It’s the first day of break for me (praise the Lord!), and tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Parent Days are tricky holidays… that being said, I’m an alum of Mary Baldwin College, which graduated Anna Jarvis, who founded Mother’s Day years and years ago. (Carnations were her thing.) So I feel it necessary to make Mother’s Day good out of Fighting Squirrels pride, and because I do appreciate my mother, rocky though our relationship can be at times.
Interestingly, Anna Jarvis came to dislike the way the day to honor mothers was handled by the public. Her criticism pointed specifically at “meaningless cards” and “a box of candy you’ll eat half of, anyway.” And she’s right. A lot of the Mother’s Day whoop-dee-doo is just an excuse to sell things.
Well, the comic Zits puts it nicely… “Mother’s Day is the day we have to smile politely while they ram good intentions under our fingernails.”
I found another article on Facebook about Proverbs 31– my dad, to his credit, has never based a sermon around it, but apparently a lot of other well-meaning ministers do the good-intentions shoving with their sermons on this Biblical poem. Apparently (I’m still stuck in Psalms, by the way), it praises the work of a wife (weaving, keeping the books and the house and so on), which many Christians mistakenly use as a prescription for what all women should be. Jewish people interpret it differently.
The question of interpretation goes back to a mother’s identity, or rather her not having one. Once a woman has children, in society’s eyes, she can really only be “Mom” ever after. She can’t be pretty. She can’t like her job or her social life, too much. The kids must always come first. She produced the children and now must consume nearly every product in the economy to make sure the parenting is done right. And Mother’s Day is, unfortunately, caught in this web of consumerism.
Yes, I still give my mother gifts. Some of them I buy, some of them I make, but I always try to make sure it’s something she actually needs/wants. And even when we’re not getting along, I try to say Happy Mother’s Day and mean it. I can’t have been an easy kid to raise– just saying.
And that’s what Mother’s Day should be about. Acknowledging what your mother had to work with, be that your own shortcomings, or a lack of good options from other routes (my grandmother sometimes had to leave her sick kids at home because she’d lose her job if she asked for the day off), and what a good job they did anyway. If you want to give her a gift, do it. But don’t imply that to be a woman of valor that she needs to take up spinning. Write a little note in the card. She is your mother, after all.
PS: Thanks Mom.