Anne Lamott is a Better Mother Than Me

Yes, yes. Than I. WhatEVER.

Yesterday, I read to my son excerpts from an Anne Lamott post on Mother’s Day: “I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. I didn’t want him to feel some obligation to buy me pricey lunches or flowers, some annual display of gratitude that you have to grit your teeth and endure. Perhaps Mother’s Day will come to mean something to me as I grow even dottier in my dotage, and I will find myself bitter and distressed when Sam dutifully ignores the holiday.” I shared with my son how I really didn’t want him to ever feel guilt-ed into a Mother’s Day either. (I remember one year when I had nothing for my mother and she didn’t let me off the hook. I felt so awful and went to 7-11 and bought her some book. It wasn’t born from within me. Just guilt and obligation).

The first painful irony was that literally, as I was reading this to him, he and my husband were suddenly handing me a gift which utterly befuddled  me as I’d arranged for us to have Mother’s Day with our mothers this evening, so I could have some semblance of a Mother’s Day this year to myself, on the actual day, tomorrow.

I didn’t want a gift today. Now,  I was all weird-ed out and confused because I was in the middle of reading this great Anne Lamott piece and talking about why he didn’t have to give me a gift for this stupid Hallmark generated day and I was upset they were giving it to me on the wrong day.

“Can’t I open it tomorrow?”


It was a good gift. Dagnabbit. Now, I really wanted it tomorrow. Suddenly I wanted the whole day tomorrow now. Breakfast, flowers, the special cards.

Obvious self-reflection moment: if I went to the trouble of having the mothers have Mother’s Day the evening before, maybe I actually cared about that stupid holiday after all? Oh, good God. Who am I?

The next morning there were no chocolate croissants in bed. There were no flowers gathered from the farmer’s market. No handmade cards. Just two guys wondering what I wanted to do for breakfast cause it’s my day. I sent them out for chocolate croissants. My son declared himself too tired to do anything after they took the dog for a walk to tire the dog out so we could go to do something fun.

I went on the exercise bike. I took a shower. There was no gas because the gardner tripped the switch when he ran out of sod yesterday and left empty patches like a middle-aged man’s head in my yard. I took a cold shower, and then I yelled at everyone that this was the worst Mother’s Day ever. I emailed the gardner it was the worst Mother’s Day ever.

That night when I was snuggling with my son I said, mostly friendly and playful like,

“Thanks for all the chocolates and flowers.”

“I’m confused. You read me that article.” Was it an excuse or did he really mean it? Had I empowered him to be free of guilt or to be a colossal asshole?

“You’re right, I said. I really did like the gift you and Daddy gave me.

“Yay!” he said. And I immediately felt awful.

“…And I really do think the holiday is dumb and don’t want you to feel obliged. I know I’m giving you a mixed message.”

Fricking mess. What  a mess. I’m a Mother Mess. I tidied the house.

I try again the next morning in the car on the way to school to explain it to eleven-year-old him. But I can’t. The truth is that I do think it’s a dumb holiday. And I don’t want him to feel obliged or guilt-ed into it. But I wanted those Dodo birds to want to make me feel special when I told them they didn’t have to.

This is just so embarrassing.


My friend Claudia’s Facebook post. I’m just saying.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.