My Trouble With Mother’s Day

“Happy” doesn’t cut it.

3 min readMay 15


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This past weekend, I texted my three grown children (all in their forties) the following words:

To my kids re Mother’s Day: I always feel weird when Mother’s Day comes around. This natural connection is always spun into an obligatory, commercial nightmare and I hate the way it feels. So. You can give me anything you want, so long as it didn’t cost you any money. My love for all three of you is deep and wide-ranging, and completely messed up and (as my four-year-old grandson wisely points out) “there’s nothing to do about it.”

It felt liberating to speak the words. I could’ve done this at any time in the past few decades, but for some reason, the words ripened this year.

I watched the spell being cast starting probably even before
April, but certainly by April. Ads wherever they can hold our eyeballs captive, “Show your mother you love her.” “Let her know how important she is.” Everyone looking for that perfect gift that will make her smile that sentimental smile they always show on TV. Especially yesterday at the mall, the day before Mother’s Day.

Let’s get real. All that rushing around isn’t about how much you love your mother, or how important she is to you. It’s about sales. Retail sales. Bottom line. It’s about the economy and frothing people up into a lather over how much they can spend on [fill in the blank — but today it was Mother’s] Day.

I don’t need my children to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. I love it when they do, of course, but I am in their lives. They are in mine. The massive Mother’s Day ad campaign that our country soaks in during the month of May is more of a distraction for the living connection between me and my kids. We really don’t need your cardboard cutouts of what you think it should look like, corporate America.

That’s not where motherhood shines. Motherhood makes its mark when your life is falling apart and you can’t get out of bed, but you do it anyway, because your kids need to eat.

It makes its mark when something is wrong, but she’s too young to talk so she throws a gigantic tantrum, and you don’t know what to do, and no one else does either, so you have to let them scream it out. Everyone in the…




Novelist. Poet. Musician. Buddhist. Quilter. Animal lover. Visible grownup. Hidden child. Secret dancer when all alone. Makes good bread.