Sunday, May 14, 2017

So, Mother’s Day

Among the last photos I took of my mother, ca. 1980. 
Today is Mother’s Day, which, unlike Father’s Day, falls on the same date in both New Zealand and the United States. In both countries it’s very commercialised, with promotions to buy cards, gifts, and for taking mother out for a meal. Despite all that, the day is meant to be—and still largely is—a day to honour one’s own mother. But those of us who’ve lost our mothers are included—whether we like it or not.

Every year there are outpourings of love and gratitude for one’s mother, living or dead, and many of those are shared on social media. In my own Facebook feed today I saw post after post along those lines. I think it’s touching.

I do wonder sometimes, though, how all this public focusing on mothers affects people who have recently lost their mother, or, worse, perhaps never knew theirs, or, worse still, ended up estranged from their mothers. Does the saturation coverage—well, saturation marketing—bother them?

As someone whose mother is long gone, I’m at a place where I can appreciate the reminder. And, I like seeing people acknowledge their mothers. I especially love seeing posts from people who have the chance to express their love and appreciation for their mother who is still alive, because I can no longer do that, of course.

Those who find the mother-focus to be too much, for whatever reason, can mostly get away from it, more or less, if they really want to. But even I was given pause by a game I play that gave me a “badge” when I’d accumulated enough points. “I ❤️ Mom”, it said. I do, even now, but would others mind that badge being added to their profile picture without being asked?

Like always, I try to be sensitive to how others feel, that some people may have entirely different feelings about their mothers or Mother’s Day than I do. But, of course, that doesn’t stop me from liking the day or remembering my mother (or thinking about my awesome mother-in-law, and making sure Nigel rings her, though he always does without my prompting). To me, this is one of those things where people must “live and let live”, that we may not all experience, think about, or react to the day (or our mothers) in the same way, and that’s fine.

Me, I remember my mother every Mother’s Day, and I wish I still had the chance to do so personally. Instead, I can just be happy for those who can, and a good dose of “the feels” never does anyone any harm.

Footnote: Today I puzzled about spelling. I thought maybe it should be “Mothers’ Day”, a day belonging to all mothers, or maybe “Mothers Day” the say of mothers. But it turns out that it really is “Mother’s Day” because the founder, Anna Jarvis, wanted it that way. She wanted people to celebrate and honour their own mothers—but without all the commercialisation. The day began in 1905, and by the 1920s the commercialisation had well and truly set in, and Anna was NOT happy about it. She’d probably be pleased that so many people still share her feeling. The fact it was only today that I looked it up is probably an indication of how little a role the day actually plays in my life nowadays.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, exactly. I expect to have to fact check, but having to check spelling of things because, as you say, they can be non-instinctive, is a lot of trouble for nothing.

rogerogreen said...

The spelling of American holidays are non-instinctive. I THINK it's Presidents Day, but I've seen every variation imaginable.