Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Mother’s Day pressure
Did you know the woman who was largely responsible for making Mother’s Day a national holiday later renounced the day and even lobbied the government to have it removed?
In fact, after spending years lobbying Congress to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, Anna Jarvis was so repulsed by the commercialization of what was meant to simply be a day to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children, she spent the rest of her life and most of her money, fighting to have it abolished. Obviously, to no avail.
Today, the holiday has become an estimated 21.4-billion-dollar industry. I don’t see it ever leaving the national calendar, but it would be so nice to see it revamped.
While florists, card makers, restauranteurs and retailers have come to rely on the second Sunday in May to lift their bottom line, I can’t help but think most moms are more interested in what Anna Jarvis had in mind — a celebration of mom with her family.
A perfect Mother’s Day?
As those who know me well will tell you, when my children were young and especially when I was a single parent, the best gift I could have received on Mother’s Day was time without them.
It was supposed to be my day. Shouldn’t I have been able to spend it peacefully, without any demands for my time or attention? That was my thinking.
An ideal day might have included hours of lounging — simply having a few hours to lose myself in a novel would have been euphoria. I craved time alone.
In recent years, my thinking has changed considerably. Now that the children are adults, time with them is the single greatest gift I can receive.
Flowers are nice. Jewelry is never a bad idea. Certainly, a spa day could find itself somewhere on the list.
But, put any of those options against a few hours of quality time with my kids, there is no contest. I see now that it is something I will never have enough of and I’m a little sad I ever wished it away.
Realizing not everyone has such a relationship has me thinking about the other side of Sunday. It will be a difficult day for many.
A tender time for some
Consider those whose moms have passed on, those who never knew their mom, or those who may be estranged. Mother’s Day, along with all the hype leading up to it, may simply be poking a stick at a very tender wound.
Then there are those who long to be a mother but are not (for any number of reasons) and what I can only imagine to be the most difficult circumstance — moms who have lost a child. Too many of us know a mom grieving this unthinkable loss.
It seems insensitive. Do we really need a day set on a calendar to remind us to love our parent? It is ludicrous.
My oldest brother died just before my 18th birthday. I don’t know how my mother survived that loss. I imagine that when Mother’s Day came around, it was a bit of a bitter pill.
She still had six adult children who (hopefully) showered her with affection, but how could the day ever be joy filled? For that matter, who could any day be? There was no card, no gift, no meal worth more than one more day or one more minute with her baby.
When my Mom was alive, each year in May, I would spend hours trying to find a card that felt right, and I often came away empty handed. She was not a Hallmark Mom, but she was my Mom.
I felt like I came up short more than once. Because what is Mothers’ Day if not a pressure filled keg of expectation for mom, children and dad alike?
Time vs. materials
If we must have a day set aside, could we at least turn away from all the commercialization?
Anna Jarvis was right. Most of the moms I know are not extremely interested in having their children spend a lot of money on them.
Sure, a nice meal out is appreciated, but that is because it means we can spend time together. The older my children get, the more precious those moments become.
Don’t send me flowers or buy me a gift. You don’t need to send a card, for that matter.
Instead, let’s go for a walk and tell me about your dreams. Ask me about mine. That is the most precious gift of all.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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