Like some other Pixies, the forced-march Mother's Day extravaganza is not my favorite. And it's not because we hate mothers! Some of the greatest people we know are moms! Moms work hard every day to save the planet, to solve its problems where we can, to love and care for its people, and to clean up the mess. Every day is Mother's Day.
When the kids were younger, I absolutely treasured those lovely gifts they made in class, and also liked this and other opportunities to have them think about others. But let's face it, this is primarily a holiday created to force people to feel guilty and run out to buy stuff, because everybody and their ad agency says you should. Bah. Humbug. To heck with that.
What I really want as a mother is for my (young adult) children to be healthy, happy, taking care of their own stuff, behaving kindly toward others. We have our moments, but I'm so proud of my kids, and love that our relationships have evolved to an adult level.
And what really bothers me about the You Must Be Happy hype is that there are many reasons why a forced fake holiday like this creates anxiety and pain for a good many people. Sometimes -- like with my own toxic mother -- the relationship was a very difficult one. Sometimes, one has recently lost a beloved mother. Children who are raised without a mother are forcefully reminded that they are different, not "normal." Stepfamilies -- which are common, but may not carry the same emotional connections -- may suffer tensions when one is expected to act as though the closeness is there. And mothers who have lost a child are reminded once again of their loss, as if they could ever forget. (I'm thinking particularly of a young local man who committed suicide at college last week, and the unimaginable pain his parents are already suffering right now.)
When we think about celebrating mothers, we ought not think of overpriced chocolate and brunch at a chi-chi restaurant, but more broadly about providing all mothers the tools to raise their children safely and well. Every child should be loved; every child needs food and shelter and education and health care; every child needs constancy, safety, and to be valued. Motherhood is challenging, even for women of adequate means and accomplishment. Mothers need to be able to plan their families; they need family-friendly work policies, and access to reliable child care; they need to provide at least the basics of care and nurturing. I have issues with a good many political developments, in part because they are so contrary to actual needs of so many mothers and their families. Don't buy a card; go do some good instead.