Mother’s Day Musings (from one who has sons)

Mother and son

Mother’s Day is looming, and while many mums look forward to their special Sunday, I wish it would just disappear off the face of the calendar. What’s more, I’m not the only mother to feel this way. The problem isn’t that we Mother’s Day dreaders aren’t loved by our kids; it’s simply that we have adult sons, and not adult daughters.

Mother’s Day in our family was always a strictly non-commercial affair. From the time our boys were little, we made a point of telling them that Mother’s Day was all about showing appreciation for Mum with sweet gestures, kind acts, and homemade cards, and not a time to be raiding the piggy bank and heading to the mall to satisfy the demands of commercialism. As the boys grew older, I often heard my husband telling them that Mother’s Day was actually an extension of something they should be doing for Mum every day! And, without exaggerating, that’s largely how our household functioned.

Even through the tricky teenage years, I was blessed with sons who brought in the firewood without being asked, caused little if any problems at school, and who always had a hug for me before they went to bed. When they left home for their tertiary studies, not a week went by that I didn’t hear from them (and it wasn’t always to ask for a loan!). They’d happily chew the fat on the phone for half an hour, amusing me with their various shenanigans, and sometimes even asking for advice over girlfriend problems. But Mother’s Day simply disappeared off their radar, especially after I told my husband it wasn’t his job to remind them. I also told him I didn’t mind in the least if the boys forgot Mother’s Day – but in fact, that’s not quite true – and it has nothing to do with feeling unloved or unappreciated. It’s all about others’ expectations.

Mother and son

I’ve come to dread the delighted texts from friends with grown-up daughters who’ve phoned them on Mother’s Day or sent chocolates. I don’t want to look at the Facebook postings of my sisters sitting with their girls in cafes with bouquets of flowers on the table beside them. I feel pitied at church when the Mother’s Day sermon inevitably reminds us our kids still love us even though we haven’t heard from them. The fact is I know my sons love me – it’s just that they happen to be boys – and boys forget celebratory occasions more than girls.

Why this happens is a subject for speculation but the psychology behind the forgetfulness suggests that because girls tend to be more sensitive than boys, and would themselves feel overlooked and hurt if a significant date of theirs was forgotten, they are on the ball where remembering others is concerned. Boys, however, are more likely not to be concerned if their own special day is forgotten – even by family. For that reason, they don’t pay particular attention to remembering others’ significant dates.

So, now you know the science behind this delicate state of affairs, please, don’t pity mums like me who have sons only. And please, please don’t ask us if we’ve heard from our boys on Mothers’ Day – at least not until they have a partner or children of their own to remind them the special day is looming. Just believe us when we say we know our boys love us dearly, even though we’re unlikely to hear from them on the one day of the year the world has decided they absolutely must not forget us.