My dear fellow motherless humans of the world, I am here to announce that this year we are taking back Mother’s Day, dammit.
Our days of feeling nauseous come mid-April, of avoiding TV ads at all cost and the card aisle in Target are over. No longer will we cringe at the families lined up for brunch or the bouquets of overpriced flowers we have no reason to buy. This is our day, too, and it’s time we owned it.
I have suffered and struggled through eight Mother’s Days without my mom. For years, the approach of the day made me sick and anxious. “It’s a stupid, meaningless Hallmark holiday,” I muttered each time some overly emotional mother-daughter commercial assaulted my TV or computer screen. When May arrived it felt like I was surrounded solely by women joyfully walking arm-in-arm with their moms – in the grocery store, leaving spin class, doing the walk of shame early on a Sunday morning.
On the actual day I stewed, avoided, and plodded forward in angry silence. If I left my house on Mother’s Day I’d see nary a man, or a woman under the age of 55. The world became a sea of moms who weren’t mine, and I drowned in sadness every time.
Today I have two wonderful young daughters. Since coming into the world, they have filled my Mother’s Days with incredible joy but the happiness has had a bitter edge. Someone else should be celebrating with us too, but she died of cancer years ago and I could never shake the unfairness of it all.
But this year, I have been asking myself WWYMWYTDOMD? (that’s What Would Your Mom Want You To Do On Mother’s Day, in case acronyms aren’t you’re thing.) I do not know your mothers, but if they’re anything like mine was — a total queen in LL Bean wool clogs — here is the answer: She wouldn’t want you to cower or mope; to avoid the sunshine and the spring and the world around you. She’d want you to honor her not with some schlocky, faux-sentimental bullshit.
She’d want you to kick Mother’s Day in the ass and then make out with it. She’d want you to have a fucking wonderful day. The best day. One she’d love to hear about on the phone at night while she simultaneously watched Wolf Blitzer, cooked dinner and snapped at you to “stop cussing so much, jeez.”
So this year, I’m vowing to do Mother’s Day differently. I’m going to go out and have the day I’d want to have with my mom if she were still alive. I’m going to drink tea with too much sugar, listen to Car Talk in the kitchen, and go to Bloomingdales to spend too much money on La Mer face cream. I’m going to get a pedicure, splurge for the 10 minute foot massage, and not feel guilty that someone has to touch my leg stubble. I am going to spoil my daughters and buy myself a bouquet of flowers and shower myself with the love I’d give to her, if only she were here.
Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be just about the living. And it doesn’t have to be about the dead, either. It can be about honoring YOU, because you are one of the best things she ever did (and if for some reason she never told you that, I am telling you so). You deserve to have a goddamned great day whether she’s here or not, whether you are a mom or not.
Some of the most magical moments in my life occurred as my mom was dying. This is the painful, beautiful truth about grief that only those who have been sucked into it can understand. Happy things grow from sadness, and Mother’s Day is no different. Find the small speck of joy in an otherwise bummer of a day. And let it grow.
This year, treat yourself on Mother’s Day. Make yourself breakfast in bed (or better yet, order it on Seamless), get the massage AND the facial, sit outside at brunch for too long and order way too much champagne. March down the card aisle in Target, buy a Mother’s Day card, and send it to yourself. Start new, weird traditions that make the day joyful again. Volunteer your time, go rock climbing, split a bottle of wine or five with the other motherless friends in your life.
Celebrate the person you’ve become not just in her absence, but because of it. Don’t just get through the day –- own it, for fuck’s sake. (Sorry, mom.)