Don’t. Say. It.
It’s the 2nd Sunday of May. That’s the day women with no children and dead mothers consciously or unconsciously stay home. We organize closets. We cook. We watch movies. Anything to stay out of the public eye – to avoid the inevitable, the “Happy Mother’s Day!” greeting delivered with a smile.
I thought I was safe this year. I went no further than my own front porch. I was working on some potted plants. Then a woman walked by. I smiled at her, as I smile at everyone who walks by. Then she said it. And in that moment, I was faced with the odd dilemma of what to say to her in return. Instinctively, I did what my own mother taught me when I was young and responded in kind, “Happy Mother’s Day to you, too”. But it wasn’t sincere. I was angry that it came out of my mouth. And it started me thinking.
WHY do people say “Happy Mother’s Day” to women, especially women they do not know? I suspect that the first response most people will have to that question is, “Everyone has (or has had) a mother!! I am being polite.”. Yes, this is true, we were all born of someone.
But I think that response is false. Case in point: do you say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” to men you pass on the street? Most people do not, yet were they not also born of a mother?
In thinking long and hard about it, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that it is sexist. Not overt sexism, but an unconscious lesson that was somehow planted deep in our subconscious – that it is alright, downright encouraged, to say, “Happy Mother’s Day” to any adult female.
It doesn’t happen on Father’s Day. People don’t blurt, “Happy Father’s Day!” to my partner when we are out in public. Grocery stores don’t give men roses on Father’s Day at the check-out (yes, I was given a rose on Mother’s Day one year, along with the ever-present greeting). If it isn’t drilled into us to say it to every man we pass on Father’s Day, why is it something the “polite” thing to say to women on Mother’s Day?
I don’t mean to spoil the holiday for those who choose to celebrate it. If you are a mom, go for it! This is your day – celebrate. And I would be the first to say that if you still have a mother then take her to brunch, write her a poem, and spoil her with flowers.
|My mom and I, circa 1966|
|Love you, too, Mom.|