Driving north on Atlantic Boulevard in East Los Angeles this morning at 11:30 was an agonizing adventure. Mind you, driving on that street any Sunday is typically trying…the crosswalks brim with sluggish pedestrians unmindful of red lights, gazillions of driveways beckon drivers at the last minute making you brake suddenly to avoid rear ending them, and there is an overall Sunday lackadaisical meandering driver vibe. If you need to get somewhere quickly, good luck.
Add to the usual snail’s pace of this traffic flow the fact that it was a hectic Mother’s Day morning, and you’re looking at a cascading parade of obstructions and barriers which conveniently spring to action in any way possible with the ostensible purpose of delaying your progress. Why is it every “holiday” seems to leave people in a state of confusion and bewilderment? Atlantic Boulevard was dotted with makeshift flower “shops” on most corners selling the obligatory Mother’s Day last minute potpourri of all things mother might love. There was one corner, I think it was in front of the closed Midas shop, that the outdoor temporary gift shop actually sold purses and clothes on a rack (in addition to flowers and balloons, of course). Really nasty-looking second-hand stuff that looked like it had been carted directly from the swap meet. Whatever, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
Mother’s Day is a big deal.
It is certainly a bid deal for the restaurants of the land. Mother’s Day is The day for restaurants. It’s the one business day that allows them to reverse 4 months of so-so business with a single burst of ceaseless waves of diners paying tribute the mother in their lives. Families in tow, children buzzing around playfully, it’s a lot of ado.
Funny, I don’t think about Mother’s Day much during the previous two-week lead up. When the alloted Sunday rolls around, I go through the normal mindless routine, the last-minute shopping, the pained strategic focused gift-shopping which involves choosing just the right item, the one suiting a Mother’s Day gift. An iron doesn’t cut it…a food processor, nope, doesn’t cut it either. Mother’s Day is the day of symbolic and useles bullshit gifts, the girlie stuff that no man in the world can comprehend. Gloves for the feet and toes, scarves, just a cornucopia of useless and self-pampering crap that affects a woman’s heart because it really places the value of utility far below the value of cheesy thoughtfulness. All Mother’s Days are like this. I don’t reject the day, but neither do I embrace it. I’ve never understood why it needs its own “day.” Shouldn’t the entire year mark an endless, daily tribute to the mothers in our life?
Anyways, this year I read assorted blog posts dealing with the forthcoming Mother’s Day.
I find the congruence of Mother’s Day within the realm of the MRA/PUA blogosectors quite fascinating and a bit curious.
Also, earlier this week, I received an email from a friend telling me that one of our mutual friends from days of yore lost his mother about 3 weeks ago. Three weeks before Mother’s Day.
In one of my solemn and introspective moods, I began thinking about Mother’s Day and the larger cultural dynamic which it symbolizes.
Mothers. In a healthy family, this is the one person, the one woman, who always has your back. How many times do we hear the axiomatic story of a mother who laments what a fine child her son is even though he is presently in jail awaiting arraignment on 6 counts of murder? A mother’s love is unqualified and flaunts its selflessness in the face of reason and good sense. When I contemplate the world and reality of motherhood which I view in such instances, I cannot separate it or distance it from the context of a group that includes my own mother. No matter how I try. The woman who defends her evil son is my mom, is your mom, is our mom.
And it follows that each time I am tempted to make a bitter or rash comment about females, a coldly designed observation about the curse of womankind, I find I must hesitate, for my mother is one of them. She is one of those people who belongs to the other half of the human species, the half which so many of the MRA devotees delight in condemning to subhuman status. I can never honestly and sincerely (or guiltlessly) damn the female species in one fell swoop. I have no problem damning specific women I’ve known who easily embody the trashy and self-obsessed feminine criteria which many of the MRA decry. Judging by the cold-hearted nature of misogyny I witness, I can only deduce that many of these guys are either soulless psychopaths who lack any connection with their mother figure or that they never experienced a normal relationship with their mother to begin with. I cannot believe a man who is close to his mother, a man who loves and respects his mother, is capable of misogyny if he’s completely sincere with himself. Complete hatred and distrust of women is only possible if a man’s relationship with his mother is non-existent or extremely diseased.
So yeah, I’m fine with Mother’s Day.
Of course it’s just another lame commercial manifestation of our money-hungry marketing culture, but I can live with that for a week or so out of the year. Consider it your opportunity to make right those other 364 days you are preoccupied with your life and mired in the midst of a passive laziness with allows you to take your entire life for granted; it’s a day you can finally be reminded to channel all the repressed and forgotten gratitude that you meant to express in the past year into one action-packed day of gifts, food and flowers.
As a father, I suppose it would be nice to be on the receiving end of that gratitude. But Father’s Day sorta lacks the same punch, doesn’t it? I hear a lot of fathers say their idea of the perfect Father’s Day would be the ability to go play golf or work alone and unencumbered in the garage for a few hours. These are usually the married fathers of multiple children and they merely seek the earnest escape from fatherly duties for just a short while.
Father’s Day, in this age of browbeaten and emotionally castrated men, of floundering fathers, is vitally important. We are at a historical moment when the father needs to be honored for the important and unique role he plays in the familial parenting design. The modern father has been neglected and discarded, he’s become an afterthought, a sitcom joke, an affront to the strong male and father figure which our children need. Shouldn’t fatherhood be celebrated and lauded?
Fatherhood has become a running joke, a self-referential comic escape in which fathers, rather than receiving well-deserved acclaim, seek only escape.
If you are a single father who is currently doing his best to raise a son part-time, you are abandoned. There is no flowery or honorable commemoration for your sorry ass. You are left to fend for yourself and develop your own fatherly schema to raise your son whilst also left simultaneously to impart masculine values in order to counteract and offset the influence of that other part of his life which usually involves a strong dose of feminine, “girlfriend-driven” values which the mother surely rakes him over. Us men do not generally talk about or share this child-raising stuff. You do the best you can and hope what you have molded doesn’t blow up in your face because that kind of damage is deep and persistent. It is expensive and agonizing to undo, if in fact in can be undone. And by the time it manifests itself, years have passed and you’re probably not going to be very well-equipped to handle the mess when it comes back to bite you in the ass.
I personally think we should do away with the Mother’s Day/Father’s Day matrix. It’s time to discontinue that shit like a rattly badly-made car. Close that assembly line and replace it with Parent’s Day. Let’s recognize the hard work and involvement all good parenting requires.
Matriarchy and patriarchy are equally important parts of a fundamental working system of family structure. Both should balance and complement each other based on the relevant gender qualities with a sharp delineation made between the two. Only then will a mentally healthy generation of children be possible. Which will in turn lead to ensuing healthy generations. Instead we are in the midst of a domino rush of faltering and unnatural parade of imbalanced offspring.
The Mexican culture from which I spring strikes me as strongly matriarchal. It’s that Catholic Virgin Mary thing. The Mexican family is strongly structured and guided to revolve around the dominant female mother figure who reigns over the household. This, despite the archetypal machismo that the Mexican man apparently possesses. Or makes a display of. It is a facade, it is the prize the Mexican matriarch has attained by default due to the absence of the the Mexican patriarch who typically recluses himself from the intricate workings of the family dynamic. The Mexican father and husband leaves it to the mother while he runs off and indulges in public acts of bravado. The mother, left alone with the task of socializing the children, ends up perpetuating yet another matriarchal-minded generation.
A father’s role involves…involvement, and laziness or strategic absence doesn’t cut it. For a man to leave the child-raising solely to the mother is to allow mother-driven values to infiltrate the brood. A cycle is reborn.
Today’s broken home breeds such a convoluted sense of generational posterity.
And we are left with…this.