Word to Yo Mama

Mother’s Day is a “hallmark holiday,” created to sell cards and flowers and chocolate. It’s often an insult, where a year’s worth of carrying a family is halfheartedly acknowledged with a quick brunch spent looking at your phone, or a quick phone call spent looking at your computer. Less often, it’s an opportunity to show off wealth, where the balloons are taped to a new car that was due anyway, but delayed for the sake of an extra special Instagram post. A half-hour later, things go back to normal, and you get to pay attention to things you actually care about.

Families are a waste of perfectly good work hours and an obstacle to political unity, an encouragement to selfishness, where what’s “yours” is treated as if it’s somehow special. And mothers are only as special as families are, so if families aren’t special, neither are moms.

But then neither are you. If we measure the importance of things by their profitability or political expedience, then you’re worth only as much as you earn (not for yourself; for your boss), or how you vote (and it has to be for the right party or it doesn’t count). So you’re not special either, once the money runs out and the campaign is over.

The logic of all this is pretty easy to follow, and plenty of people live it: nobody is really worth anything, and caring about them is a waste of time. This would mean that yo mama is the most illogical person in the world for caring about you. And maybe she is.

The opposite might be true though. Maybe profit and politics aren’t the measure of things but only instruments – which would mean that bosses and politicians are best described as “tools.” Maybe there are things that are worth more than money, and maybe jobs and laws are only there for something other than themselves. The only candidate for that I can think of is family.

But families can be abusive and toxic. They can be places of destruction much more than places of life. Moms can be mean and neglectful. Some never wanted to be moms. Some resent their kids. Some hurt their kids.

I don’t know where or how to draw the line about relationships. Some are so poisonous that it’s really best to part ways. Some just need some forgiveness or some boundaries. Family relationships, because they’re naturally the most intimate, are also the most intense – and that means the most intensely loving or the most intensely hateful.

I don’t know if your mom is still alive, or if you still talk to her. Either way, think about saying thank you. Even if it’s just a hallmark holiday, it’s still an opportunity to do something different, and maybe you need that more than she does. Even if there’s a bad past between the two of you, maybe forgiveness will help heal your heart even if it doesn’t heal your relationship. There was at least a moment when you were the only thing in the world she cared about. The fact is, your life is special even if it’s a mess, which means your mom is special because she gave it to you, for better or worse. And if things are good, all the more reason to thank her.

So happy mother’s day.

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