Let’s be clear about one thing: I have no problem with my mother, only with Mother’s Day.
I love my mother dearly. In fact, I love her with a searing, consuming love that demands of me the witness of my entire life. I carry around with me a desire to make her proud, to repay her miraculous love by existing well.
Also, I rather enjoy holidays. The liturgical calendar is one of my major interests. When St Margaret’s Day rolls around I can celebrate with the best of them (I celebrate both Margaret of Scotland and Margaret Mary, in case you are keeping track). But like many people these “Hallmark Holidays” aggravate me. I don’t have much use for Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day.
(I love my father too. I love him in a way that can’t be summed up with a gift-wrapped grill accessory advertised with some sketch designed to imply that all men are morons.)
I resist anything that tries to fit us into boxes, and these manufactured holidays do exactly that. You’re only doing Mother’s Day “right” if your mother (or daughter) is alive, if you both get along, if you have discretionary income, if you are a woman who plans to be a mother or who wants to be a mother or who is happy to be defined for a few hours by your capacity to gestate.
The best holidays invite us into mystery. Religious holidays – and many patriotic ones – remind us that we are part of something beyond ourselves. Rather than demanding a certain affect or lifestyle they meet us where we are and gently reorient us toward a larger truth.
I’m sure I will call my mother on Mother’s Day. It is a Sunday after all, and I enjoy our Sunday conversations if only because she recaps where everyone sat at church the night before. I will wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, and mean it, because I want her to be happy. I will remind myself that I am fortunate to have her every day, not just once a year, and to be able to show my love in ways that don’t fit a mold or cost a penny.
What’s your take on Mother’s Day?