Monday, May 11, 2009

Let Us Live to Make Men Free

So, I have issues. Specifically, Mother's Day Issues.

I have always had a hard time with holidays that has morphed into a Hallmark moment (I also have Valentine's Day Issues and welcome to Christmas in November!). This is no less true for the second Sunday in May once I found out the original reason for the day (look here and here if you don't know the activist, Feminist beginning of Mother's Day) and it is no less true now that I have my own children.
However, I have begun to mitigate some of my formidable opinions on this topic as witnessed last Thursday when Roslyn brought home from daycare a picture of flowers that she had painted with a little four-line poem attached to the top (the "flowers" were her hand-prints). That evening after she had gone to bed, Jason asked me if I was going to go in and confront her teachers. You see, I have long stated that if my child's time at school is used to make Mother's Day gifts, I will confront her teachers demanding that they explain the educational value behind such a lesson.
You'll all be proud of my self-restraint in that I demurred from doing so with Roslyn's daycare teachers because, well, it was an art project that utilized small motor skills and hand-eye coordination and because it was labeled as a gift, seemed to be encouraging a healthy self-image and sense of generosity in my 2 1/2 year old. Not bad for any school lesson, let alone one for a little kid, so I'll let it alone.

On Saturday Jason was at the second day of a two-day retreat in Chicago, and since we were just the three of us, the neighbors graciously invited us over for the afternoon and to stay for dinner. These would be the amazing neighbors where he is a meat guru and he pulled a beef tenderloin out of the freezer, cut fillets, and cooked steak on the grill. At dinner, he stated Happy Mother's Day to his wife and myself. I gratefully accepted his generosity as it was intended (they were fillets, and they were delicious), but felt a little disingenuous in doing so. Kind of like all day Sunday when people kept wishing me Happy Mother's Day and asking me if it had been a good Mother's Day. I kept responding, it had been a good Sunday.
It was a good Sunday and all of this leads me up to my issues. You see, I don't need for my children to have a day where they recognize how awesome I am. I am awesome. For the most part, I am a pretty fabulous parent, and I am certainly the best mom either of them are going to get, but I'm okay with the fact that they may never appreciate that. They didn't ask to be born, they didn't ask for me to re-arrange my identity; I did that all on my own. But Mother's Day in this country has seemingly become about expecting gratitude from one's children, one's spouse and partner, and the community as a whole that you were able to create life. If we were in the midst of a population downturn in the world, this might be rational; but we're not, so I don't think it is. Don't get me wrong, in the meantime I will continue to accept little endearing gifts from my children for as long as they feel the need to give them, without any lead from their father, and then when they stop, we'll just stop.

Now, if they ever forget my birthday, all hell is going to break loose.

At church, it has become more acceptable that Mother's Day Sunday is Gifts of Women Sunday (not everyone is a Mother, and not everyone got to make that "choice" as a choice), to celebrate the contributions of all Women to the enrichment of the lives of our communities. I like that. So, rather than wish you a Happy Mother's Day, I thank you for the time and talents that you spend to enrich your community and ask you to continue to work for Peace. Because God and your Mother did not create you to suffer or to cause suffering.

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