Sunday, May 13, 2007

Who Invented Mother's Day?

Who invented Mother’s Day? Was it the card people or the restaurants? I feel sure it has to have been someone who makes a great deal of money because really, there is no other reason to have a separate day to celebrate being a mother. Mother’s should be celebrated everyday – or maybe I should be more specific.

Let’s be honest. It is incredibly easy to become a mother. It takes no intellect -- hardly any thinking at all. You and whomever, simply decide that having a baby is something you want to do and so you have a good time and if you’re lucky nine months later you have a baby. Having the baby automatically makes you a mother. Or sometimes, you don’t decide that it’s something you want and it just happens. That might be OK or maybe not. Look around and you can see too many cases of “it just happened”. Here’s where the, “what kind of a mother are you”, becomes an important part of the celebration picture and here’s where me and Mother’s Day part company.

I think it would be fine to celebrate “Good Mother’s Day”, or “Mother is Really Trying to Do Her Best Day” or even “Mother’s Going to Get There Sooner or Later Day”, because that implies that there is a person who wants to take an active role in their child’s life. This is not always the case. In fact, what I see today (not with my kids) it is more likely that it is not. I don’t say this easily or happily. But what I see far too often is that the act of reproducing becomes the last real involvement too many young women have with their children.

For obvious reasons, women are forced to make choices between their family and their careers. For most of us we simply can’t work a full time job and have time to be the primary parent in our child’s life. So someone else becomes the primary parent and it’s not usually dad—it’s a day care center provider, a babysitter, or a young woman from some foreign country that wants to come to the United States on a temporary or permanent basis. The child, for which this person cares, is not usually the end all and be all of their life. The child is often a means to an end. And I know, it’s not an easy predicament in which to be, but where is it written that everyone has an obligation to reproduce. They don’t. People can have sex without a consequence. Am I being too cynical? Probably. What else is new?

I was lucky because when my kids were little I was there for them. I could be. I didn’t need to make a choice right away. But then when Seth was three I went back to work and that took me away from home far too much. Eventually, when I went home, there was no longer a place for me—so I had to find a new place and again, it left me without my child for too much of his life and mine. I was luckier with Jordan because when she was little my work was close by and never took up too much time. I was a University Professor. I did have help but they took care of me rather than her – I took care of her. I have never regretted having my children because I really wanted them. Sure, part of it was the entertainment factor but I desperately wanted to be with them. I wanted to know them. I wanted to watch them grow and develop as people. And my kids, happily have the luxury of not having to be apart from Zachary because he can be with them at work or play. But it’s not even about having to go to work and leaving the baby somewhere else with a stranger or a relative. People have to work. They do the best they can. But that’s not who I’m talking about. What I see now far too frequently, and I hardly know them —but I know their helpers --- is far different. I hear the disturbing conversations and they have kids because it’s the thing to do—it’s what’s expected of them. They have no real interest in the children -- just in the competition. Is their kid smarter, cuter, better dressed than what’s “their name” in the play group—supervised by a care giver. Does the kid have a better grasp of baby Einstein tapes than their neighbor’s kids? It’s all about being and having the best. And this is all before the child goes to pre-school. It doesn’t have to do with love or making a better world. It’s all about them. Should they be celebrated?

For me Mother’s day is a reminder that I wasn’t the kind of mother I wanted to be and my mother wasn’t the kind of mother I wanted her to be. For me, Mother’s Day is a chore, always pretty painful—like I can’t even go out for lunch at the diner without waiting in line for hours. My grandmother used to say, “every day is Mother’s Day” and so you don’t need to send a card or buy a present to make a point. Of course that’s what I think she said, because her English wasn’t so great, but I’m with her. Everyday should be a celebration of being a caring, concerned, involved, mother. We’re just sayin...Iris


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

As luck would have it, my mom's birthday was May 14. Also, my graduation day from college was May 14. And that year Mother's Day was May 14.

It was like hitting the trifecta.

The only Mother's Day / Birthday where I got the cards and presents, and Mom was so proud.


I've given up trying to get Google to remember me.