It’s a news flash to nobody that life is harsh and complicated. Holidays often cater to a very utopian vision of the world—a reality in which death, divorce, and absent parents don’t exist. They also continue to defer to a heterosexual ideal, in which the possibility of someone being raised by two dads is disregarded. I don’t blame us, the collective we, for this continuation of dated norms; in the shooting down of ignorance and narrow minds, holidays have understandably been the last of our concerns. But as Mother’s Day looms, it seems prescient to point out that they need reevaluating. With our society changing (molasses-dripping-style, but still), these tried-and-true traditions need to change too.
To wit, a landscape that is not carved out of Ladies’ Home Journal:
There are those people who don’t speak to their mothers, many with good reason. Those who don’t know their mothers, or simply feel disconnected from them—even when they’re in the same room. There are those whose mothers passed away, either in the distant or recent past. And those with stepmoms, who either do or don’t live up to the monstrous associations, perhaps even some whom they might love like their own. There are also those people who are closer to their dads—men who they would claim have been the real mother figures in their lives. And those who only know a life led by men, gents who raised and nurtured them all the same. Indeed, many people lack close family ties altogether, and have fashioned “mothers” out of onetime strangers, guardian angels who help close (soothe?) whatever technical gaps exist.
I’ve been ridiculously privileged in the mom department myself—with both a mother and a stepmother whom I very much love. But I know that these relationships come in various shades, and that they don’t all fit into the confines that Hallmark has laid out for us. That said, I don’t think Mother’s Day should be viewed in such an exclusive light, solely for the woman from whose bosom you arrived on earth.
It’s a day that should honor whoever has nurtured you, helped you play this game of life, and loved you even when you were the scariest definition of astray. If that person doesn’t want to celebrate to the tune of pink sweaters from Talbots, a spa day, and brunch with the Brady’s—well, that’s not really a new normal, but the normal that is finally starting to find a bit of light.