Whose Day is it Anyway? Mother’s Day or Grandmother’s Day?

Here in North America, the second Sunday of May is called Mother’s Day, a day set aside to recognize and celebrate mothers and maternal figures. However, I’ve noticed that in the last several years, a significant number of my mum friends and acquaintances are busy making reservations for brunch, purchasing groceries and tidying their houses in preparation for a dinner…if this day is supposed to be about the mothers, why are they spending so much time and preparation to celebrate themselves? And if they aren’t planning elaborate celebrations for themselves on Mother’s Day, then for whom are they planning?

The answer, perhaps not surprisingly is grandmothers. To those of us who are mothers of young children now, we have a greater respect and perhaps understanding of what our mothers did (or did not) do for us, and we’d like to show our appreciation. In a society where it is extremely difficult to find reliable, affordable, and secure childcare, many families turn to grandparents as the best (and often only) solution. So it’s great that today’s mums want to honour their mums on this special day, but somehow I feel that it loses some of the meaning for them–the mums who are doing their best each and every day to care for their children–who are just that, children–not grown adults with families of their own.

Wikipedia states that Mother’s Day “is the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States and Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards.” How much of this money is being spent on “mums only” as opposed to “mums/grandmums”? Social media like Pinterest and Facebook often seems to promote the idea that mums need to make Mother’s Day special and better…for their own mums and in many cases, mother-in-laws, and in some cases their grandmothers as well. I had one friend tell me that she wasn’t sure how she would be able to organize Mother’s Day this year in order to see her mother, her step-mother, her partner’s mother, and 3 grandmothers! I wonder how long my friend will have to wait for her turn to catch her breath on Mother’s Day.

I don’t think we should forget about or discount the impact of grandmothers. They are also mothers and have been lucky enough to live long enough to see their children become parents. It’s important to celebrate and acknowledge them. But…I really feel that today’s mothers who are tired of doing load after load of laundry, tired of rushing home straight from work to soccer practice, tired of making meals that are criticized and rejected–tired of being tired, who need that break the most.

Mother's Day 2012. Photo by T. Wilkie

Mom and Baby. Photo Credit: T. Wilkie

So to all mums out at a Mother’s Day brunch who are trying to keep their kids from spilling chocolate milk all over the table while Grandma sips her tea, to all mums who have pleaded and cajoled with their kids to “please wear the dress Grandma gave you so we can finish tidying the house and get the turkey in the oven so that we’re ready for when she arrives”–try to find a moment today to celebrate you. This is your day. Our day. Mother’s Day. You are worth it. If you are unable to find a moment this afternoon because you are busy dividing your time between grandmas and great-grandmas, please take a moment either tonight before bed or first thing tomorrow morning  (I realize that you will have to get up extra early because you have to make lunches for daycare and get the kids ready for school but this is worth it) to sit down at your calendar and turn to May 13, 2018 and write: MY DAY! I AM WORTH IT! Then turn back to April 13, 2018 (since lots of mums plan ahead) and write: MOTHER’S DAY! DON’T MAKE BRUNCH RESOS! Underline the word Mother!

And next year, take those mothers who are now grandmothers out for lunch on a Thursday in May. Send them some flowers. Have your kids make cards and crafts for them. Give them a call and tell them you love them. But on May 13, 2018, do what you want to do. No excuses. It’s YOUR day. You are worthy of it. You have earned it and by god(s), you deserve it.

P.S. Both my mother and my partner’s mother are very gracious in acknowledging and recognizing that today is Mother’s Day and for this, I love and appreciate them even more. And I will wish them both a Happy Mother’s Day, but only after I’ve enjoyed some well deserved time for me.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.