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