Monday, May 13, 2013

A Mother's Day Reality (alternatively titled "Where the H*#$ is my Macaroni Pen Holder?!)

As a daughter, I think celebrating Mother’s Day is great! As a mother... I’m not so sure. I heard a lot of talk this weekend from friends about how they fully expected their Mother’s Day expectations to be dashed. Some knew they would be spending all of Mother’s Day prepping for a dinner to host their own mothers. Some had days full of kid’s dress rehearsals and activities while others had responsibilities at church or elsewhere. I had a missing husband and oldest child. The common denominator in all of the conversations was that the coming Sunday would NOT be the relaxing and pampering day that the commercial industry would like us to believe it will be. Full of happy moms getting breakfast in bed from tiny children, huge flower bouquets and sunny days, commercials lead you to a sense of false security in this alleged ‘day off’. The reality of the day is not on the fault of the family. It’s not a lazy husband or naughty kids that turn a commercially marketed ‘special day’ into just a regular ol’ day, it’s just reality. There is a little meme going around the internet that says “Moms, the only people who know the true meaning of 24-7”, and that is the simple truth. 

One of the things that strikes me about Mother’s Day is that it’s on Sunday. At one point in time Sunday was meant to be a day of rest. The aforementioned meme makes me wonder if there every was such a thing as a ‘day of rest’ for moms. If, in this day and age, we spent all of Saturday prepping for Sunday and then spent the day visiting, in fellowship, playing outside and eating pre-prepared food, then yes, what a delightful day it would be!!! Sundays over here are usually rushed and packed with activities. Plus you have to make sure everyone’s ready for the week. Homework done? Food for lunches? It’s anything but a day of rest - what happened? 

Yesterday started for me with the littlest jumping in bed and giving me a big hug and kiss and a “Happy Mother’s Day!” Then the second youngest did the same. With my husband at work I had heard talk the night before of attempting to make waffles for me. I would have been just as happy with a smoothie but they were determined. With the third youngest and veteran waffle maker still in bed, I had a feeling this might not goes as well as planned! After a few yells up the stairs of “Does t-s-p mean teaspoon?” and “How do you ‘separate an egg’”? I heard “OOoohhhh FAIL!” It’s time to get up. Bless their souls, my youngest had set the table and the waffle ingredients were all laid out on the counter. Our lazy morning turned into a lesson of egg separation and egg white folding, using muscles for whisking and wonderment at how the waffle iron knows when to switch the light to green. There was happy chatter of the previous night’s hockey game and a few practice bars of the song for the morning’s church performance. Breakfast in bed? Nah, this is better. 

Though there is always stuff to do at home, things like the dishes will always be there later (and left to the late arriving husband!) so let’s take off with good friends for frozen yogurt - and spot a moose! Value Village? Let’s go! Eventually we were back home, playing outside, gardening and the hubs came home with Chinese take out. The dishes were still there, the chores didn’t get done. But we did have a great day. 

I crawled into bed exhausted and wondered about where it all started. We know the origins of most of the popular holidays we celebrate and most involve an historic event or person. Which Mother was it? Was it Eve, the mother of all mothers? Or did the government just decide one day we needed to celebrate our moms. So I looked it up. 

Not in any way related to festivals, religious or cultural celebrations honouring mothers over the course of history, the present day Mother’s Day that we celebrate was started with an American woman named Anna Jarvis. She held a memorial for her late mother and then campaigned for 6 years to have it made an official holiday. She was successful in 1914 but by the 20s she was already working to boycott the commercialization of the holiday. She and her sister spent their family inheritance on their new cause, even being arrested while protesting. She was disgusted by the way the holiday had turned:

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.
—Anna Jarvis.”

Ouch Anna!

Nearly 100 years later Mother’s Day remains one of the most commercially successful holidays in North America. 

Presents are a funny thing on Mother’s Day. Actually at any time, but maybe that’s another post. This year I got each of the kids a gift. They're the reason I'm a mom so I thought I'd give them each a little something! It was a fun twist. 

As a kid, I worked my butt off glueing slippery macaroni to small baby food jars and then spray painting them gold. They must have been awful to receive! I know now how proud kids are, how upset they are when you don’t keep stuff and how desperately they want you to use these items. I would have loved a macaroni pen holder this year. I received something much larger that I asked for because I knew we were getting it anyway and wanted a time line on it! But then realized that it’s really no fun asking for gifts. You want someone to show you they know you. To give you something big or small that says “I really know you!” or “I worked hard on this!” Not, “I threw this together” or “I ran out to get you a gift” or “I meant to get you something... but...” 

So really, instead of big gifts or asking for specific stuff I’m gonna leave next year well alone. I think I’d like to pull back a bit from the pressure of the day. The intense build up. The high expectations. I want hugs, macaroni jars and time to play with the kids. Keep it simple. Then get back to real life which is inevitable. 


Mamamadu said...

I am glad you are blogging again, I love to read your writing. I always love my hand-made cards and pasta creations on mother's day. Yesterday my eldest offered to do the dishes and fold the laundry, because it was Mother's Day and I should be able to have a break - I have to admit, I loved the initiative and the gesture.

CJ Thiessen said...

Definitely. I do like having the "you can't whine (or argue or complain or fight) because it's Mother's Day" card. Offering to do little things like the dishes or whatever is lovely. Especially if it's on their initiative!