by Judy Gruen
Mother’s Day will soon enjoy its annual splash of media attention – attention that is surely coveted by creators of many lesser-known holidays in May, such as International Tuba Day (May 1), International Migratory Bird Day (the second Saturday in May), and No Dirty Dishes Day (May 18), a commemoration, which, if taken seriously, could pose a formidable threat to future observances of Mother’s Day.
As a mother of four, I welcome the implied extortion of Mother’s Day, and feel justified in cashing in, especially since I gave birth to my kids in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when millions of women, including me, were suckered into that barbaric scam known as “natural childbirth.” Birkenstock-shod Earth-mother types convinced us to be “in the moment” with our pain during labor, a concept that I’ve yet to hear applied to any other situation where physical agony is certain without heavy duty meds. Can you imagine telling someone enduring a root canal or hip replacement surgery to just be “in the moment” with their pain? Exactly.
Based on my experiences, medication-free labor would make waterboarding seem like a frolic through the lawn sprinklers. (Where was Amnesty International when I needed them?) An annual Mother’s Day gift is a laughably small payback for all that needless affliction, and that’s before even amortizing the value of two decades of carpooling, cooking, karate practice, and becoming an indentured servant to the orthodontist for four sets of wildly uneven teeth.
But because we live in an eco-obsessed society, I face long odds on scoring any gift that will excite the old gift-receptor gland. Today, if it’s not sustainable, recycled, fair-trade, organic, or pulled from a compost pile, your family may not be able to find it. Mother’s Day classics have gotten extreme green makeovers: luxurious, plush bathrobes are now organic hoodies from Patagonia; chocolates must have a fair-trade label, flowers must come from a local, organic garden, and diamonds – assuming you can still afford them – must be “conflict-free.” (Note to family: I’ve never been conflicted about receiving diamonds and I’m not about to start now.)
This year, the eco-conscious shopper must carefully balance love for Mom against the paranoia about saving Mother Earth. I suspect that on May 9, a lot of moms will be surprised when they open their recycled gift boxes and discover “sustainable” jewelry made from other people’s cast-off glass, bracelets made from recycled magazines; lead-free, cruelty-free lipsticks; post-consumer, tree-free paper journals made from banana byproducts; canvas totes with solar panels, (as if we don’t have enough to schlep around already), and for the very forward-thinking gift-giver, a worm bin to encourage Mom’s compost pile in the yard to keep on ‘truckin. A word to the wise to anyone still shopping for Mom: Let’s just say that I would not want to be on the receiving end of a dinner made by a woman who was gifted with a worm bin on Mother’s Day.
And because Mom probably has too much stuff anyway, I’ve also seen suggestions to make a contribution in her name to the local diaper drive or “volunteering her” for a few hours of work at the local Code Pink headquarters. In contrast, I suppose I’ll have to consider myself lucky if only score a carbon offset or renewable energy credit.
I really like Mother Earth and I am trying to be a good steward of it during my visit here. But I bet that even tree-hugging moms would prefer a Crayola portrait to a kitchen composter. Fine jewelry will “sustain” most women for years to come, and seems a fair trade for all the years they’ve devoted to motherhood. In lean times, I can be happy with a heartfelt card, which I promise never to recycle. However, in case my family is reading this and plans to spring for a material gift anyway, remember: I already have a Dustbuster.
Judy Gruen is thinking “bling” for this upcoming Mother’s Day. Read more of her work on JudyGruen.com, and buy her latest award-winning book, The Women’s Daily Irony Supplement, because laughter is good for the environment.