Today it’s Mothers’ Day over here in not-so-sunny SA. So I should probably start this post off with a disclaimer: I’m a scrooge. I genuinely feel that all these “Hallmark Holidays” are overrated opportunities to lose money on frivolous, dust-collecting conscience-cleaners. As a rule, I don’t prefer to celebrate Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Halloween or even (wait for it … ) Christmas. I don’t agree with making up a holiday once each year to celebrate the fact that biology happens. At best, it’s cheesey. At worst, well … all that stuff I said before. Bah. Humbug. Blah blah blah.
I have children and they LOVE holidays. Christmas is their very favourite (and their dad’s. And their grandparents’). They adore Easter and everything that goes with it (pagan fertility rites excluded, of course). They are big fans of birthdays, they think Valentine’s day is romantic, and they truly believe Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day are very important.
While I may not agree with my angels, I am a child-centred parent and I love to indulge them. This year, however, I had a flash of illuminating insight. Perhaps what we do need once a year is not a celebration of the fact that we’re among the lucky millions able to conceive and deliver healthy babies (and we truly are incredibly lucky, even if there are so many of us).
No. What we really need is a reminder of what it means to be a mother, and how much better we could be doing. So much of our modern society focuses on self: slogans tells us we’re worth it. Advertising implies we deserve the things we want. Not only ought we to be allowed to have down time, spa days and chocolates: we’ve earned those and, apparently, we need those things. As a result, what we see all around us now is a gang of well-dressed, perfectly coiffed mothers with cellphones permanently fixed to their ears and barely a second glance at the string of offspring she’s tugging along behind her, like so many once-loved accessories.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are millions of moms out there, parenting against incredible odds, doing their very best in the most trying of circumstances. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the moms like me: busy, distracted, forgetful of the fact that, for two short decades, they hold treasure in their fingers.
So perhaps Mothers’ Day should be less of a pamper-party for being a parent, and more of a reminder of what parenting means. It’s about staying strong in the hard times. It’s about providing our children with the tools they need to face the challenges that lie ahead of them. It’s about sacrificing our spa days in favour of our children’s dance aspirations. It’s about being consistent, wise, dependable, available.
This year, I’m making Mothers’ Day a lesson to myself: a reminder of what motherhood is all about, and a golden opportunity to refocus my attention on what truly matters in life. And it’s not mani-pedis or a new haircut.