Friday, May 13, 2016

Mothers Day

How do you feel about this holiday?

I recently learned (thanks Flipboard app!) that it became an official holiday in the United States in 1914 thanks to Ann Jarvis of West Virginia. Her mother passed away in 1905 and Ann began campaigning at that time for a national holiday to celebrate Mothers. Woodrow Wilson is the president who finally signed it into law.

And you thought it was a Hallmark holiday. Tsk, tsk.

By 1920, Ann Jarvis was fed up with the commercialization of the holiday and spent the remainder of her life protesting and trying to get the law rescinded. One other notable fact in this holidays history is that both Ann and President Wilson were clear in their use of the word Mothers being a singular possessive referring to your mother only and not mothers around the world. Weirdly specific, right?

Now that I've provided you with your history lesson for the week, let me share/rant about why this resonates with me. First, and foremost, I like that a daughter wanted this holiday to honor her mom. It's sweet. I'm unclear on why it needed to be a national holiday, but hey, a celebration is a celebration. Secondly, I love the specifics that it is to celebrate your mother only, I feel pretty passionate about this part, and also confused. Finally, the commercialization of it all is nonsense. In todays instamedia saturated world, it's just the worst.

My Mothers Day this year was filled with facebook posts of moms being pampered and adored. I hope it made Ann feel good in her afterlife to see some of the results of her work. It generally made me feel junky that my kids had forgotten and were behaving like cretons. I may have allowed myself to wallow a bit. I did feel joy for others joy too, I promise. My favorite post was a friend who took a picture of her table. The picture showed 2 presents wrapped up on it with handmade cards (I think) and a pile of folded laundry. Her comment was something about how the presents were from her kids and the best present was that her husband had done all of the laundry and she felt loved. So sweet, and I think most definitely Ann Jarvis approved.

That Facebook post is not how my Mothers Day ever goes. Don't get me wrong, my husband and children are wonderful, but this holiday does not make them appear so. I don't help matters. I always say I don't want anything or I just want a clean house, they don't believe me, and we all end up feeling weird about things. I have now officially asked my husband to strike Mothers Day from our family calendar and treat it like an average day. He's says I'm waving the white flag and giving up, I say I'm saving myself and it really will be better this way. I'm pretty sure he thinks it's some sort of convoluted guilt trap, I assure him it's not, we agree to disagree. Time will tell.

This year I spent the bulk of my day getting angrier and angrier at a bowl. It wasn't healthy. Just so you don't report me to the authorities, I don't want to end up in a sanitorium like Ann, I'll give you some background. I let my kids sleep in the living room the night before. The only rule for this special treat is that you clean up the space in the morning. They did not follow this rule. No matter how many times I brought it up throughout the day, at least some of the mess would remain. The final straw was the popcorn bowl in the middle of my floor. It was always someone else's job and kept getting pushed aside until the sight of it just made me feel unloved and ignored and angry. Beware the power a bowl can hold!

My husband tried to make things nice for me, but I didn't really allow it because I agree with Ann Jarvis and Woodrow Wilson. Mothers Day is a day to celebrate YOUR mother. I am not his mother. He should focus on her. I should focus on my mother. My kids should focus on me. Realistically, and logistically, this holiday wasn't very well thought out, it's very crowded sharing with all these people, and someone is bound to be let down. My husband offered to make me breakfast, an hour after I had made it myself. He announced he would handle lunch for everyone, just as I was taking the food off the stove that I had cooked for everyone. After getting my feelings hurt when I asked my son to go for a walk and he countered with, could we ride bikes instead (no! no we can't. because that's not what I asked to do on my freakin special day. Also my bike tire is flat.)  My husband offered to go for a walk with me (he hates walks and he had just injured his knee which was swollen to 3x it's normal size). Bottom line though, he didn't need to do anything for me, his day should have been focused on his mom. My kids need to be capable of remembering and celebrating my amazingness all on their own (or with very slight prodding and prompting) for this holiday to even have a chance at success.

Finally, the commercialization! Ann Jarvis wanted Mothers Day to be about remembrance. People were to wear a white carnation if their mother had died and a red carnation if they were still alive. She wanted children to give handwritten notes proclaiming their love and thankfulness towards their mothers. This idea quickly gave way to floral bouquets, boxes of candy, preprinted greeting cards with only a signature from the child and commericals pushing hundreds of products to buy for Mothers to show your love. Personally, I've had enough with all of it. My kids make me things, write me notes and give me presents whenever the mood strikes them (or someone tells them too). It's not usually something to brag to the world about but it melts my heart and makes me happy. I don't need a special day or a special gift to have this happen. The pressure is just too much. In the end, I just need them to grow up to be good people (and eventually be able to say nice things to me without being told to).

Realistically, Mothers Day (and Fathers Day, but we could do a whole other post on that!) ends up being a day where you often just want a break from all that makes you a mother. That's kind of weird, right? Something has gone terribly wrong with this holiday. I want it to go back to carnation wearing and handwritten notes. If it can't be that, I just want a normal day. If I'm waving the white flag, so be it. I vow never to sit and stare angrily at the empty popcorn bowl, because it's supposed to be my special day and why can't they be nice to me and just listen for once, ever again. I'll still stare at it angrily when they ignore me as a I ask them to pick it up. I'm not perfect.

No? Is it just me? You love Mother's Day and all it entails? I sincerely do hope that your Mothers Day was wonderful and that you felt loved all day long. I won't begrudge you your happiness, I promise :) Don't begrudge me my right to an average, normal, run of the mill sort of day either. Deal?

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