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Jun 12 2013

Why We Don’t Celebrate Mother’s Day, but Do Celebrate Father’s Day

By at 10:00 am

father's dayI have never liked having a fuss made over me. I skipped both my high school and my college graduation ceremonies because I didn’t see a point to the long-winded, tedious ritual (held outside in the heat, no less). My husband and I got married at City Hall, because I felt the same way about weddings. (Maybe I inherited the trait from my own mother. Whenever we go to a friend’s wedding, she always tells my husband and I, “Thank you so much for not putting me through this.”) 

I don’t mind being celebrated when I’ve achieved something I believe to be truly exceptional–when I was nominated for an Emmy Award, I went (I lost); when I won a SCRIBE prize for my novel, I made a speech (though I was so surprised, my husband did say I resembled Anna Paquin at the Oscars).

But, I never expect birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day or–God forbid–“push presents.” (The latter expression itself just makes me go “ick.”)

This would be because I expect to be loved and venerated every day of the year, not just on ones designated by Hallmark.

I didn’t need my husband to buy me a diamond to “thank me” after our middle child was born. Not after, when I was nine months pregnant during the East Coast-wide blackout in August of 2003, he got up every hour at night to wipe me down with a wet cloth so that I wouldn’t overheat.

I don’t need an anniversary card or a stuffed teddy bear holding a frilly heart when I have a man who celebrates our marriage daily by doing the laundry and picking up groceries on his way home from work and taking our daughter to school so I can commute to my dream job out of state.

And I don’t need a Mother’s Day present from him. Primarily because I am not his mother.

When it comes to my kids, I’ll take a trio who say “please” and “thank you” and do their chores and speak politely to their grandparents and entertain themselves when I’m busy and do their best at school and treat me with respect 12 months out of the year over any one, random day of breakfast in bed.

My husband, on the other hand, cares about being celebrated on Father’s Day. (So does my own father. Woe be it to my brother and I if our congratulatory email isn’t in before he wakes up, followed by a phone call and perhaps a Skype session for good measure.)

And because it matters to my husband, we go ahead and make a big fuss. The kids cook breakfast (and clean up the subsequent mess). They make him gifts and cards and we take pictures as he opens and poses with each one (child and trinket). The same goes for his birthday and other national, gift-giving occasions. My husband wants a huge to-do, and thus a huge to-do is had. (As I wrote in my post about how all people are not the same, my Golden Rule isn’t “Do onto others as you would have done onto yourself,” but “Do onto others as they would have onto themselves.” The other way just never made any sense to me. And it certainly would be counterproductive in this situation. No one would get what they wanted if we used ourselves as the measuring stick)

The kids love celebrating Father’s Day, too. First you have the days of preparation, the secrecy, the whispers and plans followed by the anticipation, and then the “Surprise! Were you really surprised, Daddy? Really, really surprised?”

In fact, watching their enthusiasm was what prompted me to soften my own stance on the subject. Gradually, I began to see a ritual celebration as something that’s not necessarily for the guest of honor, but rather for the ones who put it together. (Which, again, ties in with my backwards Golden Rule philosophy.)

I didn’t need Mother’s Day or anniversaries or birthday parties. I’m perfectly happy with how I’m treated every day.

But my kids need it. They want to do this–ostensibly for me.

So I let them. This year, I opened the gifts they’d made me and I “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” appropriately. I read the cards with their varied messages, from my kindergartner’s “I Love You Mommy Love To From Love” to my 8th grader’s “To the Receiver of this Envelope” address with it’s “Don’t Have a Crappy Day” wish on the inside.

After all, what can be a more meaningful celebration of Mother’s Day than, once again, doing something for my kids’ sake?

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