided that they are in charge, surely I can decide that I am) to _________________ Mothers Day. Do what you want/need to do. On the day, when it seems our cultural whole is block-letter declaring that someone else should take care of you (just for this one day, and then you can get back to your very important job of taking care of every goddamn one else for zero dollars and amid constant scrutiny, thanks), I am giving you permission to take care of yourself.
I’m also encouraging you to call bullshit if that’s what you see. Because perhaps, like me and so many other moms I’ve been talking with about Mothers Day, what we’d really ACTUALLY appreciate in lieu of (or at least in tandem with) brunch and nail polish is a return to the idea behind Mothers Day in it’s founding: “Hey, culture! HEAR MY VOICE! Because these decisions you’re making for this world and the future? The ones you think I’m too occupied mothering to contribute to? I’ve got a major stake in that enterprise. She’s this little kid holding my hand here. And I’ve got perspective you lack, compassion you seem to have lost, and a host of other resources you’ve paid lip service to on this nice pastel poem mug, but somehow failed to actually value. And that changes now, because its MOTHERFUCKING MOTHERS DAY and it’s my turn to talk.” Drops mug.
_______________ Mothers Day, Pluck readers. Megan and I think you’re doing everything right.