Hey, friends. Let’s take an unscheduled trip down to Rantytown, shall we? Oh, it’ll be fun. Maybe. Or not. Either way, come on, let’s go!
It’s Mother’s Day this weekend. I don’t like Mother’s Day. Don’t get me wrong. I like mothers, in general, but I have an inexplicable hatred for made-up bullshit. You know how single people hate Valentine’s Day because they don’t like being single and everywhere they look there are shmoopy (unusually attractive, usually white, and almost always heterosexual) couples getting shoved in their faces? That is not about love. That’s about marketing to a lack of something in people’s lives. Mother’s Day is the same thing. The lack, in this case, being appreciation for moms (or whatever human fills a mom-like capacity in your life – that’s a mouthful and I don’t want to have to say it every time, so just take it as a given that in my head and heart I am including stepmoms, grandmas, single dads, aunties, foster moms, big sisters, mentors, or whoever else raised you and didn’t fuck you up too horribly). I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but I appreciate the shit out of my mother. She’s a beautiful weirdo and I adore her. I don’t need a special day designed to guilt me into buying her stuff so I can show her that appreciation. I just pick up the phone and call her and tell her (admittedly, not often enough – hi, mom!). Taking that time and that energy should not be an act born of guilt or obligation. And even if we show our gratitude for our moms with enthusiasm, we should do it all the time and not just on a designated day. This is why The Husband and I don’t do Valentine’s Day, in a nutshell. We’ve already got anniversaries and birthdays to deal with.
Hallmark fuckery aside, there are two other things on my list of complaints about Mother’s Day, and I know they’re going to seem only tangentially related. Hear me out. Thing the first: people without moms. These folks fall into a couple of different categories and are, in my experience, differently affected by Mother’s Day. There are those who never had a biological mom in their life. They were put up for adoption, left with a home or with trusted others, or orphaned. They may have had an adoptive mom or a foster mom or a stepmom and been raised in perfectly normal, loving homes, but some of them still have deep-seated mom issues (which basically boil down to trust issues and concerns about abandonment and commitment). Intellectually I can wrap my brain around that, but I have no idea what that pain or confusion feels like. Then there are those who have lost their mom, biological or otherwise, late enough in life to have known and loved her. Mother’s Day is a sharp jab in the feels for these people. That I can relate to. I get all weepy on Father’s Day even though I don’t really remember it being a big deal for us when he was alive. And of course, let’s not forget the hordes of absolutely shitty moms that many, many people would rather never think about at all. Those creatures who are abusive or cruel to their kids, absentee or apathetic, drunk or strung out, who in some way make their kids feel unsafe, unloved, unhappy, doing the opposite of their jobs as moms. Again, I don’t know what any of that is like, but I can’t imagine that this is an easy holiday for those who do.
I don’t have a solution for you. If Mother’s Day makes you feel icky for any of these reasons I don’t know how to make it better. The advertising alone, putting aside the conversational blah blah, is ubiquitous and difficult to avoid, so just keeping your head down and soldiering on is probably hard. And isn’t that weird? I feel like Father’s Day is much easier to ignore. In a patriarchal and male-driven advertising culture, it’s strange that Mother’s Day is the bigger deal. Of course, we’ve also got a whackton of deadbeat dads, so maybe we’re trying to keep the focus off that issue? I don’t know. I do know that the money is different. Lunch specials don’t apply at most restaurants on Mother’s Day, for example. Because they know that you’re just going to take her out for a quick bite, rather than buying her the shiny new grill like Dad’s getting next month. Moms get dead hothouse flowers and some chocolate and maybe lunch, while dads get appliances and power tools. Weird.
So yeah, anyway. If you’re having a hard time with this holiday because of your mom situation, I send you hugs. Big, bosomy, matronly hugs.
Moving on. Thing the second: babies rabies. I am 32 years old. Honestly, it’s been at least five years since I last remember having zero pregnant people in my life. Just this past month friends and family have birthed four more babies, and I have one more buddy who’s due this fall. I expect this from my contemporaries at my age. It’s beautiful and I’m so happy for them all. However.
I also know plenty of people without children, and for some that can make Mother’s Day difficult. On the one hand there are those who want to have kids but can’t. Again, they’re getting poked in the feels by this holiday. But more than that, by our culture. It’s ingrained in them to feel as though they’ve failed in some way just because their bits don’t function properly. And to you ladies I say: Fuck. That. Noise. You’re a mom, even if you haven’t had a spawn of your own yet. You’re a mom in your mind and in your heart. You haven’t failed or done anything wrong. Keep up the boots-knockery, if it’s healthy and you’re able, and look into adopting or fostering if you’re up for it. There are thousands of kids who need a good, loving home. And, speaking of those kids, let’s all keep fighting the good fight so our LGBT brethren and sistren can provide those homes in every state. Our ratio of kids without homes to homes without kids could be so much better if we got our puritanical heads out of our asses in big parts of this country.
And then on the other hand there are those of us who are childless by choice. Some of us just don’t want kids right now (yes, I am aware of my age, thank you – no, that is not a factor in this decision, thank you). Some don’t want kids ever and that, too, is perfectly okay. I’ll say it again: there is nothing wrong with not wanting children. Nothing. Childless people aren’t weird or evil or wrong or pointless. They’re just people. With a lot more free time. I don’t feel like Mother’s Day in particular gets to me because I don’t have any kids, it’s more of an ongoing struggle. I get looks, you know? Those faces when people aren’t sure whether or not to ask me if I don’t have kids because I can’t or because I just don’t want to, like the answer to that inappropriate question could be followed up with inappropriate goading, like that goading would have any effect whatsoever on my very private lifestyle choices. Here’s a thought, you face-giving people: stop even thinking about asking. And if you can’t contain your overwhelming lack of social graces and you must ask, I very well may come up with an outlandish lie specifically designed to make you feel like shit for bringing up the subject. It’s been known to happen. When I say I don’t have kids the next appropriate question is not “Why not?”. The next appropriate response is not an “Ohhhhh” or an “Awwwww” laced with pity. When I am in any sort of proximity to a larval human, that is categorically not an invitation or an excuse to bring up the subject of my personal uterus. In fact, unless you are the bearer of the penis with which I have a legal binding contract or the doctor whom I hired for the care and upkeep of said uterus, I don’t think you should ever consider its current occupation or hostile takeover a possible topic of conversation without my provocation. Clear?
What’s the obsession with babies? Not just with having babies, but with other people’s babies? The new little princess of England, for example. Everyone lost their shit over her and all I could think was that if I live to be a hundred she might end up the Queen. I know more about Beyonce’s kid than I do quite a few members of my own family. I’m super stoked that Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman are having a kid and actually teared up the other night when I realized I’d get to watch these icons raise this kid and send it off to college to do awesomeness upon the world. I would dote endlessly upon my friends’ kids and be that weird auntie if I didn’t live a half a world away. But maybe I am damaged in some small, irrelevant way, because I do not yearn to spawn. Apparently there’s some ache I’m supposed to have by now, some jealous drooling I’m expected to do over other people’s motherhood. Frankly, it’s the last thing on my mind. And when I do picture myself with kids, they’re big kids, not babies. I’d be happy to skip that exhausted, shit on everything I own, waking up to someone screaming part of this adventure. The Husband wants to do all that stuff, and I will let him. If only he had functional boobs.
Sorry, I got way off track there. Lots of twists and turns in the shadier parts of Rantytown. I guess my bigger point is that we should all lavish appreciation and affection on our mothers (or mother-like figures) all the time and not buy into this idea that we can set it aside for later. There may not be a later, you guys. Call your mom when you think about her. If you don’t have one, or you hate yours, call someone else’s mom and tell them what a good job they did. Send your mother-in-law something awesome and fun (not dead flowers!) on your spouse’s birthday. Donate to your local kid’s home or youth center or mentoring program. Open doors for parents with strollers. Keep your fucking mouth shut when you see someone breastfeeding. Babysit for your buddies who are tired. People raising people, man, that’s a noble job. They deserve more than some cheap trinkets on one day a year.