I’ve seen where many people wish Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary or post other heartfelt greetings to their deceased loved ones on social media; and if that works for them, that’s fine. But I can’t help but wonder – why?
When my mother’s birthday arrives in three weeks, I won’t wish her Happy Birthday on Facebook nor will I post it in any other public place. Because if the Bible is to be believed – that the dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5) – then mother won’t know that I wish her a Happy Birthday anyway. And as much as she expressed her disdain for social media when she was alive – by the off-chance that there is Facebook in the hereafter, she surely would have nothing to do with it.
My mother’s chosen religion forbids their members from acknowledging birthdays and other so-called pagan holidays; so when she was alive wishing her happiness on such an occasion often led to a repetitive interchange between us.
Mother would say, “You know I don’t celebrate (whatever the holiday in question).” And I would protest, “But I do.” The conversation usually ended there, until the next time. Yet, to my pleasure, she never refused to accept the cards or gifts that I gave her on those days. And she always (perhaps begrudgingly, although she didn’t show it) acknowledged the gesture with a polite, “Thank you.”
I regretted the fact that mother would not allow me to take her out to dinner, to a stage play, or someplace special on her birthday, but it bothered me more on Mother’s Day. Even before I became a mother, I relished Mother’s Day and considered the day to be a special occasion for honoring and showing reverence to all mothers and especially good mothers like mine.
Since my siblings and I were adults when mother decided to convert her faith, I have wonderful memories to cherish of earlier times of family get-togethers at my parent’s home on holidays like the Fourth of July (Can you say crab fest?), Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And for a few years, even after my siblings and I married and had families of our own, we’d all bring our kids to the grandparents home on festive occasions. Unfortunately, those happy get-togethers dwindled and eventually stopped; too soon.
In three weeks when mother’s birthday arrives, I won’t publicize it on social media. I will acknowledge it privately. And before the day is over, I know I will smile with tear-filled eyes as I remember a recurring dialog that she and I shared many times in the years before she died.
“You know I don’t celebrate birthdays.”
“But I do.”
I’ve always liked Mother’s Day. Next to Christmas, it’s my favorite widely celebrated day.
When I was a child, in elementary school we kids made Mother’s Day cards and sometimes simple little gifts, like plasters of our hand for our moms. When I grew older and began purchasing cards, I’d spend significant time at the card display in the store trying to choose just the right card, the perfect card, for my mom. Mom always expressed glee and appreciation for the cards, flowers, and gifts I gave her each year.
Fast forward a few decades and my middle-aged mom, daughter of a Southern Baptist minister, joined a religious group that refuses to acknowledge what they call pagan holidays, including Mother’s Day. Regardless, I continued to purchase cards and gifts for my mother. Sometimes I offered to take her out to a Mother’s Day lunch or brunch, but she refused, saying “You know that we don’t observe Mother’s Day.”
My polite response to her was always, “But, mother, I DO observe it. And I only have one mother.”
My unspoken but resolute thought was, and as long as I have a mother, I will continue to observe Mother’s Day. I was determined that no (what I perceive to be cult-like) religion was going to interfere with my relationship with my mom.
The irony is that although mother frequently reminded me of her allegiance to her adopted faith, she never refused to accept the cards or flowers I sent. Perhaps purposely showing me her reluctance, she didn’t gush over the gifts the way she had done in the early years, but nevertheless, she accepted them — offering no fuss, no gush, just a simple “Thank you, Lo.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. Perhaps at some point we had reached an unexpressed compromise.
I continued sending my mother Mother’s Day cards until 2014, the year she died.
I won’t expound here on the resentment I feel for a purported religious group that instead of strengthening family ties dictates silly doctrines to rip them apart. My close friends and family members know exactly how I feel about that, so I won’t harp on it here.
Now, it’s Mother’s Day again, and my heart aches for my mom. In spite of our disagreements on so many things – and our resolute similarities, like stubbornness – we loved each other. And I miss her. Happy Mother’s Day, mom.
If you are in a relationship with — or married to — a man who you love because he respects you, provides for you, and treats you like his queen – thank his mother. While no rule of behavior is set in stone, there is much truth to the adage that the way a man treats his mother reflects on how he will treat you.
We’ve all overheard conversations among women where the subject is mother-bashing — not their own mother, but his. Some women feel that they have exclusive rights to the man in their life, whether he is their husband or longtime boyfriend, and they view his mother as the “other woman.” Perhaps it never occurs to those anxious women that