With Mother's Day right around the corner, I thought now would be a useful time to review some of the do's and don'ts of this nationally recognized holiday. Specifically, I would like to talk about things you shouldn't say to moms on Mother's Day, mainly because I've observed that some people just don't get it and, well, need some guidance.
Moms deserve Mother's Day, people. Being a mother is tough and, more often than not, much of motherhood is unremarked upon, "invisible" labor. This is to say nothing of actual labor, too, which many mothers will suffer through, which deserves its own holiday of recognition if you ask me. Personally, I choose not to make a particularly big deal of the day, and I know a lot of people for whom it's also not a big deal for various reasons., too I also know other women for whom it's a very special and important day, again, for any number of reasons. No one's reasons are any more valid than the other and none require explanation. I just consider "Mother's Day" a "do the moms in your life a favor by being extra nice to them and allowing them to call all the shots" day.
You can especially do them honor, however, by never allowing any of the following to escape your lips. So, whether the mom in your life thinks Mother's Day is a big deal, or she would rather just skip the day and call it good, make sure you don't say the following things. Ever.
"Wish You A Happy What Now?"
In this day and age there is just no excuse for forgetting important or notable dates. You have a calendar in your pocket with you at all times. Set reminders. Set alarms. Set several of both. Mother's Day has been celebrated the second Sunday in May for the past 103 years in the United States. This isn't terribly difficult.
"You Should Call Your Toxic/Abusive/Evil Mother"
Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. This goes for everyone, but especially for moms (simply because one doesn't get to tell a mom what to do on Mother's Day).
No one else gets to dictate someone else's relationship with their parent, especially when that relationship has a history of neglect and/or abuse. Mother's Day is not a free pass for crappy parents to pretend they're entitled to their child's love and respect when they've done nothing to earn either. If someone regularly and intentionally keeps their mother at arm's length, Mother's Day presents them with absolutely no obligation to change their standard operating procedure. That's not to say some relationships are beyond redemption, but if someone isn't ready (or doesn't want to) take the first steps to work on a relationship on Mother's Day, that is their call.
"You're Not My Mother"
This is an obnoxious thing to say in general, but it's particularly egregious when coming from a co-parent. Because oh really, beloved partner of mine? You want to play this game? Really? With the mother of your children? You wanna rewind and try that again?
Aside from this just being rude AF, this attitude is so childish and self-centered. Like, are you seriously trying to get out of doing something nice for someone on Mother's Day on some alleged technicality that you're only obligated to acknowledge your own mother today? Mother's Day is, yes, primarily about your own mother, but it's also a day for all mothers, most especially the important mothers in your life which better as hell include me. I'm not saying you have to throw a parade for every woman who has ever born and/or raised a child today, but maybe just don't be a dick.
"You Should Be Alone. You're With Your Kids All The Time!"
Mother's Day presents different ideals for different mothers. Some would like nothing more than a relaxing, kid-free day at the spa or locked in her bedroom with earplugs and a book. Other moms take the spirit of Mother's Day as a great opportunity for a family day and want to spend a designated day to bask in the adoration of her littles. That's totally fine. Don't make her feel like she's being boring or wasting an opportunity because of how she chooses to spend her day.
"Don't You Want To Spend The Day With Your Babies?"
Conversely, if the mom in your life wants to spend a day celebrating herself by herself, you leave her the f*ck alone. She has earned this. She spends a lot of time, physically or otherwise, preoccupied with her children. Trust me when I say no one will be harmed by her taking a day away.
"It's A Stupid Hallmark Holiday"
Actually, it's not. I used to think it was, too, but it wasn't invented by card companies. It was invented by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who hated card companies, and it's actually a really interesting story.
Accuracy aside, whether or not you think it's a stupid and pointless holiday is beside the point. What matters on Mother's Day is how the mothers in your life feel about it. They get to decide how important or non-important it is. Even if you think the holiday itself is silly and ridiculous, surely you love and respect those for whom the day is intended. So unless they are asking for things that are beyond your ability to give them, how on Earth does it bother you to go along and do something nice? So it's really not about honoring or not honoring Mother's Day but honoring the women in question.
"But We Have To Do Something For You!"
Nah, you really don't. Today is about doing something nice for mothers because you love them. If they say they really don't want to do anything they're under no obligation to observe a holiday in their honor that they find stupid or even distasteful. Making a mother celebrate Mother's Day completely defeats the purpose of a day where we pay her tribute.
"I Told My Mom We'd Spend The Whole Day Doing Whatever She Wanted"
Every single year at least one of my mom friends informs me that her partner has committed the family to visiting with their own mother for Mother's Day. In short, my mom friend gets shafted on her own holiday and either suffers in bitter silence (that, inevitably, comes out after it has festered and gotten uglier) or it's drama on the day itself, which isn't good for anyone involved.
So co-parents, please see what the mother of your children had in mind for the day. Certainly compromises can be made, but discuss what those will be before you commit to anything.
Any Suggestion Of Chores
Even if she otherwise doesn't acknowledge Mother's Day, just don't do it. No one has time for that nonsense on this day. Whatever you had in mind can wait or you can handle it.
"Motherhood Is The Single Most Important Thing Any Woman Can Do"
Motherhood is tremendously important to how many mothers see themselves as people, as parents, and (often) specifically as women. If we want to say, "Being a mother is the most important thing I've ever done" that's perfectly OK, because that's our truth. However, no one should feel emboldened to say it to or of anyone else. "Motherhood is the most important thing a woman can do," as a generalized statement, has been a line that's been used to keep women out of pretty much any other aspect of public (or even private) life since basically forever. It's also an overly simplified way to look at women, right? Our various accomplishments aren't pitted against one another like characters on a reality TV show where there can only be one winner. Instead, they all work in concert to form a complex and interesting human being.
All of this to say is that since mothers are complex and interesting individuals, there is no one way to observe this holiday. Follow their lead and see what will best honor the fabulous and unique moms in your life.