Herein this post, I detail my complicated relationship with Mother’s Day. I mean, who loves Mother’s Day? But my own experiences over two decades take my anti sentiments to a whole different level.
On my second time being away from Halifax (and this time it will stick), since summer 2004, 11 Mother’s Days have gone by including last Sunday. Other than three years (this year, last year and 2011), I have been back to Halifax each and every Mother’s Day weekend whether it is traveling from Toronto (in 2012) or Vancouver (the other seven times) in order to work at the family restaurant.
Whewf! That’s a lot of travel, even for me – 6.5 hours flying one-way, not including a connection – and I’ve actually done that twice (in 2010 and 2007) without taking any days off work, i.e., leave Friday night, return Monday morning.
Because in terms of big business days for restaurants, New Year’s Eve ranks first and Mother’s Day is a close second.
We’ve had our restaurant since 1991, so as far back as I can remember – like some time in high school in the mid-90s – through the first time I left Halifax in the late 90s and until I left in 2004, I’ve worked every Mother’s Day as well. That’s two decades of working the second Sunday of May and we’ve been through every grief possible such that I just don’t embrace the “Hallmark Holiday” like everyone else and kind shudder when my Facebook feed is overrun with tributes to moms who got flowers and spa treatments and dinners surrounded by her children.
For me, Mother’s Day is spending the day at the restaurant rushing around and yelling orders and at times people including my parents. That is our version of family time and anything else is commonplace and disquieting.
It’s petty and utterly self-centered of me but when I haven’t been in Halifax, I haven’t been thrilled to go out with other mothers who are leisurely retired from cushy office jobs and their children live in the same city and can see her often enough. Meanwhile, my mother is older than most of my friends’ mothers and not retired and has been up late every night for a week preparing for the big business day and for hours on end on the Sunday, she, my sister and father are stressed out and working at full tilt to please other mothers.
This year was the first year neither my sister nor I went back to Halifax and my parents – the oldest they have ever been – worked all alone. Not too surprisingly, they managed and that is a testament that they know the business and we are just dropping in, not adding that much value. Still, I was wracked with guilt at times during the day spending time with a mother-to-be and a new mother: I wasn’t spending time with my mother.
As with most things, I’m starting to let go. Yet, I still think most of the traditional activities conducted on the day are a hokey gestures given how I’ve spent most of my Mother’s Days, I don’t think I desire them for myself. Meanwhile, NPY has increasing appreciation of what it takes to bring a being to life so we’re all just growing up.