Monday, May 09, 2022

Mother's Day Blues

I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day. For one thing, I did not grow up with this holiday although it is now widely celebrated in India too. And then, I always think the apostrophe should go over the plural version--it feels more inclusive and more in keeping with the socialist and anti-war origins of the day. And on top of it all, there's knowing that Mother's Day can be a day of mourning for so many.  

And it hasn't always been happy for me.

At is 23--and I don't think all 23 of my Mother's Days have been happy ones. All the recent ones have been, but it took a while to get there. It was fine when the kids were younger--elementary school teachers (bless them!) made sure the kids had a card to give me on Mother's Day. I think they would talk about what to do on Mother's Day, so the kids would pick flowers sometimes, and they always had that card they made in class to produce with such a proud flourish. There were some gems in those early days: At saying he loves me because I "make refreshing drinks;" Nu saying they love me because I gave them "their blood and bones." 🤣 Both of those statements are still in regular rotation over here. 

But when the kids were too young to do stuff themselves, Big A was very hands off. I remember asking him to help the kids plan and him saying "but you're not my mother"--which I thought was missing the point. On top of that, I frequently have to to be the one reminding him to call/plan for his mom too. As this long-ago post references, I wallowed in self-pity because I loved mothering and wanted Mother's Day to be special--but it was mostly Hallmark media telling me what it ought to be, and I could see it not happening in my life.

But at some point in the last ten years or so, I realized that I did not want breakfast in bed (I'm not a breakfast person at all although I make the kids breakfast every day) or presents (I already have too much stuff)--what I really want is some meaningful time with the kids doing something together. So in more recent years, I've just said what I'd like for us to be doing: some years it's been yoga and spa, some years it has been gardening. And all of it has made me very happy. And although I do not need presents, the kids have started giving me the sweetest, most meaningful things--last year they gave me a water backpack for hiking, and this year they gave me a toddler Ganesh.

Pic: This year's amazing card and present. I plan to use the card as a bookmark in my planner; the toddler Ganesha will sit on my reading table.

6 comments:

StephLove said...

When the kids were little I used to feel Mother's Day was impossible with two moms because there was no one to take over household duties and give the other the "day off" which was I guess what I wanted.

This was what I wrote in 2009:

"I feel like we haven’t really gotten the hang of Mother’s Day despite eight years of practice. The first one we didn’t expect to celebrate as mothers because Noah arrived three weeks before his late May due date. We were so overwhelmed with new motherhood we agreed to just let the day go uncelebrated. There have been years when we went out for a meal or arranged to each give the other a scheduled break, time to read or leave the house unaccompanied or take an uninterrupted bath, but other years we just seem too busy to work it in. This year was like that. While my Facebook friends were posting upbeat Mother’s Day messages I posted a cranky one about how lesbian moms and straight single moms should be issued a “Dad for the Day” to co-ordinate a day of rest for them."

That year Beth gave me a day off for my birthday, shortly after Mother's Day. I guess she saw the writing on the wall (or on my blog) and realized I needed it. (I was a stay-at-home mom then and she was working full-time.) Once mothering got less intensive, this has all has seemed less relevant, but we still don't do much for Mother's Day, usually just some gifts from the kids, which they are old enough to handle on their own (with a reminder or two).

StephLove said...

p.s. Noah does spell it Mothers' Day, because he has two mothers.

Gillian said...

Yes, a difficult day for many. Glad you found something that works for you.

Nicole said...

I relate to this so much, Maya, in all the ways (except the growing up in India part). Big hugs to you. I get this so much. As an addition, I feel strong resentment that I am the one to send a card to my MIL. If it was up to my husband, she'd never get one. I feel resentful that this is my job but also like I don't want her to NOT have a card, and also, it feels like good karma to do it.

maya said...

StephLove, Your idea of having a (willing) Dad for the Day is genius. I have seen friends step in for single and queer friends around parenting holidays. I must try to do more of it myself.

AND I LOVE that Noah tidbit! There's a New Yorker cartoon https://www.art.com/products/p15063754728-sa-i6856226/william-haefeli-i-have-two-mommies-i-know-where-the-apostrophe-goes-new-yorker-cartoon.htm

Thanks, Gillian. It took me a long time to realize what was important to me.

maya said...

Nicole, Yes, yes, and exactly yes!! I can see how amazing my MIL is to my kids--she deserves to feel happy and special.

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