Monday, May 10, 2010

Thank You, Hallmark

Before I became a mother, I dismissed Mother's Day as a made up, Hallmark-mandated crap fest and I resented being told exactly when and how to appreciate my mom. I know she appreciated the card, phone call, and occasional (finances-permitting) bouquet, but still, the whole thing reeked of phony sentiment to me.

It got a lot worse while I was infertile. It seemed that the holiday was set up deliberately to mock me, and all the other women who fruitlessly aspired to be mothers. Where were our cards and flowers and TV specials? Who was going to make us breakfast in bed? I always sunk really low on those days, making my obligatory calls to me mom and sister, then avoiding the outside world for the rest of the day. It was a bullshit holiday and everyone who went along with it were just pawns of the flower and greeting card industries.

Now that I'm fully immersed in mommyhood, I'm whistling a different tune. Being a mom is hard work, no matter how grateful you are to have become one. Sleep deprivation, a complete lack of free time, and caring for someone who is not only utterly and completely dependent, but who is also a raging ball of desires and shifting emotions, well, it wears you down after a while. Plus, like most mommies, I work and keep the house clean. So, yeah, I would like some fucking flowers please.

I love the idea of husbands and kids, pens poised over the blank space of a greeting card, thinking of what to thank their wives and mothers for. Well, one might think, she sure does a great job of making sure everyone else's needs are met. And she must be exhausted from working so hard, but she gets up and does it all again each day. Whether or not that ends up in the card is irrelevant, at least to me. The important thing is that others ponder the role of mother and acknowledge how committed we are to being good at it. I want my husband to reflect on how a good homecooked meal ends up on the table each night, how the house has not devolved into Hoarders-style chaos, and  how I'm loving and gentle to our child, even when his tea-kettle shrieks make my fillings vibrate.

I'm pleased to say, he came through nicely. I awoke to a lovely bouquet, a gourmet meal (store-bought, but still) heating in the oven, and two touching greeting cards, one from each of them (obviously Daddy picked out Harrison's). My husband cleaned the house, handled the baby-related tasks, and didn't even complain when I went out for a few hours to meet with my writing group. It was a wonderful day.

So, even though it's a manufactured holiday that leaves infertiles out in the cold, I finally appreciate Mother's Day. One day of being spoiled goes a long way towards easing the resentment of being the busiest person in a family, and reflecting on all the things that mothers do promotes empathy toward them. I don't really care that a heartless multinational corporation got the ball rolling on this holiday; it's ours and we've earned it.

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