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ode to less terrible mother's day cards
(some of which are for non-moms)
If you are a human woman, especially a progressive human woman who knows whether a brown napkin is recycle or compost, you are supposed to prefer hand-made cards to store-bought ones. This is especially true of American Mother’s Day cards. Even its childless founder agreed. “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than a fancy greeting card,” Anna Jarvis reportedly fumed. I do love a good fume.
But as much I love her cantankerous take on the Target-ization of the holiday, I disagree with its premise. Not just with the casual universalization of maternal desire. But with the idea that when it comes to Mother’s Day cards, the worst scribble (which can appear as effortless, last-minute horseshit from child and adult alike) is categorically preferable to store-bought ink—especially given there are so many more expansive, less terrible options these days. Options like these:
For the New Birth Mom: a.k.a. Happy Center Your Own Body Day. Let’s be real. Not every birth is vaginal. But every birth is bodily. And there’s something counter-cultural about centering caregiver over caregetter for a day. “My favorite texts are the ones that ask, Where does it hurt?,” a new mom friend once explained, “and not, What’s the gender?”
For the Not-Your-Mom: a.k.a. Happy Grown Up Woman Day. I still wish there were cards explicitly celebrating the well-examined choice not to become a mom. (The smattering I found on Cafe Press were, well, very Cafe Press.) But this one from Childfree Elder, Liz Gilbert, does an exquisite job of celebrating grown women who aren’t shit-shirkers but shit-handlers. Take that selfish stereotype.
For the Bonus Mom: a.k.a. Happy Mother Makes a Better Verb Than Noun Day. Alexis Pauline Gumbs forever changed me with her assertion that mother is more often a noun that reproduces the status quo than a verb that subverts it. Give this card to your bestie, your auntie, your partner, hell, your neighborhood cat or anyone else who’s mothered you to functionality. Subvert our small idea of family.
For the Surly Mom: a.k.a. Happy Person Who is Also a Parent Day. Because being a person means admitting I have preferences. That there are some seasons where certain kids are harder to love than I hoped. That there are some times when I actively rearrange my body so I can sit next to my husband and not the teen who refuses to talk to me. That 97% of the time I prefer the dog more than anyone.
For the Someone-Other-Than-a-Mom: a.k.a. Happy It’s Okay to Mother Yourself Day. Chalk it up to my everyone-deserves-a-medal Millennialism, but my least favorite thing about Mother’s Day is that we overly celebrate women who love others rather than themselves. As if the two aren’t always and ever entwined. As if we’re not all weirdos worthy of $6 love notes any and every odd Sunday.
P.S. Still trying to figure out how to respond to others when you’re not a mother and you don’t want kids? Love this illustrated advice from Angela L. Harris, founder of #NoBibsBurpsBottles, an online community for Black women who are childfree.
P.P.S. I adore Claire Zulkey and her Evil Witches newsletter for “people who happen to be mothers.” This post on ten ways to avoid disappointment on Mother’s Day delighted and inspired me to no end with its practicality.
P.P.P.S. I have more Happy Someone Other Than a Mother’s Day postcards and stickers! Through Mother’s Day, they’re FREE with any book order from me (while supplies last)! In any case, thanks for supporting my work by reading to the end.
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