Writer, author, memoir teacher. I write about the connections we find by giving each other the time and space to be heard.

Happy Mother’s Day? (or not)

It’s that time of year again, when arguments against Mother’s Day appear, at least against the way we celebrate the holiday in the United States. It’s too commercial, mothers aren’t any more special than other women, some people had bad mothers, some mothers don’t like their kids, some women want to be mothers and can’t, some miss their deceased mothers or were given up for adoption, etc. etc. etc. On days like this, I don’t think we’ll ever run out of things to complain about.

Ann Lamott wrote in Salon in 2010 that she raised her son NOT to celebrate Mother’s Day. She didn’t want him to feel obligated. This sounds to me like the worst kind of manipulation females have been accused of for centuries, probably because it was the only way we could exert any power over our lives. “Oh, no, don’t worry about me, I don’t want you to feel you have to buy me presents, take me to brunch, yada yada…” I love Anne Lamott’s writing but this time I have to disagree.

What’s missing here is communication. We don’t know how to talk to people. If you don’t like Mother’s Day, ignore it. Really, you can do that. If you like it, go ahead and enjoy it. I plan to. Mom is the best job title I ever had.

But if you don’t like brunch, or candy, or flowers, or your mom was mean to you, or your kids moved far away and don’t call, find a way to talk to someone. Or write. Without attacking or being defensive or justifying bad behavior. Don’t let anybody make you feel guilty. And don’t try to make others be who you want them to be. Just talk and listen.


Here’s a picture of my mom, Lucille Smitka Ciulik, and her mom, Marianne Rutkowska Smitka. The older I get, the more I understand them. And love them. And think of stuff to tell them.

Best way to celebrate Mother’s Day: Call your mom. If you can.

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