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5/6/11

The Mother's Day Paradox

I know, you are sitting there thinking "Come on Pat, Mother's Day isn't until Sunday!" Yes, I know. But, like so many of you out there, I don't anticipate having a single free minute this weekend, let alone time to sit and commiserate over a well-thought Mother's Day blog post. And for those of you sitting there thinking "You can write it ahead of time and schedule the post to go live on Sunday!" well you are just a smart ass and can shut that mouth of yours.

Every February when Valentine's Day creeps up us, there's a dedicated group of individuals that cry foul and make sure to broadcast their distaste for the holiday.

"It's a fake holiday!"

"It was created by the greeting card companies!"

"It's a crappy holiday if you aren't with somebody!"

"Why can't St. Patrick's Day just be moved up a month so I can get wasted and have Shamrock Shakes sooner!"

Totally valid points. But really, isn't Mother's Day the same sort of contrived holiday? Now before all you Moms out there form a pitchfork and torch-carrying lynch mob, let me say that I feel the same way about Father's Day. And for legitimate, heartfelt reasons, believe it or not!

The history of Mother's Day in North America is actually a pretty strange one. It was first conceptualized by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, who wrote a 'Mother's Day Proclamation' calling for women to join together in a peaceful movement to stop their sons from killing one another in wars.

Now Mother's Day as WE know it was started in 1908 by Anna M. Jarvis in honor of her mother and later signed into national observance by Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Interestingly enough, as time went on and commercialization of the holiday began, Jarvis fought it tooth and nail. She even sued to stop a Mother's Day event in 1923, and was arrested in the 1930's for protesting the sale of flowers at another event.

But here we are, almost 95 years after Jarvis' first Mother's Day, and it's nothing BUT commercialization. Mother's Day cards, Mother's Day flowers, Mother's Day restaurant specials, the 93% off-plus-$20 bonus bucks-and-a-free-tote-bag Mother's Day Sale at JC Penney; it's all a bit much, and probably has Anna Jarvis steamrolling in her grave, ready to send Gloria Allred after all of us.

My other qualm with Mother's Day is the sheer emotional, mental and physical logistics of it. As a kid, Mother's Day is easy. All you really have to worry about is your mom. You slather some rotini in gold paint in Art class, thread it with some yarn and BOOM! you are about to make your mom's year. Beat THAT shit, Dad!

But as you get older, it becomes so much more. Once I turned 18 and as I grew up, I REALLY learned what it meant to appreciate my mother and the many years of love and lessons that she bestowed upon us. Suddenly a spaghetti tennis bracelet just doesn't do the trick anymore.

Not only that, but it stops just being your mom that you think about. For those of us who have children, the amazing work our wives/girlfriends/significant others do as mothers is insanely important. Plus, our mothers then become grandmothers and deserve dual appreciation. And then there are some of us that also include our grandmothers, godmothers, etc. into the mix and it suddenly becomes a struggle to show heartfelt appreciation for multiple people in a 24 hour period (and that's if you don't sleep). Yikes!

Anna Jarvis bout to get legal on yo ass.

Look, don't get me wrong. I love nothing more than showing my wife and mom signs of appreciation and letting them know how special they are to me. But I almost look at it as an injustice to THEM to try to cram it into a day or half-day's worth of events that has to meet the Kay Jewelers commercial standard of what Mother's Day is.

My wife is an absolutely incredible mother. I look at her like the LeBron James of parenting. And by that, I don't mean I anticipate her announcing that she's going to be taking her mothering skills elsewhere. But as someone who became a mother fairly young, it is truly jaw-dropping how great she is at it. From day one, she has shown the most impressive display of nurturing and care. It's an amazing feeling being 100% confident that my daughter will grow up to be a caring, loving individual with strong morals all because of the perfect role model she has in my wife. She approaches motherhood with simultaneous senses of seriousness and humor, determination and humility. Seriously, it's like she drops a motherhood triple-double every day of her life.

And when it comes to my Mom, what can I say? I think we could celebrate 'Mother's Day' every day of the year for the next 25 years and it wouldn't make up for all that she's done for me since I came into her life. As an adopted child, I've had people in the past ask me if Mother's Day and Father's Day are 'weird' holidays to celebrate. Typically, after I've resisted the strong urge to punch these people in the jugular for being idiots, it's an easy answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT. My Mom is my Mom. She's taught me so many incredible things in my life time and I owe her so much. Whenever I'm being stupid or obnoxious, my Mom always jokingly says 'I tried to raise him well, I really did!" Well you did, Mom. More than well.

Last month on my birthday, my Mom told me that her proudest moment of me so far in my life was one time when I bought a homeless guy lunch at Wendy's. That was it! Not graduating college, not this accomplishment or that, but something that represented values. And I hope she realizes that those values have been bred from the impeccable job that her and my Dad have done raising me.

My wife and Mom may not even read this, but if they do, I hope they really realize how much they mean to me, and how much the people they ARE mean to me. Will I do everything I can to make their Mother's Day special and show them that I care? Of course I will, because I love them. But will it still feel like 'not enough', and a poor compensation for the spectacular things that they've done as mothers every day since they had children?

Absolutely, and I think old Anna Jarvis would give me a fist bump on that one.

1 comments:

First off, I want to say that Anna Jarvis was a prude. Secondly, I liked this post,

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