“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.” – Jessica Lange
A piece from salon.com is making the rounds again. In her 2010 article, Why I Hate Mother’s Day, Ann Lamott bemoans the yearly tribute to mothers as a “huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.” She whines about the unfairness of the day to “all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children.” Justifying her stance with her own “I’m a mom” card, Lamott says she became who she is “in spite of” her own Mom.
That much is clear, lady.
She ends her article with a plea. “I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all.”
The thing is, Mother’s Day isn’t “available to all.” Is that unfair? Probably about as unfair as me not being able to celebrate Secretary’s Day or Father’s Day or Yom Kippur.
Ms. Lamott remarks that it was the “extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men” that shaped her.
Melissa Harris-Perry and Hillary Clinton would be proud.
I’ll grant Lamott the idea that many people go into shaping who we are. My 12th grade English teacher instilled in me a passion for writing. An old friend’s mom was the finest example of selfless love I’ve ever known, completely devoted to her children. And she made the best mac & cheese in history. My cheerleading coach taught me many lessons about hard work and achievement. Heck, even the orthopedic surgeon that red-tagged my knee for demolition gave me the gift of never being able to run again for the rest of my life!
Of all the people large and small that had some influence on me, none are my mom. Being adopted made no difference. My mom used to say, “You weren’t born under my heart but in it.” I daresay my old cheerleading coach doesn’t feel that way about me!