Mothers’ Day has never been an easy occasion for me. My family wasn’t big on celebrating the “Hallmark Holidays.” I remember one time when I was about 12 my friend Janet took me with her when she went shopping for a Mothers’ Day present for her mom, and insisted that I buy something for my mom too–and she paid for it, since I hadn’t come prepared.
When I gave my mother the present–I think it was a handkerchief–she got angry with me. I don’t even recall if I told her I didn’t pay for it; she was just against useless presents for holidays cooked up for the profit of greeting-card and gift companies. In our house, any worthwhile roots of the holiday (its contemporary version stems from Julia Ward Howe’s response to the carnage of the Civil War) were irrelevant compared to the need to protest commercialism. (Birthdays didn’t fare much better.)
In the intervening 40 years or so, each time the second week of May rolls around, I’ve wrestled with “Do I/Don’t I acknowledge my mother on this day?”
Last year we found our solution. As the M day approached, an Op Ed piece by Nicholas Kristoff appeared in the New York Times. In it he suggested that readers commemorate the day with a donation to causes that lift up women around the world. He appealed for support for the Mothers’ Day Movement–and readers subsequently donated more than $135,000.
My mother called me and mentioned the Kristof column. Right away I became one of those donors. I sent her a card telling her of the gift in her name. She thanked me.
I did the same thing this week.
I feel much better without the angst of “Do I/Don’t I,” which annually summoned the memory of that perplexing confrontation 40+ years ago between a mother and daughter who have always struggled to “get” each other. It’s nice to be working together for a change. And hopefully, working for Change for women with much worse problems than ours.
– Sarah White