Why I Don’t Like Mother’s Day

Julia Schneemann | LaughsLaughs
I love my mom, don’t get me wrong. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

If you clicked on this article, you may agree with me and are looking for support, or you are already enraged, ready to judge me, tar and feather me, and throw me before the internet trolls. You might label me a mother- or child-hating, barren, spinster-lesbian. I am none of those. Just to put it out there. I love my mom and am a mother of three, sometimes more, sometimes less adorable children, who I would die for. There, I said it. But that does not mean that I have to like Mother’s Day. I don’t. I really don’t. And before you yell click-bait and dismiss this article, hear me out. I have some valid reasons.

First of all: why do we need a specific day? Why do we need to be told by society that the second Sunday of May (sorry Brits, I know it’s a different day for you) is the one day of the year that we honor our mothers? Shouldn’t we, for starters, be celebrating them every day?

Maybe it is growing up with a mom who thought the day was a ridiculous Hallmark holiday that made me critical of the notion that we need an annual reminder to love our mothers. I am not sure as to why (I should probably ask her that today); maybe it is because she was a teacher who spent 30 years having to conjure up romantic notions for other kids’ moms, who knew that beautiful card with a footprint or printed poem was from the teacher and not the child.

I remember that back in my day, when pottery was all the rage, my mom would sigh at the start of the week and go, “Whatever you do, please don’t bring home an ashtray. No one in our family smokes!”  I still don’t know why an entire generation was forced for years at elementary school to make ashtrays for their moms — the tobacco lobby has something to answer for. Each year, my brother and I would become increasingly creative with other items you could make out of an ash-tray-sized lump of clay. His crowning moment was a vase large enough for one very short-stemmed flower, mine an egg cup that is too small for an actual egg, but to this day sits on my mom’s night desk and holds her rings at night. Rather than for romantic notions, my mother keeps it as a triumphant display of her children’s ability to break (ashtray) norms. And this is probably the number one reason I don’t like Mother’s Day: I have never liked conforming to the norm. Societal pressure is lost on me. If everyone is asked to clap along, arms overhead, at a concert, you will find me with my hands firmly in my pockets.

Which non-smoking mom is not yearning for a clay ashtray? | Picture: unknown Etsy find

But personal quirks and ashtray jokes aside: why do we need to be told by society that today is the day we tell our moms we love her? Shouldn’t we tell her every day? I know it is corny and unrealistic, and maybe you were fighting with your mom and could not make it yourself. But to be honest, the pressure to make this one day perfect makes it more prone to end in a fight.

Do we have to put all issues and grievances aside for this one day and send a card and buy some flowers that will invariably wilt, unlike (hopefully) our love for our mom? Let’s face it: restaurants are booked out and have a fixed menu on Mother’s Day, of which you may not even like half the courses offered for the overpriced Mother’s Day special. If you don’t conform to societal norms, does that mean you are a horrible child? And vice versa, if your son or daughter does not call you on Mother’s Day, does that mean you failed as a mom? Shouldn’t what counts be the moments you spend together without society pressuring you to do so?

My most treasured moments with my kids are genuine moments not fabricated by societal expectations on a given day:

  • The time my daughter pulled me onto the dance floor when all the other teenagers were cringing at the sight of their parents at their dance.
  • When my son and I were in the fun park in Vail, a snowboarder asked, “Is that your son?” And when I nodded, thinking he would say something complimentary about my son’s park skills, I said, “That’s so cool; my mom would never go in the terrain park with me.”
  • The time my teen daughter suggested getting matching necklaces when I thought she would not believe anything I wear is remotely fashionable.
The best memories are those spent together without needing a special occasion. | Picture: Julia Schneemann

Maybe a more important reason for me to reject Mother’s Day is that this day can be a day of remarkable upset for many among us. To those who have lost their mom, those who have lost their child, and those who maybe never had or no longer have a positive relationship with their mother or child, the constant barrage of posters, signs, adverts, and social media posts is a painful reminder of this, rubbing salt into fragile wounds. I think today should also be when you think of those friends and family members who might not share your exuberance but want this day to be over with and get past this painful reminder. If your mom is not even on social media, why post a “best mom ever” post? In fact, why make a personal message so public? Maybe instead, pledge quietly to call your mom a bit more often. Or promise to call that friend who no longer has a mom to celebrate and ask them to do something on this day to get their mind off it.

Before you all call me the Grinch of Mother’s Day, I did conform to societal pressures and bought my mom some flowers, lest her neighbors judge her. They live in a small village, after all. And I hope my mom yells, “Oh my gosh, they are huge; they must have cost a fortune,” so Doris can hear it from behind her kitchen curtains. You know, just in case, she is peeking through the curtains. I’m not a monster; I know how quickly gossip spreads in a small village, and I won’t let anyone claim my momma did not raise me right.

So I’m trying to say: don’t save your love for your mom for just this one day. Tell her randomly and unprompted, “Thank you.” Pick up the phone and give her a call. Take her out for lunch or with you on your next holiday because you never know how long you are lucky enough to have her in your life.

My mom once broke her coccyx sledding with my brother. Did it keep her from sledding the following year with me? Hell no! That’s moms for you! | Picture: Julia Schneemann

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One thought on “Why I Don’t Like Mother’s Day

  1. Beautifully written, thank you for taking the time to put into words what I feel. ❤️

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