The thing about Mother’s Day is that people get annoyed by all the hype and commercialism. I do too.
But this doesn’t make me want to boycott it altogether. Because the idea of Mother’s Day is actually a lovely one when you think about it. One day a year to celebrate mothers in the world. Old mothers, tired mothers, single mothers, lonely mothers, deceased mothers, superb mothers. All of them.
Celebration is about having a ritual that brings meaning to how we live. That’s it. That’s it.
You can buy gifts and cards and go to a lot of fuss if you like. Or not. It really doesn’t matter. The essence is this: we take a deep figurative breath and go “Well done mothers! We appreciate you today as we do every day of the year!”
Why do they deserve celebrating? Well, for one thing, most of them have achieved that death-defying, mind-bloggling, love-infused feat of birthing human beings into this world. I say most, because there are also mothers that have been given their children through adoption – and they are equally worthy of celebration.
It’s not hard to pitch the case for how awesome mothers are. They work damn hard. They sacrifice sleep and sanity and self-interest. And they devote years to nurturing their young. And even if you have a not-so-awesome mother, chances are she was just trying to do the best she could with the not-so-awesome mothering she had. Perhaps Mother’s Day is a day for compassion for not-perfect mums too.
I feel lucky to have a husband who doesn’t have to work on Mother’s Day, who earns enough money for us to enjoy treats, who delights in helping my kids celebrate me. Not everyone has that. We are privileged white middle-class people. But we are mindful of extravagance, and mindful that not everyone celebrates like we do.
I also feel lucky to have a mum who is still alive. A mum who nourished me with her love from when I born. A kind, affectionate, and generous mother. I hope I am modelling that rich love to my children too. Mother’s Day is about acknowledging her especially. Do I need a special day in the year for it? Not really. But it’s lovely.
So today was a celebration day for us. A day of rituals and reasons. A day like any other day, but with that extra feeling of fullness.
It wasn’t the special hand-made cards or kindergarten craft that made it complete. It wasn’t the pancake breakfast or special lunch that made it spectacular. These were all good. But the best thing about today was a sentence from my four year old girl. A moment that summed up why I love being a mother. And a moment that reduced me to a sobbing mess of happy tears.
“Mum, whatever you need today, I will be your assistant. Don’t do a thing, I’ll get it all for you.”