I adore Anne Lamott and her writing. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Wr
iting and Life
is one of my favorite books on writing. And life.
iting and Life
So what I’m about to share with you came as a surprise even to me. Who knew I had this bitter side?
One early May was catching up on some reading and came across this Salon article Why I Hate Mother’s Day by Anne Lamott and something took over me. I got shakin’ mad. And I couldn’t let this one go down without a fight.
Since it’s that time of year again, I thought you might appreciate a mother-to-mother smack down — tee hee. Leeehhhhts Rumble!
In response to Anne Lamott’s “I Hate Mother’s Day” in Salon
Dear Anne Lamott,
I hate mother’s day too, for the same reason I hate all of the other holidays. Because it’s too much pressure and I have to do all the work.
Hating a holiday is not reason enough to quit it though. No, I wouldn’t let myself get off that easy, and I’m feeling pretty mad at you now Anne Lamott. Like I felt when my little sister quit piano lessons and I was stuck doing arpeggios in that moldy little practice room for another decade. I never realized that quitting was an option, you see. And by the time I caught on, I was already too invested in being the good child that doesn’t quit like her ungrateful little sister. And that song is still playing on in 6/8 time…
You shouldn’t be allowed to quit, Anne Lamott. You’re getting away with something that we all should have to go through. It’s like cheating on taxes or neglecting to mow your lawn as often as the homeowner’s association says you should. Or telling the dentist you floss your teeth every night and it’s your over-acting plaque making glands that are to blame for the excessive tarter. And maybe it’s like none of those things, but it’s definitely like those gorgeous movie stars who go to Harvard and Yale. Because they have a right to do that, it’s a free country, but then they do a crappy movie and I want to throw grapefruits at the movie screen (and also at Harvard and Yale and then, just for good measure, at Princeton) How smart are you now?
Scratch that. It was the sleep deprivation talking. But I just had some coffee and this other thing occurred to me: If you don’t like Mother’s Day, perhaps you should celebrate it as I do — with a vengeance. I celebrate it for my husband too, because he’s not likely to remember to send flowers to his mom and because that kind of thoughtfulness is,
in our family at least, a woman’s job. And for this, and a hundred thousand million other jobs I do as a wife and a mother, I want my damn chocolates whether I’m on a diet or not. And you were right, I am.
I don’t agree that celebrating mother’s day is endorsing the idea that those with children are more important than those without. Before I had children, I didn’t feel offended by Mother’s Day. Did you? Really?
In fact, the holiday was even better then because I didn’t feel the pressure of reacting to the handprint on a plate as if it were the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life. OK, the handprint was pretty cute. Still, if I don’t correctly intone the “Oooos” and “Awwwws” I could give my daughter a complex about Mother’s Day. Or make her feel inferior in her handprinting abilities, or, god forbid, in her hand itself.
Which brings me to my main point. Just suck it up and take the flowers and don’t require that they were picked instead of bought. And don’t worry about all the people who aren’t your mother but who mothered you anyway. This isn’t their day. Whether you’re thrilled with your mother or not, everybody has one. And even if she’s dead or distant or you don’t like her, your life has begun through her. Isn’t that something worth giving a nod to?