Mother’s Day Musings (#321)

Content Warning: We’ve lost so many millions of mothers to COVID this year that even relentless jewelry-hawkers like Pandora are exercising a modicum of compassion in their Mother’s Day advertising. If you aren’t up for reading about the holiday, skip this post and consider yourself hugged.

My mom died when I was a teenager. I dreaded Mother’s Day every year after that.

I’d’ve liked to ignore the entire day. Or better still, the entire week.

Instead, there were celebrations for the other moms in my life. By the time I left home, I had to remember cards and gifts for my ex-stepmother, my current stepmother, my former stepfather’s current wife, etc. (My family is so complicated that my Big Brother finally made a PowerPoint presentation for those foolish enough to marry into it. My husband is still bitter Big Brother didn’t make it until after we got married.)

After I got married, though, Mother’s Day wasn’t so bad. Sure, I had to add my mother-in-law to the list of card recipients and badger my husband about getting her a gift, but this also served to remind him to start planning a celebration for the other mother in his life. Andy made sure that our dogs Fey and Woofie “remembered” Mother’s Day with gifts for me. He also made me beautiful breakfasts.

Once Baby D was born, every person I ran into on Mother’s Day weekend wished me a “Happy Mother’s Day.” I got cards, chocolates, and sometimes a babysitter so we could go out to dinner. Once Andy even sent me to the spa for a massage while he wrangled Baby D alone. ONCE.

By the time Baby D was three, Mother’s Day had evolved into A Most Important Event. Dozens of adorable, utterly useless crafts came home from preschool in my honor.

A paper plate “purse” with coupons for hugs, kisses, and chores that my child refused to ever let me redeem.

I also discovered that preschools and kindergartens went all in on “Mother’s Day Teas.” Children sang tear-inducing “I Love My Mom” songs while the teachers handed out tissues. Afterwards, kids served their mothers chocolate covered strawberries, cookies, and lemonade…and immediately ate the goodies themselves while the mommies were still blowing their noses. Since SoCal moms are constantly dieting, most moms didn’t care. Much to Baby D’s dismay, his mother ate her chocolate strawberries RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM and he had to wait until all the moms were served to get his own plate of treats.

Even youth sports recognized what a big deal Mother’s Day was. No games were scheduled on Mother’s Day. Which hardly seemed like a Mother’s Day present; the whole point of my ridiculously energetic kid playing sports was for SOMEONE ELSE to exhaust him on the field so I didn’t have to exhaust him at the park or in the pool or with Nerf gun wars. But instead of playing on Mother’s Day Sunday, corsages or flowers were given to all the moms in attendance at the Saturday games (the coaches warned you in advance to be in attendance).

While I might have preferred to celebrate Mother’s Day with more sports and less obligatory maternal celebrations, other moms relished the recognition. “At least I get this,” one mom told me, sniffing her bouquet.

Aghast, I said, “Your husband isn’t doing anything for you?! No brunch or dinner?!”

“Oh, there’s a dinner tonight—for my mother. I still have to pick up the cake and flowers and make the boys sign her card and get her present wrapped. And tomorrow, it’s a brunch for his mom. She can’t drive, so my husband will pick her up while I’m getting the house and meal ready a second time. By the time he takes her home, I’ll just have enough energy to put in a movie for the boys and retreat to my room with a glass of wine.”

With my mother deceased and Andy’s mother 3,000 miles away, I’d never really thought about Mother’s Day for the “Sandwich Generation” before. It sounded exhausting.

Yes, Mother’s Day without my own mom was always sad.

No, Mother’s Day as a mom wasn’t always what I wanted.

But it was mine. All mine.
Right down to the Nerf Wars.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

12 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Musings (#321)”

  1. My mom never wanted a lot of fanfare around this holiday so she got a flower, a card and maybe a gift. She’d cook something very easy and everyone else would clean up. Somehow that all made her happy. When I listen to friends it sounds like a version of Thanksgiving or Christmas. Scheduling to make sure ALL the moms are visited or fed or something. It’s not a day of rest for the sandwich generation at all.

    1. Andy’s mom already called him this week and told him not to send her anything. So he didn’t even send a card! Sigh. I’ll make sure Baby D at least FaceTimes her.

      Isn’t it amazing that moms used to do all the cooking and cleaning up and no one thought about it ever? Baby D has to do dishes and set the table, no matter which parent is cooking.

  2. Neither my mom nor the mother of my children ever really made a big fuss over Mother’s Day even though I was always quick to treat them to brunches, flowers, the usual. I’d never given much thought to youth sports taking the day off. I can see why you’d rather Baby D got to play on your special day.

  3. Wow, I get off so easy on Mother’s Day. My only responsibilities were to send my mom a gift card, talk to her on Facetime (very pleasant), and send messages to my sister and my friends with kids (weirdly I don’t have that many). I do kind of envy the Mother’s Day plate at the top of your post though — I used to love making stuff like that as a kid.

    1. The plate is one of my favorite crafts! They drew pictures on paper plates and then a company makes them into actual plates. Useful and adorable.

      How far in advance do you have to send a card going to the US from South Africa?

      1. Oh, I don’t send an ACTUAL card. I send an Amazon gift card that arrives immediately after I send it. It seems like a really boring present but my mom likes picking out her own stuff. At Christmas she usually sends me money on PayPal and I send her an Amazon card. Which is really pointless but it makes us both happy.

  4. It sounds like you had a good Mother’s Day. I remember those Mother’s Day teas–mostly in pre-school and Kindergarten. Spending so many years abroad, I’m afraid we missed years and years of Mother’s Day with my mom.

  5. I like your purse with the coupons. I’m childfree and my mother died 25 years ago so for me Mother’s Day is nothing. I register that it’s happening but nothing more. I make my husband send his mother a card, but she doesn’t like flowers or gifts so that’s about all we do.

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