I recently got an email from a company I have used in the past telling me I could “opt out” of Mother’s Day promotional emails. I may have cried. I’ll be honest, I would have preferred the default to have been requesting people to “opt in,” but the flood of relief I felt when I was assured I would not be bombarded by Mother’s Day promotions was palpable.
Mother’s Day has been a hot topic among my mom-friends recently. None of us enjoy it very much, it come with complicated feelings, mixed emotions, and often a sense of dread. None of us particularly want to celebrate it. I have the friend whose mother died. I have the friend who is a single mom and never felt appreciated on Mother’s Day before the divorce either. I have a friend who leaves her children with her husband and goes out to brunch with her mother to celebrate (her husband takes the children over to his mother’s place).
I have a complicated history with my own mother, with my mother-in-law, with my grandmother, and with being a mother at all. Mother’s Day is like a toddler with a snow globe, it shakes up the feelings, and it takes a little while for things to settle. The events of 2020 and 2021 have added a layer of exhaustion, stress and extra feelings to this.
Please do not ask what my husband or children are doing for me for Mother’s Day. I do not enjoy celebrating Mother’s Day. I do not want to celebrate Mother’s Day. I want to be left alone with coffee and a book. I do not want my husband and children shamed for doing exactly what I asked them to do, because it is Mother’s Day and I am the mother here.
I do not want to want breakfast in bed. I do not want go to brunch. I do not want flowers. I do not want to do laundry, or clean the house, and I do not want all the overlooked chores to pile up for the following day. If other mothers would like those things, they can work that out with their families. I’d like to have my request for a regular weekend respected.
I send my mother and grandmother a card to acknowledge them, and emailed a few recent photos of the children their way as well. Some years I include my mother-in-law, but that is extra emotional labor, and she’s not my mother. I do enough extra emotional labor holding boundaries with her.
This year for Mother’s Day my mother-in-law wants to do “what is best for you” and gave us the option of a) brunch or b) an early dinner together. “What’s best for me” is c) not celebrating and treating it like any other Sunday, but that was not an option presented. We are adults, theoretically we could tell her that we are not going to participate, and yet.
We are going to set boundaries we have some hope of holding.
To the mothers out there, I hope you are able to celebrate (or not) as you’d like. To everyone out there with complicated feelings about this holiday, I see you, you’re not alone.
- Women Asked for an Independence Day, Washington Post
- Anne Lamont on Mother’s Day
- Anna Jarvis & Mother’s Day, Teen Vogue
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