Saturday, 2 April 2011

Muvvas, eh? Who'd have 'em?

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.  This day was invented by one: Anna Jarvis, in 1914 in memory of her mother.  It is said that she came to regret campaigning so tirelessly for such a day due to the commercialism which resulted.

And it's ironic that something which was instigated as a way to remember, honour and appreciate a mother has turned into something which can engender guilt, obligation and inadequacy on the part of children,  and loneliness and self-pity on the part of mothers.

Done properly (that is to say, how the commercial world would have us do), children may well feel that they've done their duty in paying dues to their mother and a mother may feel valued and cherished.

The point is, though.... that it's a MADE UP DAY!

I mean, it was lovely of Anna Jarvis to want to commemorate her mother, but couldn't she have done it in a more private and personal manner?  Rather than foisting on the world this obligation, and playing into the consumerist society by further sucking money out to be spent on useless stuff that doesn't mean anything, couldn't she have just written a moving epitaph, or set up an orphanage?

I know it was not her intention for it to become such a commercial opportunity, but I bet there are children all over the world (it is, apparently, 'celebrated' in 43 countries) who feel that unless they can convey through the thoughtful choice of a present and a card how much they appreciate their mothers then they will have failed to demonstrate their love.  Of course, any mother worth her salt wouldn't give a flying fuck if their kids didn't buy them something expensive or anything at all... but I know that there are some out there who may use it as another stick to beat their offspring with, with subtle inferences about their disappointment and the lack of appreciation that is shown for the sacrifices and difficulties they have faced. 

It's my opinion that if a child feels obligated to show attention and appreciation on mother's day, then that mother has failed in one very important respect.  By engendering guilt in another person by dint of their inability to choose their parentage. No-one chooses who their parents are and if a parent feels hard-done-by, or that they have suffered, as a result of being a parent, then it absolutely is not the child's fault.  It's not really anyone's fault - No-one can have any idea what it's like to be a parent, until it happens.  It's often ignored that parent's are people too.  They are the way they are in part because of their parenting and everyone does the best they can with what they're given.  I know that it couldn't be any other way.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't show love and appreciation, but shouldn't it be a spontaneous and natural expression? Not something that people feel pressurised into because of the expectations of a purely fictitious occasion.

Will I feel upset if my children don't remember me on Mother's Day in some way?  I'd like to say 'No'. But I'd be lying.  I would absolutely not want them to spend any money on me... but a cup of tea and breakfast in bed.. a head massage.... a hug ... or an offer to let me off all household duties for the entire year [;-)] would mark the occasion much more effectively.  If they were to buy me an expensive present and card, I would consider that I had not been as an effective mother as I would like, because it would mean that they value money and possessions too much and think that these things demonstrate caring.  Although, I guess, if you find it hard to be demonstrative, then spending money is equivalent to spending your time (time = money for many).

It would be stupid, and human, of me to be upset if they completely forgot Mother's Day, because I could infer that I mean nothing to them.  And perhaps on that particular day, I didn't - perhaps they were too busy living their lives and I should in fact, be glad that they hadn't bought into such a pointless event.  My worth to them as their mother is only useful in the mundane, ongoing relationship that we have.  And it is that everyday and utterly unconditional attention that makes Mother's Day (and Father's Day for that matter), obsolete and a little obscene.  IMO.

But, whatever you do, don't tell your mother that!

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