I've been meaning to write this for a long time now, ever since Mitch Albom started hyping this contest of Times My Mom Stood Up for Me. I just couldn't get over my anger long enough to put my thoughts into coherent words.
Okay, so it's coming close to Mothers' Day, that Hallmark holiday designed to pay homage to mothers everywhere. Some Gather Head decides that this nifty little contest will draw more participants into Gather. It's publicized on the internet and in places like MyPoints.com. People join Gather for the contest. I get that part.
However, I have a serious issue with this contest. (Many people who know me know that I have a serious issue with Mitch Albom, but he doesn't even begin to figure into my annoyance with this "contest.")
My first issue is this: what if you do not have a mother? Not everyone has a mother. Not everyone comes from a cookie cutter "ideal" family. Some people have two mothers. Some have two fathers. Some don't have mothers at all because of death, separation or neglect.
My second issue is, what if your mother never stood up for you? What do you write about then? Are you automatically eliminated because your mother wasn't June Cleaver?
My story is this: I had a mother for 36 of my 51 years. She did the best that she could, but she wasn't a "good" mother. She wasn't June Cleaver, or Carol Brady, or even Roseanne Conner. She was frustrated by children and her marriage. She had dreams. She also expected maturity and common sense out of her kids, and usually we complied.
She was the kind of person who didn't stand up for any of her kids; she fully expected all of us to stand up for ourselves. I can't remember a time growing up when she took my side in any argument. If we got into trouble at school, she expected us to pay the consequences with the authorities, and then there were more consequences at home. There was no "oh, my little girl couldn't have done that!"
She also didn't do my homework or class projects. We did. She didn't interfere with our teachers. She didn't coddle us with home cooked meals (she couldn't cook anyway) or fresh baked goods. She was out earning a living so we could stay home and make our own dinners.
Like I said, she wasn't perfect, but I don't fault her. In fact, I wish I had a chance to thank her before she passed away. Without her influence, I would not be the person I am today. I may not be as hard as she, but I also never did my kids' homework or projects. If they got into trouble at school, they were writing apology letters to the teacher that night. My mother had the right idea; I just temper it.
You don't need a "contest" to pay tribute to your mother. You also don't need a special day for it, either.