Last year, on the eve of Mother’s Day, I really pissed off my mom.
Though I happen to be a mother myself, I make my home in a country that does not mark the day. For me, that means two things:
- I always forget about the day, along with all of the other American Hallmark Holidays.
- I have the opportunity, or really, the responsibility, to embrace the day as someone’s daughter, not as someone’s mother.
I will say, as an expat who stays plugged into US culture, that it really seems to me that y’all are embracing Hallmark Holidays with more and more gusto year over year. Perhaps it is the COVID isolation, but you all started with the Mother’s Day festivities as this past weekend dawned! It was thanks to those early mentions that I had time to draft a quick text to my sister, who does live locally to my mom, begging to piggy back onto her Mother’s Day efforts. I wrote:
The only problem was that in my stress and my haste, I sent said text message to my mom!!!
Insert “Face in Palm” emoji.
Let me tell you…she was not happy.
I have a very sensitive mom. She does not care much about clothes or shoes. What she does care about is expressions of love. Especially from us. Her daughters.
I had fallen short.
How Healthy is a Day for Mother’s?
As a person who deeply believes that women’s ways will save the world, I am all for celebrating mothers. Indeed, the hormonally driven instinct to give care and make connections, the two survival mechanisms employed by cave women to protect themselves from danger, are so much more skillful and essential today than the equivalent biologically programmed testosterone instinct to conquer.
We need mothers. We need to celebrate mothers.
Still, for many, Mother’s Day is as much a day for grief as a day for celebration, a day for honoring as much what we lack or have lost as what we have.
My own experience of Mother’s Day, living in a country that does not mark it, forces me to embrace the fact that while we might not all be mothers, we all, in one way or another, have a mother.
Some of our mothers are living. Others have already passed on. Some of our mothers raised us well. Others did a plain awful job of it or were not present or able to do it at all.
My Feminism Inspires Me To Celebrate Mothers
One of the swiftest tricks patriarchy and the religions that have promoted it played on us these last 2,000 years, has been to convince us that human beings come from men, not from women. In the book of Genesis, we read that Eve was taken from the body of Adam, rather than it being the other way around. Christianity takes the leap one step further, deeming God’s mother a virgin while at the same time, offering humanity a male image for the Divine nurturing presence we can access in our lives. What these theological claims mask is the simple fact that every human being to ever walk the planet was born from the body of a woman.
We all have mom.
Mother’s Day Alternatives
The country where I make my home, Israel, is a country of orphans. The culture of the modern state of Israel was shaped substantially by the boatloads of teenagers who arrived on the country’s shores having survived Nazism. In the early years of state-building, the country innovated the kibbutz, a collective where children grew up not in their family home but rather in children’s homes, allegiance cultivated to the collective rather than the nuclear family. Mother’s Day does not align with the culture here.
Instead, in Israel, we have a single day of the year we celebrate as “Family Day.” Such a notion makes space for adoptive parents and extended families, for aunties who were like moms and kids who had to raise themselves. Family Day celebrates the fact that we humans are social creatures who make families for ourselves from what we’ve got.
Family Day is a lovely alternative to Mother’s Day.
If we’re not quite ready to jettison Mother’s Day, or if like me, you feel that the posture of “mothering” is something that needs celebrating today, then perhaps “Family Day” is not the solution for you.
Even if you’re someone who has already lost their mom, or if your mom was not there for you in the ways you might have wished she were, I still believe that there is value in celebrating your mother. After all, some woman who walked the planet at some time housed you in her body for 40 weeks. During that time, you stripped her body of essential vitamins and minerals. She shared her calories with you while you kicked her in the stomach. This, she did in love.
Mother’s Day is a Healthy Gratitude Practice
Take this day, Mother’s Day in America, to practice being grateful for being alive. If you know the phone number of the woman who gestated you for those 9 months, give her a call and thank her. Tell her that the world could use a bit more of selfless service she showed when she gave you life. And, if you don’t know your mother, or if she is no longer in this world, then take this day simply as an opportunity to be grateful for being alive.
Life is a gift. Given to us by our mothers.
Happy Mothers Day!
This post was previously published on Sarene B. Arias’ blog.
From The Good Men Project on Medium
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