Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I am not a fan of Mother's Day (or Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, Valentine's Day etc, etc. etc). I feel that if we need marketing juggernauts to tell us to appreciate someone then there is something very wrong in our lives.

I know my children love and appreciate me. They show me their feelings every day, in a myriad of small ways. I don't need them to rush out to Hallmark and to enlarge Hallmark's bottom line to understand that my children love and appreciate me.

If they didn't show their feelings on a regular basis but gave me Mother's Day cards and presents I would feel somehow dirty. Dirty because there would be this feeling that the Mother's Day cards and gifts were guilt offerings, rather than true expressions of their feelings.

I was at Rite Aid this week looking for graduation cards and happened to have a look at the Mother's Day cards. There are cards for children to give to their mothers (which one would expect), there are cards for grandchildren to give to grandmothers (stretching it more than somewhat) and then there are cards that defy logic. Cards for sisters to give to sisters, mothers to give to daughters and in-laws, grandmothers to give to their daughters, daughters-in-laws and grandchildren and any combination the Hallmark marketing department could think of.

I come from a family that believes that small, unexpected tokens are of more value than ritualized giving, so we completely eschew the so called, Hallmark Holidays. We like to surprise each other with thoughtful gifts, poems, calls, notes etc throughout the year. Nothing is expected, we just do things when we see something appropriate or feel like doing so. We don't even make big deals about birthdays. We're ecstatic to receive gifts and calls on birthdays but aren't heartbroken if we're forgotten (and in my family that happens all the time. I certainly can't complain because I forget my own birthday all the time).

I've noticed that here in the States, many people appear to live and die by Hallmark Holidays. To not show the proper respect for one of them is to give the gravest insult. Talk about a culture clash. Hallmark has done such a magnificent job of insinuating itself into the national psyche that I've met people who send thank you cards for such things as Mother's Day cards and even thank you calls for thank you cards. This is a bit like images in opposing mirrors, will the cards never end? I suppose the answer is self evident. No, they won't because for them to end puts a crimp on Hallmark's profitability numbers.

One of the cards that I have always found a tad weird are anniversary cards. I find sentiments like "Congratulations, you've managed another year" or "Well done on ten years of marriage!" insulting.

People make it sound like marriage is a prison sentence. I certainly don't wake up once a year and think, "Thank god, I've survived another year married to that maniac. I need a medal for this. it's tough going.". I love Marc, I am thankful every day that we found each other despite being separated by half a world, I'm excited that we get to spend our lives together. There is nothing hard or prison like being with him. Marc and I don't need an anniversary date to make us appreciate each other. In fact, we've managed to forget our wedding anniversary for 8 years and I suspect we'll continue to do so until the end of our lives. The only reason we remember it is because we receive phone calls of congratulations. I'm always tempted to ask, "Congratulations for what?" What's to congratulate on a wedding anniversary? Sticking with a marriage? Every day in my marriage is a gift, not a badge of courage for which I deserve congratulations.

Marc and I are bringing our children up to have a healthy disregard for marketing messages and as such, the Hallmark Holidays are not celebrated in our home. However, our children live in a world that is larger than just our little home so they have become aware of Mother's Day and Father's Day. Ben, as I would expect, totally ignores them. Let's rather say, he ignores them until he sees Shira doing something then he appears to gives something bigger and better. Notice I said "appears". When he saw what Shira gave me, he announced that he was going to give me a massage for Mother's Day. A three hour one at that (this was when Shira gave me a second present). I am still waiting for the massage though.

Mother's Day is an opportunity for Shira to indulge in two of her passions. She loves giving joy through gifts and she loves doing crafts. This day allows her to meld the two passions into one.

She made me a book bag that was a delight to behold. It was bedecked with jewels and glitter and looked like every little girl's dream book bag.

She also made me a gorgeous candle holder, resplendent with jewels and sparklies.

The candle holder came complete with strict instructions that I was to use it tonight to have a long, relaxing bath. My child has my number. Nothing like a long, relaxing soak in the tub to rejuvenate the spirit.

I am in awe of my children and especially of Shira. I am not crafty in the slightest and here I have two very crafty children. The other day they decorated new tea towels for the kitchen.

Ben and Shira have developed a love for these fabric brush markers and have been using them for their regular artwork. I've never realized that brush markers existed. I love how the kids get the feel of brushes without the mess associated with paints so I have ordered them some regular brush markers. This way I don't have to worry about the paint going through the paper the way the fabric paint does.

Back to Mother's Day. Yesterday I expounded on my feelings about Mother's Day to the children and explained that if they truly wanted to give me a Mother's Day present that would mean a lot to me, a day on my own would do the trick.

I borrowed 8 DVD's from the library yesterday and suggested that the children watch them and keep themselves amused today and let me spend the day enjoying my own company with no demands being made on me or my time.

The two of them have been splendid. Ben has ignored me entirely and Shira has come to show me various crafts that she's been making. Marc has done his own thing and reaped the benefit of my wishes as he too is getting alone, quiet time.

Life is good in this family of loners. All four of us are getting to spend a day reveling in our own company. We're rejuvenating and relaxing. This is going to be a great week.


Rose Godfrey said...

yeah, who wants a card? I'd rather have baby giggles, sticky hugs and a craft project made with love. And I'm happy to get those every day.

Kim said...

I'm with you, Shez! We had a nice family dinner at the Outback on Saturday night (my choice) and on Sunday Glen mowed the lawn, the kids played with their friends outside, and I did some gardening and then relaxed on the deck with a crossword puzzle. We had a family snuggle after take-out pizza (again, my choice!) watching "Nature" on PBS, and then Glen and I watched "Cranford" while he gave me a nice foot massage. Now that's my kind of Mother's Day!