Oh Facebook, the 21st Century bastion/pissing contest of motherhood. I feel a little bit spiteful today because of that. I don’t blame the programmers or anyone actually in the company. I blame the environment that Facebook has created by wandering a road paved with (mostly) good intentions. It’s an environment where videos like American Greetings’ Mother’s Day ad can go viral and along the way make moms tantamount over dads. This is one aspect of parenting culture in the US that I absolutely cannot stand and it makes me cranky on Mother’s Day. It really does. That reminds me. George Takei shared that video I referenced (and won’t share because it doesn’t deserve any more attention), and I kind of snapped. This is what I ended up posting in my Facebook status today both as a response to the discussion resulting from that video and as a way to express my feelings about Mother’s Day on Facebook in general.
Remember that patronizing Mother’s Day video American Greetings made a few weeks ago? Well, George Takei shared it on his timeline, and someone pointed out how it seemed to discount the role of fathers. Some people took umbrage at that notion, and so I decided to jump in with this.
“I think what a lot of the naysayers are overlooking is that while there is Father’s Day, fathers are not as revered in at least American society as mothers are and don’t get loaded viral videos touting their role. This might change especially since more companies are including paternity leave (e.g. Major League Baseball), but I don’t see the paradigm changing anytime soon. Myself while I am grateful for some of the things my mom did for me, I consider my father to be more influential in my development and am more likely to post a message on Father’s Day partly to give fathers in general the props they deserve (although it can’t be too sappy if it involves a bad joke). On a larger note, there are more women in advertising than ever these days. Have we ever wondered how many women are complicit in spreading this type of message and why they might be doing so? My mom did encourage me to contemplate psychological/sociological issues that form the information we receive. Thus, I’m going to honor my mother not by sharing this video but by questioning it.”
So Mom, I hope you don’t mind this message. I’m of the opinion that we honor our parents (mothers AND fathers) not through gifts and sappy messages but by living the lessons they taught us to make us productive members of society. I’ll continue to question viral news stories, do my research, and avoid radicalism on Mother’s Day and every day.
I could have been more blunt, but I decided to rein it in today. The thing is, while my mom may love me, my perception of our relationship has been pretty poor half my life. The only reason I’m able to see any good in her is because I moved halfway across the country. Anyway, because of that, I feel like a fake for saying “Happy Mother’s Day” and posting a sappy message. This is the closest I can come to saying those three words to my mom. In response, my aunt says, “Well, after this screed, you COULD say Happy Mother’s Day to your mother.” I have not responded to that because I know it will end uphappily. Besides, my mom knows right now that saying positive things is really rough on me at the moment thanks to an extended period of unemployment. We actually chatted on Facebook last night about my situation, and her reaction was more sympathetic than I expected. I was expecting her to rail on me for not putting enough effort into finding a job despite having sent out nearly 50 applications (no kidding; I have the confirmation emails to back me up on this.). She did that to me when I was in my late teens and still in school, so I have that bit of trauma to contend with at the moment. Thus, saying those three words is much harder for me to do than to talk about what good my mom has done for me. One could make the argument that trying to repair my perception of my mother is a way of saying Happy Mother’s Day. Who knows? The point is I meant absolutely everything I said in that post, and I think it’s better than saying Happy Mother’s Day because it shows that I actually learned something from my parents. We all express things differently, and for those of us who have trouble expressing positive emotions, we have to start from our minds before anything genuine can come from our hearts. As long as my parents can understand that, we’re good.