Surviving Mother’s Day

By Heather

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all you moms out there and to all of you who mother people you may or may not have given birth to.

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that all moms are supposed to love but some secretly hate.  I have mom friends who stay home from church on this day, fearing they’ll hear another talk about Superwomen who never get mad and bake 50 loaves of bread and go running before waking the family for scriptures and prayer every morning.  And some of my friends without children just can’t take the pain and perceived judgment and/or pity.

When I was a kid I loved Mother’s Day. My dad gave us money to buy something for my mom and would let us keep the change. I remember my kindergarten class making all our moms ashtrays and handing mine over with such pride. And the best of all were the “Mother Awards” handed out at sacrament meeting: “Who out there has more than 5 children; more than 6, 7, 8? Sister Jones has 9! Come on up and get a carnation!” I dreamed of one day winning such an award, wondering what it would feel like to be a superlative mom.

Now that I’m a mom, I’m ambivalent about the Sunday service.  I love hearing the kids sing and secretly hope one of the Sunbeams will cause a scene.  One year my 5 year old daughter shoved her 3 year old sister down during the chorus of “I Often Go Walking”, and the next thing I see is a tiny fist rise up and sock the shover in the gut. It made me proud that my girls were no shrinking violets.

What I do dread is that scripture about “her price being far above rubies.” Every year someone has to quote that one. I roll my eyes because I know my price is more in the neighborhood of the semi-precious stones.  Take your amethyst, aquamarine, or garnets, for instance. Now those are jewels one can more easily live up to.  And honestly, what’s wrong with being a turquoise mom? Rubies are overrated in my book.

And because I’m at peace with my semi-precious status, I don’t care that I’d never win any of the superlatives I so longed for as a kid. I was never the youngest mom or had the most kids or whatever else they honored. But I do like to imagine what awards I’d give out if I were in charge on Mother’s Day. How about an award for the mom who lets her 9-year old French braid her hair and wears it out in public; or an award for the mom who can nurse a baby while pushing a shopping cart and talking on the phone. And I’d like to recognize some tough mommies too: an award for the mom whose son did NOT get his Eagle because she refused to do the paperwork for him  or an award for the mom who took away her daughter’s cell phone because she was texting friends at 2a.m. Now those are some mamas who deserve a pat on the back.

So whether you’re a diamond or Cubic Zirconia, a long sufferer or a screamer, a maker of fine baked goods or a purchaser of Hostess products, I salute all the women out there who love and nurture and make mistakes and keep on going. And especially I thank all the women in my life, my friends, my sister, my daughters, and my mom, who treat me like a ruby, even when I’m not.

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9 Responses

  1. MelissaBea says:

    Thank you for this. As a non-mother, I often try to find a way to miss church on Mother’s Day. (This year I volunteered to drive my brother to the airport and thus missed the talks, flowers, etc.) I heartily second your suggestions for awards for tough moms.

  2. Brittany says:

    Thank you.
    I was one of the ones for years who hated to go on Mother’s Day. The hurt of not having children was great, especially on that day. But later after adopting, it has been the uncomfortable feeling for the other women, the ones who gave birth at 16 and placed the child with another women to love, the nursery leader who has not married and is past child bearing age.

  3. Caroline says:

    I’m a cubic z kind of woman. Roses don’t bloom beneath my feet, that’s for sure.

    And I love your anecdote about your kids pushing and socking each other during the primary performance. We need more of that kind of reality when we talk about mothering.

  4. amelia says:

    i’ve never understood the appeal of gemstones based on their perceived value. i only understand valuing them (precious, semi-precious, or other) based on their being interesting. interesting to me. vibrant color. or catching light. or the setting they’re in. even flaws. the “value” of these stones, captured by categorizing them as “semi-precious” or “precious,” is based on socially constructed ideals, not some inherent worth or their measuring up to platonic ideal that exist outside of human society.

    why do we treat women any differently? (and i deliberately use “women” and not “mothers” given the disgustingly sexist, not to mention demeaning, rhetorical move so many mormons make to include all possessors of vaginas, uteri, ovaries, and mammary glands in the category “mother”; a move reinforced by the habit of asking all women over 18 to stand and receive their mother’s day gift in sacrament) my worth has absolutely *nothing* to do with socially constructed ideals. i’m not “semi-precious” or “precious” or just “ordinary.” i very much doubt that god looks at his children in terms of how they measure up to an ideal. i think he looks at us and sees each of us as individuals. with our own interesting beauties and flaws and strengths and quirks. he loves us for who we are as individuals. so why, if we’re supposed to aspire to be like him, do we spend so damn much time praising the “ideal”? if we’d get over that deeply problematic practice (one that i think fits much more with satan’s plan than christ’s), no one would have to justify the acceptability of their “semi-precious” existence.

  5. KGS says:

    I woke my husband up laughing over your kids’ “I Often Go Walking” performance.

    I love Mother’s Day. Humor in the horrible is my favorite! I was *so* disappointed when my ward speakers barely mentioned Mother’s Day. Just regular topics. Nothing hilarious.

    “I salute all the women out there who love and nurture and make mistakes and keep on going.” This is what it’s all about! Thanks for saying so!

  6. EmilyCC says:

    I hope I can feel the peace you have over Mother’s Day, Heather! I think it’s getting better, but I’ve still got a ways to go.

    You know the Sunbeam who always makes a scene? That’s my kid (singing WAY too loud or pushing kids out of the way–charming). This year, he didn’t, and I thought I’d be relieved, but well, I was a little bummed.

    Of course, that also meant it was the first time ever that people came up and said, “Look at Asher! He was so nice and reverent.”

  7. kmillecam says:

    What a wonderful way to look at Mother’s Day: realistically. My reality is that my mother is abusive and I don’t speak with her anymore. My reality is that I am a flawed, loving mother who has bad days and good days. I am a mother who tries her best, in spite of terrible examples, and I really struggle to not beat myself up over being constantly grouchy at home with a 4- and 1-year-old.

    Of course we are all different stones, making unique plays on light or shape or color. I don’t want to be ranked, even at the top of the heap. I just want to be what I am.

  8. Debra says:

    Well, over the years I have had good mother’s days and bad ones – happy or sad – or deeply dissappointed or filled with feelings of regret or so sweet they were indescribable. I think that also captures the essence of motherhood.

    I love my children and grandchildren and being a mother and grandmother has been and is the most soul-growing experience of my life on this planet. I can’t begin to imagine my life, or myself without this soul-changing experience. From beginning with so little effective mothering role modeling, I truly feel now and have for several years, that I am a mother bone-deep.

    As far as the one-day-a-year church obligatory ritual tribute – for years, it has been a hollow ritual for me, to hear all this fine talk about women and motherhood, etc, etc, etc, when the day to day structure, organization and functioning of the institution from the central leadership to too many of our local wards and stakes, is still so stuck in a heirarchical model of placing women in a subserviant, less-than, one-down position.

    I will believe the hollow rhetoric will be more meaningful to me when I seen substantive lasting changes in the institution.

    In the meantime, we as individual women need to keep claiming and taking back our power, autonomy and equality.

    My husband and I focus on keeping our marriage a true partnership of equals, and teaching this model to those who are ready and receptive to it.

  9. Kelly Ann says:

    I wish we didn’t celebrate Mother’s or Father’s day at church. How oft our services are connected to cultural holidays (i.e. Halloween) actually disturbs me quite a bit?

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