I Hate Mother's Day. But I Love my Mom.

My family didn't really do mother's day growing up -- for reasons similar to those that I didn't realize until I went to college that for some families, Easter is a big family holiday. Mother's Day is always Sunday. And Sunday is always a Work Day, for the pastor and by extension his whole family. So, the cultural assumptions about how to spend this day of leisure sort of go out the window.

Somewhere along the line, probably from Highlights for Children, but possibly also from a Sunday School Mother's Day lesson, I got the idea that Breakfast in Bed was The Thing To Do for Mother's Day. We may have even tried to pull it off once, although I can't imagine it went over like the picture from the storybook that inspired the effort.

See, another thing that my family didn't really do was big breakfasts -- it was always cold cereal and milk. For special occasions, maybe add orange juice and toast. I thought pancakes and eggs were dinner food for years.

And my mother doesn't drink coffee, so that wouldn't have been on the menu.

Another thing we didn't really do was flowers. My mental image of Mother's Day breakfast in bed always included a flower in a bud vase, but we didn't buy flowers, and May is generally too early to have fresh flowers available for the picking.

But the ultimate reason that breakfast in bed just wouldn't work was that Mom herself wouldn't have time for it. Sunday morning was about getting up, getting us up, and getting everyone ready and off to church on time. Dad was generally busy with last-minute preparation for the day's service, so supervising a heart-felt but ill-advised culinary adventure really didn't fit into his schedule. And Mike and I were too young to get ourselves far enough in advance of Mom, prepare breakfast, and set everything up right. We probably couldn't even get the tray down the hall without spilling half the orange juice, knocking over the jelly jar "bud vase" containing a dandelion, and letting the cereal sog. And by the time we were old enough to succeed in pulling off a Mother's Day event, we were so thoroughly used to being in a family that didn't really "do" Mother's Day that it never crossed our minds.

Besides the logistics of it all, I've inherited my father's philosophical opposition to being told by an overly-commercialized calendar exactly when and how to should my love to the people I care about. (For some reason, the tradition of giving Christmas gifts has always been exempted from this generalized resentment.)

Mother's Day resembles Valentine's in certain hideous ways, as an opportunity for retailers to guilt us into buying hyped up merchandise, while at the same time heaping emotional distress on those who lack partners/children/mothers, or who are not on good terms with them.

My biological clock is not ticking so loudly in my ears (nor am I deafened by the silence of knowing it's too late) as to make the day personally distressing, but I already grieve a bit that I am not a mother by now. (When my mother was my age, I was entering Kindergarten.) How much more painful is the day's emphasis for those who have longed more deeply for a child, and been disappointed more profoundly? Or for those who have lost their children? Or their mothers?

So I'm more than ready to take a pass on Mother's Day altogether. And I confess I almost feel smug as I listen to the increasingly frantic commercial appeals of the week before urging us to rush out and get the perfect gift and reserve the perfect brunch. Mike and I will call Mom (unless, perhaps, we just talked to her yesterday), and call it good.

But I don't want my general dislike of Mother's Day to suggest that I hold anything against mothers in general, or mine in particular. Or that I take mothers for granted.

One of the best things about being some sort of a grown-up is being friends with my Mom. I love that we can call each other just to report some minor news, or just because we're bored. I love that there are interests and tastes that we share, that there are things we know that the other will just "get." I love that we feel safe complaining to each other. I love that my mother still takes care of me when I need it. I love that my Mom believes in me and what I do. I love that she prays for me.

I love you, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day.

(I promise not to sing any insipid songs to you.)


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