Years ago, when my children were pre-teens and still assumably under my control, we had a chat while driving home from the beach on Mother's Day. I told them they didn't have to concern themselves with Mother's Day. It a day for older moms and grandmothers. My rationale: I didn't see Mother's Day as applying to me, someone who saw her children every day and was a vital part of their everyday existence. As I looked in the rear view mirror, there was a somewhat surprised look on their faces but not much of a concern. Our family had never gone in for big Mother's Day celebrations--gifts, special meals, flowers or cakes. It was a day to call grandmas; to remember to call my mother who lived far away and send her flowers.
I'm the older mother/grammie now. I live far from my grown children; ditto Paterfamilias as father and gramps. We no longer see our children regularly or talk to them every day. One lives in a city 400 miles due North; the other 400 miles Northeast--when she isn't taking a sabbatical year in Berlin (4,000 miles East). They live busy, busy lives--bringing up children, moving ahead in their careers, being attentive spouses. We are no longer a central part of their lives.
I thought about this yesterday on Father's Day. Both PF and I agree that the days--Mother's Day, Father's Day--are just another Hallmark moment, that the advertising and brouhaha surrounding the day are more a spur for retail growth than a meaningful holiday. And yet. And yet. Come the Day, we now wait for the call, the sweet chat, the expressed or implied note of appreciation that we are their mother or father, the acknowledgement that we are important enough to them to take a moment out of their hectic lives to connect via cell phone, Skype and email.
There's another emotional part to it. Our best friends died a few years ago--friends with whom we celebrated holidays and special occasions as a family. Now, when their children post a photo of one of their parents on Mother's or Father's Day, it reminds us of how difficult a day it must be for them, of how much we miss our friends and how lucky we--and our children--are to be around to acknowledge yet another Mother's or Father's day.
Mother and Father Days are not like a birthday where you kind of hope your grown children remember which one is yours--and maybe you send a reminder when the other parent's birthday is looming. Given the barrage of ads, it's hard for anyone not to notice That Special Day to Honor Your Parent. So while PF and I have to acknowledge that there are societal pressures that may move our children to give us a call on this particular day, it's still wonderfully comforting and emotionally rewarding when we hear from them--even if it takes an annual Hallmark moment to make sure it happens.