Mother’s Day is coming up. Any tips for not being a jerk then?
Do I ever!
1. Please do not wish someone you do not know a happy mother’s day. I’m serious. Don’t do it. I don’t care if you work in retail selling flowers and mother’s day cards, just don’t do it. Not everyone is a mother. Or likes their mother. Some might be desperate to be mothers but are having challenges. Others may have lost their mother recently — or years ago — and find Mother’s Day to be extraordinarily painful. Even if you see a woman holding flowers and walking with children, she might be an aunt or close family friend. Save it for your own mother.
2. Please do not assume that the women you know who are mothers are observing the holiday. I mean, it’s possible that they are. They might be excited for the macaroni picture frame, the breakfast in bed, and the trip to the zoo. But they also might just want to have a nice Sunday with the family, and ignore the fact that their can’t talk to their deceased mother anymore.
3. Please do not take it upon yourself to push a friend who is estranged from her mother to contact her. Motherhood does not miraculously turn jerks into good people; some mothers are genuinely horrible, and their children shouldn’t feel shamed into calling them just because it’s Mother’s Day.
4. This is specific to partners of mothers: please do not use Mother’s Day as an excuse to treat your partner amazingly to the exclusion of most other days. You aren’t a hero for taking the kids for the afternoon — they are your kids, and you should already be doing a significant part of the parenting. Helping your kid buy a bouquet and then taking them out for ice cream while your partner gets a manicure is great; being fully present the other 364 days a year is even better.
5. If you do find that you are engaging in what you feel are obligatory activities in honor of Mother’s Day, please do not complain about it to your friends who no longer have their mothers in their lives. While you are definitely allowed your feelings, consider how it might make your friend feel.
6. Allow yourself to grieve the day if you are not close to your mother, or you have lost your mother, or you didn’t have any mother at all. (I’d suggest not taking yourself out for brunch if you are woman, however, as some server who didn’t read this post will inevitably wish you a happy Mother’s Day.)
7. If you love Mother’s Day and enjoy celebrating with your children and your own mother, don’t feel guilty or bad (in spite of what I’ve written above). If you want to mark the day with all the things we think of when we picture Mother’s Day, then you should go for it.