During the past few days a lot of people have been landing on my blog as a result of their searches for anecdotes on motherhood. It must be confusing—here they are, trying to find something nice or funny to put onto Ma’s card, so they google Erma Bombeck, and find themselves in the middle of one of my rants.
Naturally, I feel obliged to say a few words on this, er, sacred day, given how much I write on the subject of motherhood. This isn’t easy, since I am, to say the least, ambivalent about Mothers Day. I suppose every holiday has contradictory aspects—but could any day arouse more confusion in a feminist mother than this annual mawk fest? Of course we want recognition for the job of mothering—but setting aside one day a year reeks of tokenism. It’s like Black History Month: we’re so neglected the rest of the year we need a special time to get noticed.
And the way we get noticed! Flowers, hearts, perfume, candy—name something sweet and frilly, chances are it’s a typical Mothers Day gift. The sentiments on Mothers Day cards are enough to make any mother, feminist or not, puke. I just saw a TV commercial that said moms “always love us, are always warm…” Nobody on the planet loves another person one hundred percent of the time. Nobody is always warm. It’s just too much hype to have to live up to.
Well, it was too much for me, anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I did not like being a mother. I liked my kids, sure, but I did not like my role. Maybe I made a mistake, ruining the experience for myself; sometimes I look at the young mommies who’re having fun and regret that I let myself miss out on it. More guilt, more regret, more shame, more dislike….
It should come as no surprise that I sent my kids mixed messages about Mothers Day, the result being that they never knew how to deal with it. If I hated the day so much, they were afraid to acknowledge it. If they didn’t acknowledge it, I felt worse. My daughter, now a mother herself, seems to have figured it out: she sends me a card, sometimes a gift, and always a card from the grandsons, which is the thing I most treasure. My son’s still so confused I have to issue direct orders: today I’ve asked him to take me to the movies. What am I going to see? Georgia Rule, of course—a story about a mother, daughter and grandmother. A rant is sure to follow.
Happy Mothers Day.