Castles in the Sand

When the waters rise, will our castles remain?

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. In case this is news to you, there’s still time. Not much, but some.

This seems to be the kind of announcements we receive from advertisements each year as Mother’s Day approaches: hurry now before it’s too late! Don’t forget to buy something for your mother to show how much you care on Mother’s Day.

We’re missing the point. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get your mom something awesome for Mother’s Day; I’m sure she absolutely deserves it and more. But that doesn’t change the fact that the holiday was created not for cards and flowers but for genuine expressions of love and appreciation.

I did a quick Wikipedia search (side note: as Michael Scott explains, Wikipedia is always a good research tool), and I discovered that the women who originated Mother’s Day in our country actually began boycotting the holiday not long after it became official. She resented how quickly companies like Hallmark began exploiting the day as an opportunity to make more money.

So what does Mother’s Day really mean? I think it should be different for each person, because everyone’s relationship with their mother is unique. And lest I incite an angry mob of mothers coming after me, in no way am I saying not to get your mom a present. I’m simply saying the focus of the day shouldn’t be “Well, it’s Mother’s Day so I have to get something for mom.”

I’m part of a local theatre production of “Bye Bye Birdie” that opens tonight, and one of the primary relationships in the show is between the main character Albert and his mother Mae. If you don’t know the show, first of all come see one of our performances over the next three weekends because it’s really good. But the relationship between these two characters is a bit contentious, as Mae embodies the stereotypical overbearing (and somewhat offensive) mother who won’t let her son actually grow up and live his life.

The interactions between the two in the show are hilarious, with a big part of that being thanks to some incredibly talented actors in the two roles. But I do think it’s a bit ironic that we’ll be performing this show with this relationship on Mother’s Day.

Often mothers are stereotyped into negative images of smothering and overprotecting their children. Or they’re stereotyped the other way as the perfect homemaker who always has dinner ready at the right time, always knows what to say when times get tough and always keeps the house perfectly clean (#stepfordwives). But as usual with stereotypes, these images sell mothers horribly short.

My mother is not perfect. That might sound harsh and cruel, but it shouldn’t. She’s not perfect because nobody is. But she’s mine (and I guess my sister’s, too, but mostly mine… #mostimportantchild). She’s always been there when I need her, from the times I fell and hurt myself when I was a little kid to the time in high school when I had my heart broken and literally went home and climbed in her lap and cried.

For anyone who knows me, you should have some sort of idea what my mom has had to put up with throughout my life. And let me just say, my sister is probably worse (I’m sure many would dispute this claim, but this is my blog so I can say what I want!). And my dad might be the most obnoxious of all. Although who am I kidding, there are very few who can surpass me on the obnoxious scale.

Anyway, I’ve never been a fan of cards since they seem so generic. If I get someone a card, it’s almost always going to aim at ridiculous humor rather than genuine sentiment. It just seems awkward to try to find genuine sentiment in a manufactured greeting card, so I tend to think it’s not worth it. And I’m usually really bad about gifts.

It sounds like my parents are going to come visit tomorrow and see the show, and I fully intend to tell her afterwards that she’s just like Albert’s mom with her craziness. I doubt she’d expect anything less.

But the truth is I wouldn’t want any other mom. She’s done so much more than I could ever say – and so much more than I could even realize – throughout my life. Without her I wouldn’t be anything like the person I am today (although I’m not sure if she’d be too excited to acknowledge that). Heck, without her I wouldn’t exist.

My mom has had to endure a lot in her life, from various health issues to dealing with my dad and me (but, again, mostly my sister. She’s a troublemaker). Yet even when she gets frustrated with our shenanigans and probably wants to smack us, we know she loves us. And we love her.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It’s intentionally spelled with the singular possessive to emphasize each individual mother rather than mothers collectively. So take a few minutes to look beyond the collective generalities of greeting cards, flowers and other stereotypical gifts. Celebrate your mother. She deserves it.

Because even a mother as overbearing and racist as Mae Peterson read her son “Bambi” every night until her throat was sore. And that’s a pretty sweet thing to do.

One thought on “It’s Mother’s Day, not Mothers’ Day

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