Sunday, May 08, 2011

word to your mother

According to the word of the Lord Wikipedia, the founder of Mother's Day in the United States, Anna Jarvis, was so disgusted with the commercialization of the holiday that she spent the rest of her life protesting it, even getting arrested for disturbing the peace at one point. I think that's gorgeous. Not because I have a real problem with Mother's Day, but because I have a problem with expectations.

I love my mom. Point blank period. We have a fantastic relationship and pretty much always have, even during some of the hairier adolescent years. We're extraordinarily different people with personalities that could otherwise clash, and we certainly don't see much of the world the same way, but she's amazing. For all that I could find fault with, she really is the perfect mom -- not because she has no flaws, but actually because she does. As a parent, she has never been motivated by anything other than what she sincerely believed were my best interests, health, and happiness, and I don't think I could ask for much more than that. Especially as we get older and our relationship evolves, I really like her as a person, too. She's funny, smart, kind, and interesting. I just love the lady, what can I say.

My mom is fond of the saying, "Don't stand on ceremony," which I've always taken to mean, "Let's not let our behavior be dictated by what day it is on the calendar, or the setting we find ourselves in, or what we think we're 'supposed' to do at this moment." Instead, let's be authentic. That's why it takes me an hour and half to buy my mom a greeting card. I have never been a fan of letting someone else's words speak for me, especially when they're dripping with manufactured sentiment. I understand why Anna Jarvis railed against the holiday she'd created -- it had gone from a means of honoring one's mother to a largely empty exercise in commerce. Honestly, the part where we're supposed to buy our moms cards and flowers and go out to dinner doesn't bother me -- the part the bothers me is the expectation of what our relationships with our mothers are supposed to be like. Like most other holidays, there is an assumption that we're all celebrating in the same uncomplicated way, and if not, there's something wrong with us. Well, that's just crap.

So I'm going to say this (and I'm really saying it to one friend in particular): Mother's Day gets to be whatever you want it to be. Doesn't matter what Hallmark, or your coworkers, or even your mother tells you it should be. If you grew up without a mom -- or wish you did -- it doesn't mean that today you have to sit in a closet and feel like shit. It means that, while some of us are celebrating the people we are because of our moms, you can celebrate the person you are despite yours. You can celebrate the mom you will one day be. My mom, who as we have discussed doesn't stand on ceremony, would tell you the same thing. And then she'd make you a sandwich.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

one wedding and a funeral

Ugh. Just ugh. After an extraordinarily sad Saturday, I am still emotionally hungover. This is notable, given that I have regularly scheduled mental breakdowns all the time and I seem to bounce back okay. Maybe it's because this time, my sadness is almost entirely empathetic. In a rare moment, I didn't make someone else's pain about me, and that's kind of significant. (Of course, the fact that I feel the need to point it out is pretty immature and self-centered, but it is my blog after all.)

Saturday, I went to a memorial service where an old friend laid to rest someone very close to her. I am being in no way sentimental or melodramatic when I say it was utterly heartbreaking. As I alluded to earlier this week on the day I found out the news, it's not my place to give details, so I won't. And earlier when I mentioned it,  I was making it about me -- seemed I couldn't help but look inward at my own shortcomings. But on Saturday all I could do was imagine what my friend and her family were experiencing, and it punched me in the gut, repeatedly. And still.

There are those friendships that, over the years, dwindle down to virtually no contact. Nothing has to "happen," exactly, it's just that people change and so do our lives, perspectives, and priorities. That's fine -- I can do without a lot of the people that were in my life at one time or another. But there are some people, and my old friend is one of them, about whom I will always give a damn. It kind of sucks, to tell you the truth. I wish I could have just gone to the service, been appropriately sad for the duration, and then moved on during the car ride home. But that's the problem when people mean something to you, even if that meaning is grounded exclusively in the past: You care.

So yeah, the royal wedding. I said before that I just don't get it, and I don't. To put a finer point on it, I neither get it from an I-love-weddings point of view, an I-am-interested-in-royalty angle, or the this-is-historic-so-pay-attention perspective. I do not love weddings. I find royalty as tedious as I find most "normal" people. As for whether it's historic -- well, yeah, I guess technically it is historic, but I don't buy that that means I must pay attention to it. Simply by virtue of its historicity it will have been more than amply recorded, analyzed and cataloged for future generations' reference. If one day some kid, perhaps my own, asks me about it, I will point them to a book. If books no longer exist, I will point them to the internet. If the internet no longer exists, I will tell them to go ask our alien overlords, mommy's tired from working in the embryo fields all day.

As for my feelings about weddings, let me just say that I am not anti-wedding, and I am certainly not anti-marriage (which is a very different thing entirely), but I am anti-every-little-girl-dreams-of-this-day bullshit. I used to be a little girl, believe it or not, and I guarangoddamntee you I never, not for one second, dreamed about my wedding. I never designed a dress or a cake in my head. (I should clarify that I never designed a wedding cake in my head. Truth be told, I actually think about cake a lot.) I pay no attention to celebrity weddings. In fact, the last one I read anything about was Chelsea Clinton's and that's only because she had a gluten-free wedding cake (what did I tell you?). Look, I don't even think very much about marriage and motherhood, but at least those things occasionally cross my mind. My wedding? Never. This particular wedding? Not even once. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy learning of some things wedding-related after the fact, but it was not an event in my life.

Important: If you're reading this and I've been (or will be going) to your wedding, please don't take this post to mean I didn't/won't care. I do. I've been genuinely moved at many a ceremony, and I sincerely appreciate being asked to attend. It's just not my thing, that's all, and I resent the 79 people who asked me on Friday if I had watched the royal wedding and were shocked and dismayed to find that I hadn't. It's just like anything else -- I don't care what you do to entertain yourself as long as it doesn't involve taking advantage of children, the elderly, or horses. I would appreciate if that was reciprocal. No one gets to tell me what's important to me, and if I don't like what you like, that doesn't mean I don't like you. Except of course when it does.