Due to circumstances that give no cause for celebration, I will find myself away from home next Sunday, in a country that has already celebrated Mother’s Day, back in March. I’m very glad for the reprieve from the unavoidable Mother’s Day festivities here. Usually on that day I avoid restaurants that might be handing out flowers to all the mothers, and steer clear of stores festooned with gifts I might have liked, had I been a mother. Pretty much I avoid anywhere where I might be at risk of some unsuspecting person innocently wishing me “Happy Mother’s Day” and forcing me to again face the fact that I am not a mother.
But just because I don’t care to celebrate Mother’s Day as a kind of national holiday, doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate my mother on that day, or in my case, in March. I send her a homemade card (because it’s impossible to find a Mother’s Day card in U.S. stores in March), give her a gift that I’ll know she’ll appreciate more than flowers—new cycling gear, or something practical for her garden. If I could choose my mother again from a catalog of all mothers, I’d still pick the same model (maybe with an added “chocolate cake baking” feature), and I wouldn’t dream of not honoring her on Mother’s Day.
But I want to do it in my own way. I want to call her and wish her a happy Mother’s Day, as a private celebration between mother and daughter, and let my brothers celebrate her in their own way, too. To me, Mother’s Day has never been a universal holiday where everything stops to revolve around mothers. It shouldn’t be a day when complete strangers wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. But it is, and I so can’t help feeling like a famous, though unlikable, Dickensian character, when I think: “You keep Mother’s Day in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”