I grew up in an anti-Hallmark family in which Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were ignored particularly loudly.
“They’re made-up holidays that big companies are just trying to get you to spend money on,” my own single mom confided when I was a kid. This made me feel savvy and consumer literate, like I had one up on the tchotchke-buying masses. No needlepoint samplers or Strawberry Shortcake mugs with A Berry Special Mom on them for my clear-eyed, lefty mother. “I always love it when you think of me, but for God’s sake, not because some billion-dollar corporation tells you to.”
Then I married into a more conventional family and had twins and realized that if clasping my bra made me feel I deserved a medal some days, then I was sure as shit going to take my appreciation any which way I could get it. I no longer cared that Mother’s Day was a cloying, sentimental capitalist ruse to part us from our money—if there was chocolate and maybe a brunch to be had, I was going to have it! And it really was nice to feel special and feted and appreciated, whether with a glittery, misspelled card or an afternoon to myself, courtesy of my husband. Once I even dragged my mom to my in-laws to share in the made-up-holiday joy, and she kept her radical views to herself.
Now I’ve been divorced for four years. While my kids’ dad wishes me a Happy Mother’s Day and reminds the kids about it, the only way there’s going to be a celebration is if—like most everything else—I orchestrate it. I passed the CVS this morning and saw the Mother’s Day marketing and had the same sinking feeling I had last year: Oh, no. Please. Can’t just this one thing be someone else’s job?
Suddenly, the celebratory brunch seems oppressive
But whose? My ex and I are friendly but it’s not on him, and besides, he has a mother to attend to. My boyfriend thinks I’m a good mom, but I’m not his children’s mom. And my kids are, well, kids. They’re 12 and need prodding to do the things that benefit them, like bringing their lunches and charging their phones—never mind something that benefits me. As generous as they are with spontaneous shows of love and appreciation, if I wanted them to plan a Mother’s Day event for me, I’d have to oversee it to the extent that I might as well just do it myself.
Which feels like such a chore—and now that I’m divorced, a chore imposed by billion-dollar corporations designed to make me feel left out that no one is rushing around on May 10th to make me feel extra appreciated!
I’m TIRED, in part from being a bang-up mom (if I do say so myself, which, like most single parents, I do, because I’m the one who notices these things!) I’m too tired to find a restaurant, encourage my kids to make something for me (plus, as they would say, awkward!) and then graciously receive my kudos and coffee mug on the designated day, as if I didn’t basically demand to be honored.
No, this Mother’s Day, my plan is to do nothing. I may silently give myself a little bit of extra love and say thanks if my kids remember, but mostly I’m just going to subversively boycott the holiday and call it subversive, because you know what? I’m tired. Fight the power.
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