Sunday, May 13, 2012

An UnMothers Day Story Starring Various Turkeys.

Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother's Day

Based on the comments I received on yesterday's post, and the fact that somebody out there in internetland found it by googling "fuck mother's day infertility," it seems I'm not alone in feeling sad and inadequate on this day that celebrates the very thing that I want so desperately but am consistently denied.

Once, during my Carrie Bradshaw years, a guy broke up with me on Thanksgiving.  We had plans to eat dinner with his friends at 4:00 and were going to drive to Florida to meet my parents the next day. Around noon we argued about something - you'd think I'd remember what it was considering it was the first fight we'd ever had but it really was that insignificant an issue.  I think it had something to do with flip-flops. His disproportionate anger stunned me.  The argument went from a minor flare-up to a raging forest fire in a frighteningly short time and by 2:00 he was packing up his computer and hair products and bungee-ing his mountain bike to the roof of his Corolla, making it clear he intended to never have anything more to do with me ever.  Bear with me, I have a point here.

It was THANKSGIVING.  A day to spend with friends and family.  And I was alone.  It was 3:00 in the afternoon and everyone had plans, they were already bellied up to a bird or just about to be. My friends were all at relatives' homes, and this was before cell phones (yeah, I'm old) so I had no way to get in touch with them.  My own family was 7 hours away and my car couldn't be trusted to make the trip (we had planned to take Angry Guy's Corolla).

I ended up walking down to the beach, which is what I always do when I don't know what to do with myself.  On the beach, the familiar briny smell mingled with the scent of roasted bird wafting from nearly every house along the shore.

Children dressed in holiday best tumbled out of these houses and ran laughing towards the surf, loving Thanksgiving at Aunt Sophie's house.  And I felt acutely aware of my aloneness.  I was an outsider, observing a holiday in which I was not included.  It did not pertain to me.

And that's how I feel today.  (See, I told you there was a point.)  This stupid holiday is going on all around me and it has NOTHING to do with me.  (yes, ok, I do have my own mother to honor and I promise I'm going to call her just as soon as I finish venting here.)

I find it FASCINATING that the woman who invented Mother's Day and fought to make it a national holiday, Anna Jarvis, came to resent the holiday and spent her final days campaigning to have it abolished.  She claimed to hate the commercialism of it all and I get that.  (She should see it now.)  But also, she never married and had no children. She started a holiday to honor mothers and then never got to become one. I'm just saying.

Anyway, in honor of Mother's Day and Anna Jarvis, I leave you with this anecdote:

Years after she founded Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis was dining at the Tea Room at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia. She saw they were offering a “Mother’s Day Salad.” She ordered the salad and when it was served, she stood up, dumped it on the floor, left the money to pay for it, and walked out in a huff. Jarvis had lost control of the holiday she helped create, and she was crushed by her belief that commercialism was destroying Mother’s Day

Also: I'm not completely bitter and heartless.  To all of my friends who have been blessed with children, a very happy Mother's Day.  And I hope you know how lucky you are.


  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting footnote in the history of the dreaded hallmark holiday of Mother's Day.

    1. Thanks! I want to start a new Mother's Day tradition of throwing salad on the floor and complaining about commercialized holidays. I think Anna Jarvis would approve!