I hate occasions where it is mandatory to feel certain sentiments. I hate mandatory sentiment. I hate tokens of sentiments being elevated to the level of authentic experience.
I hate 'Hallmark Holidays'.
I wonder if this...sentiment...is going to be cause for regret someday.
The cynical and rebellious part in me feels that Mother's Day, Grandparent's Day, Father's Day, and yes, "Everybody-Under-the-Sun-That-You-Ever-Have-Occasion-to-Encounter's Day" (Christmas) are 'made-up' holidays that are examples of the emperor's new clothes. Everyone gives them allegiance because, well, everyone gives them allegiance.
As a mother myself now, I'm not a purely unbiased party. But I still think I could do without it.
I wonder if I'd feel differently if we lived far enough away that it wasn't a 'shared occasion' with my mother in law. We did have 5 mother's days away, though, when we lived in St. Louis. I was indifferent there too, come to think of it.
Gary wanted to take a boys' ski trip. When the MD weekend appeared to be the one that was fine with me. Maybe we'd get to escape a stressful mandatory brunch in a restaurant (Scott and Connor both get restless in restaurants that aren't fast-food franchises. An overcrowded over-busy Mother's Day promises long delays and for food that doesn't delight them.). The boys are not comfortable with Gary's mother and generally she wants only to talk to Gary about things that aren't of interest to them--lots of detail about neighbors they've never met and issues that don't concern them. Since we've returned to Portland and proximity to her this is a once a year event I'm just as glad to be done with. The thought of getting to skip it this year was a pleasant one.
But it's not to be. Gary's big on form, and satisfying these social shoulds. So he's going to be cutting his trip short because he can't miss mother's day. The other night at dinner he said he would be home. I said, "You know, you really don't have to do that" (although I'm aware that it's not really for me, but his mother, that he's doing it). Connor's ears pricked up: "You don't like Mother's Day? How could a mother not like Mother's Day?" I said, "I don't like any situation where you're supposed to feel a certain way, or act like you feel a certain way--meaning enrich the greeting cards and flower and chocolate companies. I don't like any situation that implies that you're selfish or heartless if you don't want to participate."
Yesterday Connor came down with a rash at school, and I was on the way down the hill with him to the doctor's when a mother's day ad came on the radio. I wasn't even listening, but he said, "I see what you mean about Mother's Day, Mom. They do lay on the guilt." We talked some more, me with an uneasy feeling that I might just be giving him permission to never observe Mother's Day for me. And am I prepared for that? It is the logical conclusion of my honest judgment of it as one of those arbitrary social-consensus type 'made-up' affairs that I can't put my heart into. Will I regret this? Will I be 90 in a nursing home someday watching my fellow residents being taken out in their corsages and hats while I'm left with standard nursing-home grub? Would it be hypocritical to say, "I for one do appreciate a bit of heart-felt appreciation", or does that amount to: "I think it's stupid, but I'll be hurt if you don't do it for me anyway?"
I decided to let my words stand and take whatever consequences come.
But I have to acknowledge a terrible, quiet place inside of me, an awareness. My awareness is that there's A Glow In the Woods, a terrible, sacred place for women, Mothers, to gather. Mothers who have lost their children. The Abyss is in them, and they live with It constantly. They give comfort to each other in this Place, and my heart aches so for them. It makes me quake, and tremble.