I can't speak for the heartbroken mothers whose children aren't here to celebrate with them on Mother's Day. I can't speak to the quality of grief of people whose mothers aren't here to be celebrated - I imagine it's a hollow ache but I don't know for sure. I can't speak for those whose mothers yet live, but who badly hurt their children, mothers who might be called "complex" on a charitable day.
My children are living and healthy; my own mother is alive and healthy and is one of my closest friends.
I can't claim I have a genuine complaint for thinking of Mother's Day as a bummer. For me, it's a lot more about Charlie Brown, Zales, and self-pity.
You know how everyone loses their minds on New Year's Eve? All of a sudden the people who spend 364 nights a year watching PBS documentaries are all "I'm still cool! I should be out tonight!" So you see them at like 10:45 pm wearing glitter wandering around the Convention Center with a cold slice of Sbarro in one hand and their shoes in the other, saying, "where is everybody? Is it midnight yet?"
I feel like that on Mother's Day, except instead of the hot party, I'm looking for brunch, and a single gift that symbolizes the amount of love, gratitude, and high esteem... nay, the WONDER that my family cannot help but feel when they gaze upon my works.
(well, you try taking an awe-inspiring photograph of a basket of clean, folded baby clothes.)
It wouldn't be so bad if there weren't this expectation in the air, the possibility of something really magical and epic and rom-commy happening and taking you completely by surprise.
Mother's Day expectations are the football-holding-Lucy of my life.
And I am dumb old Charlie Brown. I get suckered back in. Every single time.
Here's the basic conversation that happens in my head:
Me: Oh right, Mother's Day is next weekend. I should remind Ryan to put some plans together for me and his mom. Something casual. Picnic lunch?
Lucy: I bet he's already planned something. I bet he already has something really amazing planned just for you.
Me: I doubt that. He's been really busy and we have two young kids, so...
Lucy: But you work so hard for your family. And this is the one day of the year that you can feel loved and appreciated and special. And Ryan knows that.
Me: Well, that's true... I do work really hard...
Lucy: And if he doesn't really pull out all the stops and make this entire day like a complete dream come true, then... I guess it means he doesn't love you.
Me: That seems a little extreme, Lucy.
Lucy: Is it? Watch this Zales commercial.
Me: Wow, that is so sweet. Ryan would totally do something like that.
Lucy: OMG he's totally getting you a diamond !
Me: Wait... did he say something to you about getting me a diamond?
Lucy: (wink) I'm just saying, the Mother's Day gift that you receive and the intricacy and value of the activities planned on Mother's Day correlate directly with your value as a human being and a mother. Is all I'm saying.
Me: That logic is 100% consistent with the Zales commercial.
So to recap, I start the Mother's Day Season with no expectations. By the time the sun comes up on Mother's Day I'm already crying.
Flowers? FLOWERS? What am I, a hummingbird? So I guess I'm just worth like $7.99 at Safeway? Is that it? I'm just like a bunch of half-withered daisies? Is that what I am to you? It is, isn't it. Do we need therapy? Are we getting a divorce now? Because these flowers smell like pre-divorce flowers. MEMO TO YOU, "RYAN." Next time you're going to spend under 8 bucks on a pre-divorce gift, go for the plastic flask of bourbon.
Aaaaalright, crazy. Bring 'er on back in now.
What's extra maddening here is that I STARTED OUT THE MONTH OF MAY AS A REASONABLE PERSON. I started THIS WEEK as a reasonable person! But skanky old Lucy whispered in my ear and now I'm like sad that I am just getting exactly what I asked for on Mother's Day.
Mother's Day feels like a mean joke every year. Not just on Mothers, but on all who love them. There's nothing we can do, the children and spouses, to meet the expectations of our wives, sisters, friends, and mothers. Because Lucy's been dripping her Zales-sponsored poison in their ears too:
It doesn't matter how much they love you all year long, if they don't love you enough and in just the exact right way on this one day.
Mother's Day is a scam. Just like any other holiday driven by ad campaigns and the churning swamp of competitive Facebook floral arrangement photography.
"76 pink roses, breakfast in bed, and DIAMONDS! Best hubby ever!"
So this year I'm just not.
I'm telling Lucy to take that football and shove it directly into her own whimsically animated rectum, to the tune of a jazzy little piano ditty. I'm not watching any diamond commercials or putting all my eggs in this one day's basket.
I'm getting what I wanted - a morning with my family and an afternoon to myself. It makes me happy to think about it. I'm content. It's okay. It helps that today, out of the clear blue sky, Chicken said, "I love you so much, Mommy."
Well shit. I'm not about to pout about diamonds when I've got this treasure.
Is it possible that this is how grown-ups feel?