Mother’s Day carries so much emotional baggage all around. For some it is a happy day filled with love, tears and laughter. For others, not so much. One year I got a phone call in the middle of that Sunday night from some livid Dad berating his daughter for not having called her mother on Mother’s Day.
I was annoyed: most working writers hate being interrupted by the phone at the best of times, let alone being woken up from a deep sleep. Besides that, my Dad was dead, and Mother’s Day in England is observed much earlier in the year than in the U.S. I didn’t owe anybody a phone call that weekend.
I tartly told the man I didn’t know what he was talking about. He realized his mistake and quickly got off the phone. Hopefully, I’d taken some of the wind out of his sails but I felt sorry for mother and daughter both, with a man like that running interference.
I rarely write about Mother’s Day but with my mother passing away on December 26, 2015, this year is a little different. There’s an extra layer of emptiness on top of that caused by my husband’s passing in 2014.
My relationship with my mother had been a little strained for decades for a number of reasons, but mostly because I married a man who was divorced, and with children yet. In earlier years, divorced people were looked down on with distaste and disapproval in my family. Looking down on anyone else is upper-class snobbery, in this case as practiced by the working class.
Both parents informed me that I’d made my bed and could now lie in it. Of course, 30 years later when the only surviving son got divorced, that event was “acceptable,” though my mother almost put herself in an early grave, wrestling with not being privy to the details. It is said that curiosity killed the cat, after all. She could not accept that the rest of us weren’t told why either. To others, she was a kind person loved by many, until dementia stole her mind. But I made sure I always stayed in her life and kept in touch at least once a month, and if I didn’t, she called me on the phone.
No Mother’s Day is without pain for millions of women. The U.S. greeting card and florist industries alone would lose millions of dollars in sales if this celebration went away, but both industries seem mostly oblivious to the hurt inflicted on those whose children ignore them for a variety of reasons, as well as those who will remain childless in this world. Commerce must continue.
Having endured decades of Mother’s Day programs and tributes in churches, this year I could not sit through another. This is so, even though the flower or potted plant or special booklet given to the mothers and future mothers at church was usually, though not always, the only acknowledgment I received. My husband did not buy me a gift or a card for Mother’s Day, knowing it would only make the pain worse. And to be wished Happy Mother’s Day by anyone at church elicited a weak smile and a murmured thank you.
Even mothers with lively children in their lives felt and still feel that the paragon of motherly virtue paraded in front of them every year is far from the reality of being a Mom in 2016. No mushy cards for them either. Something humorous that reflects their reality, please.
But to those who feel honored – and almost all Moms are so deserving, given what they deal with in trying to keep their children safe in this world – I hope your Mother’s Day was special. And I hope someone took pictures of your precious little ones bringing you the tray with the sticky waffles, orange juice, and a daisy while you were still in bed. I saw their Dads helping them choose the breakfast treats for you at the supermarket on Saturday!