excerpt …No mother is a cliché
For many reasons, it might have been easier for me to celebrate a commemoration of women’s pacifism and civic contributions while I was growing up. When I was in my teens and 20s, I found Mother’s Day particularly difficult. The social expectations around the holiday seemed to revolve around honouring a type of Leave it to Beaver domestic goddess. I could never find a card that could even start to describe the complex feelings I had about my complex mother. We had a challenging relationship. Even though I deeply respected and admired her devotion to medicine, her hard work and many talents in making music and art, I mostly tried to stay out of her way, leery of her sudden rages and tirades. Even back then, I realized she was parenting as best as she could with no parenting role models herself. During her childhood, her own mother had disliked her for being a daughter and had little to do with her upbringing. And my maternal grandmother in turn had been sold as a young girl by my great-grandmother, her mother. My class-conscious paternal grandmother was distant and disapproving.
As a result, I grew up somewhat alienated from the inherent glorification and idealization of motherhood embodied in Mother’s Day, forced to profess sentiments I didn’t necessarily feel, while being riddled with guilt for not feeling them.
When I became a mother myself, I questioned gender stereotypes and the unequal division of domestic duties the same way my own mother did, but gained a deeper understanding of the significance, challenges and pleasures of parenthood from the years of sleepless nights to the delights of receiving another bouquet of freshly plucked dandelions. Perhaps Anna Jarvis was right that greeting cards could never suffice: no parent can be reduced to a few cliché-ridden stanzas in a store-bought card….