I do not like mothers’ day. I have not liked it since grade two and I continue to dislike it.
Let me explain. When I was in grade two I was in a split class. There was a boy in my class who was in the older grade. We were only in the same class that one year. I did not know him. I knew that he seemed pretty nice. He was a quiet boy. I knew that his mother had died. When you’re a kid knowledge like that is overwhelming. It may not have been ever-present in his mind but it was in mine. I didn’t know how to talk to him. He sat next to me for a while. He sat next to me while we were making our gifts for our mothers. He was making his for his grandmother. He could have been very happy making her a gift. I didn’t know, I couldn’t look him in the eye during those art classes. I fastidiously glued my spray painted macaroni onto my soup can which would hold the pansies that we were planting. I felt sick to my stomach each and every day that we worked on those gifts. Maybe that’s why pansies always scared me, they looked like angry faces to me. Flowers shouldn’t have faces. I know it’s weird. Anyway that was the beginning of my dislike for this contrived holiday.
Once I was married and we were ready to have kids and it just wasn’t happening I liked the holiday even less. It was salt in my open wound.
Then my kids started bringing me home their crafts from school and all I could think is, this is so sweet but were any children hurt in the making of this gift? We live in a society where families take on many shapes and forms. They do not always contain a mother and a father. We are so sensitive to matters of religion, having all white classes inclusively singing Kwanza songs, why aren’t we more sensitive to this issue?
More than the gifts that the kids have ever made for me I love the things they have written for me. Those, ‘I love my mother because she…’ lettters that I have received. But, I don’t need to get that from the school. I tell my children all the time why I love them and why they matter to me. We need to be freer with our expression of our love.
Don’t tell me that on this date my children will tell me that they love me and I will tell my mother that I love her. If we need an institutionalized greeting card holiday to do this then we are in trouble.
My kids think I’m a little crazy because (well, there are probably many reasons) I won’t tell them that I love them if they say it first and I don’t want them repeating it to me if I say it to them. When they say it to me I always respond with “Thank you very much, that means a lot to me.” When I explained it to my daughter she said to me, “I get it, it’s like regifting, but that doesn’t mean we don’t mean it.” I know they mean it, I just want them to realize it on their own. Those three words are so beautiful when spoken from the heart and so meaningless when robotically repeated back to us.
So tell the people that you love that you love them. Mean it when you say it and say it when you mean it.