Surviving The Cynicism of Mother’s Day
I’m ambivalent about Mother’s Day. I hate admitting this feeling, but there you have it.
My disposition has nothing to do with how I feel about my FABULOUS mother (remember last year’s post) any more than my ambivalence about Valentine’s Day reflects on my marriage.
No, none of the usual excuses apply.
I cherish my mother and value her in ways I can’t describe. She is woven into the way I think, my propensity to drive a little too fast, and my willingness to have a home where people are constantly popping in.
The best of me is rooted in who she is.
In a similar vein, all is well with feeling honored at home. I love my kids and I love being a mom. My husband and the kids go out of their way to make the day fun, and, by Sunday evening, I get over my “meh” ness, and I’m glad we’ve celebrated.
Still, I’ve spent the better part of this week wrestling with a lingering cynicism.
I don’t enjoy the role of cynic and flee from those who do, but on this occasion, that’s where I go. I compare Mother’s Day to Valentine’s Day, feeling like the holiday is a scam, and I can’t wait to get on with “normal” life.
Why is this?
There’s nothing inherently bad about honoring people, but all of the attention feels undeserved. I feel as if I’m at an awards banquet, walking away with a trophy when I’ve lost more games than I’ve won. I think this is the crux of my ambivalence.
I struggle being honored for something that is clearly a “work in progress.”
I know how often my temper gets the better of me and how frequently my attitude needs significant adjusting. I willingly feed my kids Kraft Mac N Cheese and food that’s inorganic despite having Facebook posts tell me this will rot my children from the inside out. That time I screamed at my kid in the doctor’s office? Well, I think about that day all of the time. (Who does that?!) What about the clipped answers and strident “NO!” or a sarcastic jab which fill in where a gentle word would have been better?
I would bore you with a full list. You get the idea.
I am constantly aware of when I act like a child instead of a parent, and yet improvement is so very slow.
Maybe it’s true of just me and my circle of friends, but I don’t know a single woman who is fully confident in her parenting or “mothering” skills. I am certainly in that crowd.
Worse still, I can see my faults transfer to my kids even though I desperately want them to be more patient, less self-involved, and more thoughtful than I am. I don’t FEEL as if I’ve earned the trophy, so I’d rather skip the fuss. This isn't a plea for affirmation, honestly, but a recognition that the fuss feels out of step with the reality of my life.
Then it occurred to me, perhaps I’m a Mother’s Day Grinch. At the risk of being dramatic, maybe my heart is two sizes too small.
Yikes. No one wants to be that guy.
Then I realize, in order to shed the Grinch skin, to hear the song from Whoville, I have to look beyond the icky commercialism. I have to recognize that today isn’t about perfection, it’s about process; it’s not about being “the best,” but about staying engaged with the family.
Children aren’t looking for a perfect mom, but one who belongs to them, imperfections and all.
And so today I’ll do my best to reframe the Hallmark-esq ideas. I will think differently, and, with apologies to Dr. Seuss, I’ll be humming…
Welcome, Welcome Fah who rah-moose Welcome, Welcome Dah who dah-moose Mother’s day is in our grasp So long as we have hands to clasp