I Quit Mother’s Day—and I Mean It

I’ve decided to stop celebrating the second Sunday in May (aka: the “official” Mother’s Day).

Cold turkey. No mas.

Call me crazy, but it feels like Mother’s Day has gone the way of the dodo bird—or at least the Hallmark machine. I’m certain that when Mother’s Day was first recognized as an official calendar holiday over a century ago, no one imagined it would morph into the commercial monster it has become. What was once a delightful day of low expectations is now over the top and just ready and waiting to crush a poor mama’s soul with disappointment. 

Friends, I know you aren’t ALL disappointed. But let’s be honest with one another, OK? There are dozens of “What Mama Really Wants for Mother’s Day” posts floating in my feed—ironically, all geared to me, the mom. (I guess my parenting partner and/or offspring are supposed to absorb my fantasy wish list through osmosis?) Handfuls of “If I get one more hastily-thrown-together-with-zero-thought-or-intention card” memes plague social media. My friend Michelle said it best: there is zero fun or cute factor in hiding away on what is supposed to be your day while the spouse hustles cards out of the kids. Articles abound about how to coerce your family into the perfect Mother’s Day where NOTHING GOES WRONG AT ALL.

The lamenting about unthoughtful spouses cobbling together plans—even after weeks of hinting or, lo and behold, explicit instruction-giving—is enough to send me to therapy to understand your relationship.

Let’s not forget the commercials. Oh, the dang commercials. My sweet daughter has asked me no less than a dozen times if she can buy me a new piece of jewelry, thanks to a commercial with a catchy jingle I hear her sing on the way to school. (Nicely placed advertising, kids’ channel. Nicely placed.) Diamonds for Mother’s Day, diamonds for Christmas, diamonds for Valentine’s Day…are diamonds losing their allure for anyone else? Don’t get me wrong—I love me some diamond jewelry. Could it be given to mark a milestone moment unique to me and our lives, though? A piece that has meaning and depth of thought put into it, perhaps?

Is the way in which we celebrate mothering—the hierarchy of worthiness—skewed? With more and more families having the good fortune to celebrate with extended family, it seems like the eldest mother often is awarded the choice in her preference for an activity or dining option on Mother’s Day.

I adore my grandmothers and fully respect the wealth of knowledge they have to share and breadth of their tenure as mothers, but should we not equally—perhaps even more so—celebrate the young mothers? The mamas in the trenches, doing the hard work of raising babies, swimming through pre-teen angst and teen attitude, sending their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it high schoolers off to college and the real world? Those are the women who need to be given preferential treatment. Those are the moms who need the day off. Should we not wrap our arms around them and say, “I see you, and I get it, and I’m going to ease the weight of motherhood from your shoulders today”?

I love when my husband and daughter bring me gifts because they were out and about and thought of me. I adore when I get a gentle “I’ll get breakfast going—take your time” on a Saturday morning. I melted when my daughter wrote, in legible handwriting, “I love you, Mom” on a scrap of construction paper—and it will remain my most cherished “card” of all time.

I have a friend from overseas who said in her hometown it is customary to celebrate the mother of a child on that child’s birthday. After all, it was she who did the hard work, she who loved, disciplined, and nurtured the birthday baby through another year. Let’s do that! Let’s make magic in everyday moments. Treat yourself to the new shoes, or a splurge at the mall, or a bouquet of flowers from the florist or the checkout line at HEB. Book that massage or pedi, and treat yourself to a sitter. You deserve it—and you deserve it on more than one day a year. Let’s let go of the disappointment and false expectations. Instead, let’s rewrite how we see the value of everyday mothering and spread out the respecting, honoring, and celebrating over the other 364 days of the year, too.

Lofty aspirations? Probably. I ain’t got nothing on Hallmark or cheesy jewelry commercials. I’ll still go to brunch on Sunday, give my mom a sarcastic card (because I let her know how much I love her and care about her often, and we roll our eyes together at the commercial expectations), trot my kid out in a cute dress, post a picture-or-it-didn’t-happen selfie on Facebook, and enjoy myself.

Bitter or unloved? Hardly. It’s because I feel cherished, valued, and secure in my mothering journey that I can say—and mean—I’m quitting Mother’s Day. 

3 Responses to I Quit Mother’s Day—and I Mean It

  1. Claire May 14, 2018 at 3:37 pm #

    I love this. I did have a good Mother’s Day, but found the term “Hallmark Holiday” popping in my head way too often and it was making me wonder if it was even worth it for me. Of course I would still celebrate my own mom, but for celebrating me, it kind of seemed more of a hassle.

  2. Heather Blazi May 13, 2018 at 7:24 am #

    I watched a history channel show about the origins of Mother’s Day. Ann Jarvis created it in 1908 with a simple white carnation for moms. In 1914 it became an official holiday. By 1920, she hated how commercialized it had gotten and started publicly denouncing it. What was once supposed to be a simple honor to mothers turned into a money-making scheme/empire! https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day

    All that to say, you are not alone!

  3. Liz May 11, 2018 at 8:24 am #

    Love this! It perfectly mirrors how I started to feel about the misery of Valentine’s Day and decided to stop making it a make-or-break holiday (either in my unhappy marriage or my later happy relationship with a guy who talks to me every day the way I used to wish my ex would on any day). Now when I want a break from parenting I ask their dad to take the kids while I see a movie with a friend. And when I want roses I buy them the day after Mother’s Day when they’re cheapest. 😉

Leave a Reply