Teri Vance: Celebrate Mother’s Day any way you want
I don’t know about you, but somehow I always feel inadequate on Mother’s Day. On one hand, our moms are responsible for so much of our success and well-being — our lives, even — that it’s hard to show that kind of appreciation in one day.
On the other hand, it’s a bit like Valentine’s Day. For people in a perfect relationship, it’s the perfect reason to celebrate. But who, really, has a perfect relationship? And it can make almost everybody feel like they’re falling short.
I was reading a column about Mother’s Day by author Anne Lamott, outlining her own struggles as a mom on this day. She said she raised her son to not celebrate the day, believing it puts unrealistic pressure on mothers.
“The illusion is that mothers are automatically happier, more fulfilled and complete,” she wrote. “But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be the mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. These mothers are on a diet.”
She also points out how it can bring pain to those who aren’t mothers or whose mothers have died or who those who have difficult relationships or no relationship at all with their moms.
“I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure,” she wrote. “The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s.”
I, of course, having no children, can understand the feeling of being “outside” on this day. Society has a way of portraying women with no children as being less valuable than mothers. I have felt the sadness and judgment of this expectation.
It’s easy to see how it might be easier to just be cynical on this day, and pretend it isn’t happening.
Or we can let go of expectation. We don’t have to just celebrate perfect relationships with perfect mothers living in a perfect world.
There are no rules. I asked on Facebook how people recognize the day. Florence Phillips, founder of the Nevada ESL In-Home program, said this beautifully, “On Mother’s Day I always thank my daughter for choosing me and making me a Mom. I love her dearly.”
There’s no perfect relationship. But we all have people who nurture us and people who we nurture. Mother’s Day can be a day to honor that.
We can find our own way to recognize the mothers or mother figures in our lives. It doesn’t have to fit into anyone else’s paradigm.
Leslie McGarry has created new traditions.
“My mother passed six years ago,” she said. “She is dearly missed. I make up my own Mother’s Day. It revolves around what my kids enjoy. If they are happy so am I. The past two years it’s been Chuck E. Cheese. This Sunday maybe lunch for the big boy and his co-employees.”
For me, I ‘m going to tell my mom — who’s beautiful, intuitive and good — I love her.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.