Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day, as we know it, is bullshit. Yeah, I said it. Mother's Day is that annual 24-hour period when people think they can actually thank their mothers for "everything they do." An absolute impossibility because our kids have NO IDEA of all the shit we do (and don't do) for their benefit and amusement. No Fucking Idea. Even though I am a mother now, I don't even pretend to know everything that my mother has done for me. I have no idea of all the times she prayed me out of trouble, stopped herself from telling me the truth because I couldn't handle it, dried my tears when she really should have been crying herself. I don't even know what all she did without, so that I could have whatever. You see motherhood is at once a sisterhood and a singular experience. So Mother's Day can't really be anything but a day long illusion. It's a game where our kids pretend to appreciate that which they cannot grasp and we pretend to believe that they grasp something they could never fully appreciate. None of this is to say that kids don't love their mothers. Of course they do! And every time they kiss you on the face, or smile at you, pick dandelions and shove them under your nose, they mean it. But love can be expressed daily, and it is. Teen Boy and Teen Girl tell me they love me all the time. And I believe them. Mother's Day isn't about love. Not really. It was Julia Ward Howe who first called Americans to celebrate Mother's Day and it wasn't because she needed a day for her kids to send her roses or she had a sudden craving for breakfast in bed. The first Mother's Day Proclamation was a call to peace. That's right, it was a call to mothers to stand together against war. Read Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation of 1870 here. Mother's Day itself, at least in the United States, was born of pain. The pain of mothers who suffered through the Civil War and had to bury too many children. Because no one, not even Mary herself, plans to raise a martyr. And when your child is killed, who gives a shit about the reason or the honor that someone will attach to it. Who gives a shit about the good of the country or fighting evil or any of that. All you care about is that your baby is gone, and you couldn't do a damn thing about it. I'm sure every mother of a fallen soldier would rather have her kid instead of an American flag and a place to put flowers on Memorial Day. At some point we set that first Mother's Day aside and we've used the day to let Mom put her feet up, have a go at the all-you-can-eat brunch buffet and we get her some grocery store flowers. And she appreciates the attention and having a night off from the dishes. But let's not pretend that we know her suffering. Let's not even try to thank her for all she's done because we don't really know. Just tell your mother that you love her, and know that she loves you more. Do what you can to make her life a bit easier, visit when you can, but not too much because by now she probably needs a break from your ass. And when she's gone, remember that she was your one great love and you were hers. To the Teens, my own great loves, all I can say is this: I want to see Dark Shadows. I'll buy dinner and we'll call it even. Even though it's not. Happy Mother's Day. Originally written in May 2012

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