Monday, May 15, 2006

Ode (sort of) to Mother's Day





Byzantine Blue Tree, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20





I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day. I actually like the concept, honoring and spending time with a parent who raised you, but as with anything remotely resembling a holiday in this country, it has turned into a day, really several weeks, of sentimental drivel. Sappy, emotional commercials, advertisements and constant reminders to buy your mother a gift or even just a card, one of the 152 millions cards given to mothers on this day.

Here is an interesting history of Mother's Day, starting with its origins in the United States. It begins with this:

"Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons."

This seems especially timely right now and it just seems so trivial to go shopping.

On a more personal level, for me, Mother's Day is just a day where I feel even more guilty for not being a better mother. I feel bad for being happy when my kids go to school and are out of the house, for when I tell them to leave me be, for when I yell at them because I am tired and crabby. For when I do or say something that disappoints them or even wounds them. I feel guilty enough about all this (and more) every other day of the year, it's just worse when I am supposedly being honored.

And despite all of that, I have to admit, that I love how happy my kids are about making me a special breakfast, picking flowers for me, helping around the house and giving me a gift that they have spent days making (I have drawn the line with the gifts, if they must give me a gift it has to be handmade). My husband asked me last week if I wanted to do anything special on Mother's Day and I said that all I want is for all of us to have a normal Sunday, puttering around the house and catching up on things. Oh, yeah, and I'd like to have just one day where I don't have to cook or clean up after.

So that was my gift, along with a lovely hat made from paper plates and decorated with fake flowers made by my youngest daughter, and we all enjoyed our day.

11 comments:

Omega said...

I'm curious to know why the tree is Byzantine - or is it the blue that is Byzantine?

Tracy said...

Hi Omega, The name of the blue of the tree is what the byzantine refers to, which is more visible as a deep blue in person. When I get stuck for titles I often use the commercial name of a color in the painting. Is there a such thing as a byzantine tree?

Shan said...

Hi Tracy,

I agree with you about the Hallmarkification (can't think of a better way to describe it) of Mother's Day but I really like that there's a day to honor mothers.

Thanks for the history of M.D. Don't feel the guilt. I strongly feel that we are raising kids in a strange culture of obsessive parenting and media-induced anxiety.

If there was one gift I wish I could give mothers (myself included)it's a dismissal of the guilt. We are, after all, only human. Plus, do we really want to set an example of perfection for our daughters to have to live up to?

I never would have imagined I'd be asked many times over if I was considering home-schooling (a hugely growing trend, as you prob. know) and would feel guilty as I think, "No way. I've been looking forward to that studio time for years."

I think creative people really need mental and physical space. This was, for me, a big conflict when I became a mother. I can relate to your relief when the school bus comes and yet I still love my kids like crazy.

Tracy said...

Hi Shan, Hallmarkification. I like that. Thanks for your kind words about my guilt. I pretty much feel guilty about everything at some point or another. I have come to peace with it over the years and it is actually a great motivator to better my actions (most of the time anyway). I considered home schooling, which I love by the way, but decided against it when I had my second baby and knew I would need some of my time back at some point.

Martha said...

For my mother's day, I asked for a day to myself. J ferried the kids off all morning and part of the afternoon, and I can't tell you what bliss it was. I get overwhelmed by what is required of me as a mother sometimes, and it's not so great, because when I'm overwhelmed, my tendency is to retreat. I need alone time! But I love my children, and I do feel guilty that I might not be giving them what they need. And Tracy, I like the tree. I would love to see some of these in person.

Omega said...

Well, I guess, if over-convoluted bureaucracy can be described as Byzantine, then a tree rather like our hawthorns whose branches have so grown through and round each other that it is a dense mass ... and perhaps Byzantine -?

Tracy said...

Hi Martha, A day off -sounds like a heavenly mothers day too! We did that a few times when the kids were younger also.

Omega, I like your way of thinking! Maybe I should rename that piece.......

Ed Maskevich said...

There is an old story of a patient talking with his or her therapist. The patient said, "When I was young, my mother made me feel guilty, when I got older the church made me feel guilty, now that I am grown up, I can feel guilty all by myself."

Tracy said...

Ed, Hmmmmm, I can't blame my mom for that particular trait, and I don't do the church thing, so that leaves just me, I'm afraid. Great.

Rebecca Grantham said...

Hi Tracy,
I love your honesty!

Ditto all of what you said for me,
My kids don't understand when I pray to be a better mother. :)

You're an artist too, so maybe the drive to be abetter as a mother is the same as wanting to be a better as an artist too.
I just wanted to have a quiet Sunday at the shock of so many people with their mouths open, and saying you're not doing anything for Mother's Day, you have five kids!...
no I just wanted some quiet for a day.

Sometimes I feel like the odd one out because we don't run all over and overstuff our schedules.

Simple is better!
They're only little once.
Cheers
Rebecca
ps I love your joyous beautiful artwork!

Tracy said...

Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for your kind comments! I hope you did have your quiet Mother's Day. I make an effort to not overload the kid's schedule too. Although, that's getting pretty challenging as they get older and want to try everything!