Friday, October 1, 2021

Days Like This

One random day in September is designated as National Daughters Day and that means a lot of pictures of smiling parents with their little Princesses. A few days later, for National Sons Day there are lots of handsome young men brightening my timeline. Then, right at midnight as the clock barely strikes 12, some of y'all started posting status updates of you sucking on lemons...

Why do y'all insist on ruining EVERYTHING?

After I saw a status update written by a fifth disgruntled person complaining that there was no day to celebrate her because she had no children, I sent out a tweet thread to express my frustration. Yes, that was hella passive aggressive because it didn't respond directly to her, and perhaps writing this piece will be seen in much the same way since I won't be personally posting it on anyone's personal page. But if you happen to read this and begin to wonder if this is about you, then yes, it is, and yes, I am judging you.

What ever happened to just letting people share their good news, putting on a fake smile, and then talking about them later? When did everybody become so sensitive? I know that social media allows everyone to share every single feeling and opinion, but damn, some of y'all aren't happy unless you post something to make everyone else miserable.

I noticed this a few years ago around Mother's Day. I have written about my own issues with that particular holiday, but mostly on my blogs. And I am pretty clear that my issues were never tied up in feeling any kind of way about not being a mother at the time. It was mostly about my own mother and the issues I had with her. I don't think (and I am open to being corrected if this isn't true) I ever saw this as a reason to make other women feel bad about celebrating their mothers or feeling special about being mothers themselves. In fact, I was big on celebrating every woman in my life who had some kind of mothering influence on me, and to this day, I try to send cards to every Aunt, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, and whomever to celebrate them.

I did all of that before I joined the Mommy club in 2015. Since then, I have softened in my feelings, but again, mostly towards my own mother. I don't have any grand expectations for how I should be celebrated except to take a picture with my daughter every year. Anyone who follows me knows that I am generally happy to take a picture with her for just about any reason at any point in the year, as long as I look decent enough to be in the shot. So there's that. 

However, one year I saw a post that listed all of the reasons why some people might not be as joyous as others, and I took note of the various categories of grief and loss listed that may be triggering. I empathized, and it made me pause to think about how in focusing on my own issues, I had never noticed that others might actually be suffering through a day that I merely had to endure. When Father's Day rolled around, I took note of the gripes, mainly from those who felt the absence of their fathers (or co-parents).

Thus, it was no surprise to note that Valentine's Day had become yet another holiday where scrolling through Facebook felt like a day of navigating an emotional minefield. Mind you, I don't care for that one either...but I dare not say that aloud and expect not to annoy someone who would point to the Hub and slow blink. Therefore, as social media created other holidays for pets, lefties, coffee drinkers, tacos, etc., I actually felt relieved that people could find other reasons to express their pride.

WRONG. Apparently, some people who don't have children, significant others, or parents they like also don't have pets, are right-handed, drink tea, and don't eat tacos. So for them, any day that is specially designated to honor others is another day to complain. If only I could only empathize with feeling that left out...

Social media is a carefully curated form of social interaction. Which means, on any given day, it is probably someone's birthday or anniversary. Someone might be celebrating a new job, starting a business, achieving their fitness goals, or just happy to be alive. Sadly, others might also be experiencing the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the end of a marriage, or barely making it through some horrific natural disaster. People choose to share all of these tragedies and triumphs, and most of their friends and acquaintances know how to express the appropriate sentiments.  

Therefore, for the life of me, I don't understand the need to be the cloud in other people's rainbow. Why is it necessary to point out that some people grew up without their father on Father's Day? We know that it isn't a day to celebrate deadbeats. Are you hoping to shame the guy who abandoned his family into finally reaching out to make amends, or is it intended to make everyone else whose father was present in their lives feel bad? You want an entire day to celebrate your awesome wonderfulness? It is called your birthday, or you can pick a day to dress up and toss confetti on your Instagram profile just to see who comments. I bet at least 20 folks will hit the 👍 or 💓 just because.

I get that some of these holidays aren't inclusive, but in an age when everyone gets participation trophies just for showing up, I don't see why you can't find a way to barge in with your own folding chair, if that's what you want. Someone suggested that a day designated for sons and daughters wasn't considerate of non-binary offspring and guess what, I won't question it if you decide to tack on a disclaimer so that your kids don't feel slighted. If there are missing letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym that don't describe you on National Coming Out Day, just tell us how to acknowledge your truth. When someone schedules an event that conflicts with your religious observances, trust that it is not because they don't care, it is because they probably didn't know any better. And if there really is a holiday or celebration that is inapplicable to you, then just scroll by. It takes more energy to get offended by something that has nothing to do with you.

I joined in on the National Daughters Day posting a day or two after the fact and even joked that I thought it was all rather silly. But then it occurred to me that after 18 months of being shut in, disconnected, and stuck in a cycle of endless angst and grief, seeing all of those smiling children on my timeline was a good thing. I don't have a son, but that didn't stop me from liking those #BoyJoy pics a few days later. I don't have a lot of what some of y'all have, but life is too short to wallow in my feelings about not being able to join the fun of Boss's Day on October 16 (unless I can celebrate not having one). Given the state of the world these days, having anything to celebrate is worthy of acknowledgment. 

So back to Mother's Day, which is fraught with all kinds of complicated feelings. Does it have to be that way? Can you find some happiness for the new mother, some compassion for the mother who has lost a child, or the imperfect mothers who did the best that they knew how? If you aren't a mother, can you celebrate someone else who is, just because? My attitude on Mother's Day changed after my Mom's diagnosis, then it changed after I had my own child and I began to appreciate what she managed to accomplish with three of us. Then it really changed as I had more friends who lost their mothers. Instead of complaining, can you find the space in your heart to reassure that single mother that she can make it or to comfort someone who is grieving their mother that they were loved? 

If you still feel left out, you can borrow my kid on National Aunts and Uncles Day (July 26) while I enjoy my bagel with a coffee milkshake in peace. 

Ten years ago, in this very space, I heralded the joys of being an anti-parent. Also ten years ago, not long after I wrote that piece, I learned that my Mom had Alzheimer's. I am sharing that not to elicit your sympathy, but to highlight how life unfolds in the most unexpected of ways. There is beauty, there is pain, and as we know from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, a time and a season for everything under Heaven. 

Celebrate yourself! Go on an exotic vacation, have brunch and happy hour get-togethers with friends. Share the good news of your job promotions, your new home purchase, your newly published book,  your new exercise obsession, and whatever else you have going on. If you don't have anything fantastic going on in your life, who cares? It is social media--make up something and keep it moving. The thing is, you don't need a designated day to feel special because you ARE special!

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