Personal – My First Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a weird holiday.  So many holidays are all-inclusive, or are if you are celebrating them.  Mother’s Day is different in that it’s exclusive and celebrates a special subset of humanity.  Obviously all people come from mothers, but not all women are mothers.  And there are lots of people for whom the holiday is a difficult one for various reasons – maybe their mother has died or they don’t have a good relationship with their mother.  Maybe their child died, or they aren’t able to have a child.  There are even more reasons that I’m not listing here, but it’s an emotionally fraught holiday for a lot of people.

Last year, I didn’t know that it would be my last as a non-mother person.  This year, I have my own baby girl who looks to and depends on me for everything.  I am being celebrated this year.  And I was – the Boy did the duty of any parent of a small child and made sure there was a gift and a card.  And I will say that while a gift and card aren’t required for every mother, I tried to make it known that I wanted some specific tangible acknowledgement of what had changed this year, even if with just a card.  Luckily for me, the Boy had figured that out in advance, and gotten the required items even before I asked.  The lesson here – and for every day – is that if you want something, you have to ask for it.  You can’t assume you’ll get what  you want if you don’t mention what that is.  Make your desires known.

The day was generally pretty good.  We did brunch with the family out in the country, and I got to dress up, and Baby B got to be coddled over by many many people.  There was a screaming fit where nothing would comfort her, but generally things worked out.  We had a quiet evening at home later, and reviewed candidates for our local primary election that’s coming up in a month.  And that was it.

It feels weird to have one day to celebrate a job that never ends, and that should get more acknowledgement from society at large.  And the holiday has become insanely commercialized by florists (it’s their “super bowl”), jewelers and many others in a bid to make money.  And this isn’t a recent thing – the woman who invented the holiday in 1908 would grow to hate the thing which she created because it had become so commercialized.  She also hated that this one day which is meant to honor the woman who had a huge influence on your life was being co-opted to be about ANY mom-like figure, and to talk about things that were women-and-child adjacent.  While I agree that non-birth-mothers deserve recognition (being stepmom to two myself), and that women’s issues are important, maybe the thing we need to do is focus on one thing at at time.

Or else, forget about spending one day pretending to care about and deeply respect mothers and their work, and instead as a society show that we value mothers and their sacrifices by instead getting rid of the holiday and committing to following through with policies and laws that protect women who choose to become mothers and allowing them the ability to work AND be good moms.  If that means better maternity leave policies, so be it.  And as a society, if we were to stop judging women for their choices – be it to stay home with their child, to work part time or full time – that would be an amazing step too.  But I think a society that truly cared about women would allow them to make that choice about how they want to mother without making it unfeasible unless the non-mother-partner makes significantly more money.

Anyways, I think I’ve gone off track.  The point is that having one day to celebrate mothers while nice, feels less than mothers deserve, and yet probably the most that we can expect for a long time.  And while it’s nice to be acknowledged, being a mom means never being off duty, and when you’ve got a teeny little one to care for, it means not getting much of a break ever.

So on that vaguely pessimistic note, how was your Mother’s Day weekend?  Did you celebrate your mom?  Did you not and not care?  Did you not and care deeply?  Did you wish you could celebrate, but not?  Did you too have a first mother’s day?  I’m interested to know how other people feel!

1 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    I called both my mom and my grandmother (since both women raised me and both are mothers) on the Friday before, since my bachelorette party was over mothers day weekend, and I wasn’t sure how I would feel/what I would be doing on the actual day. Last year, we happen to put Obi in a doggie day care on Mother’s Day because we couldn’t get a walker and they dipped each dog’s paw in paint and made a paw-print Mothers Day card for the doggie moms. It was adorable and hilarious and I definitely still have that on my office wall.

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