Mother's Day was always a great holiday for me. Except in 1988, 1989, 1990, '91, '92, '93, '94, '95, '96. '97, '98, '99, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. You might say, during that time period, which spanned two centuries, I was in a Mother's Day drought.
My mom was no longer around (I'm trying not to be morbid. I figured "no longer around" sounds like maybe she ran off to Bermuda with a flamenco dancer.. Go Mom!) and I had no babies arriving in the foreseeable future.
And for those nineteen years, I never could figure out how to respond when random people would say:
"Happy Mother's Day!"
Being a non-Christian, I've always had the same predicament with "Merry Christmas!" So precisely twice a year, once in May and once in December, I was speechless. The rest of the time, if you know me at all, I was then as I am now: Rambling. Words come out of my mouth and off my keyboard in no particular order. But back then, on those two occasions I could only stare and blink.
I've created a system of sorts that I think works well in these awkward or at least, pesky situations that I always like to share.
When people wish you well on these holidays that you are not celebrating at the moment, for whatever reason, I feel there are three possible solutions:
A) Be sarcastic/ridiculous/obnoxious - (My first choice for most everything. Surprised?)
Pesky Person: "Happy Mother's Day!"
My response (preferably yelled across a crowded room): "Are yoooou goooooing to your AA meeting this weeeeekeeend?!"
B) Educate (My least favorite option)
Pesky Person: "Happy Mother's Day"
My response (against my better judgment): "My mother's been gone several years and I have no kids yet."
Now the reason why this is my least favorite option is not only does it garner sympathy from people, say coworkers, whom I'd rather have strictly a "wave and walk" relationship with. (You know, when you get into work you wave and walk: "Good Morning!" and on Friday afternoon you wave and walk: "Have a Nice Weekend!") but now I'm setting myself up for further conversation thereby defying the rules of our unwritten wave and walk contract. It's a chess game you never win.
So she said: "Happy Mother's Day!"
Then I said:
"My mother's been gone for several years and I have no kids yet."
And now it's back to her: Crap! And now she has only 2 possible moves, each one as unsettling as the other:
1) The Sympathy Move "Oh I'm so sorry. Well try to have a nice weekend anyway. I'll be thinking of you..." (unsaid: ...while I'm sitting with my family having breakfast at the pancake house)
2) The Comforting as Though We Were Friends Move
"Oh, I didn't know. Have you been trying? You do want kids though don't you? They're such a blessing. How long have you been married now? Have you seen a doctor?
This is the worst case scenario. At least with the sympathy move, she says "I'll be thinking of you" and I say "Thanks...Bye" and I'm in the clear, free to go.
But now she's befriended me. Now it's back to me to respond. So I'm saying as little as possible...(which for me is a bad scene. Needless to say: I panic when I Tweet. "Oh geez, only 7 characters left"). So I say to this one:
"Yeah, I'll be fine. I've been to the doctor." The last thing you want to do is encourage more questions or even worse...advice. All the while in my head I'm thinking: ("Why didn't I just say, 'Have a Nice Weekend' when I had the chance?! Fk me! Look at that it's 5:08. Fk me again!)
And the third option...Also a goody:
C) Don't Educate...Evacuate...(For those of you who are rock fans: aka "The Bono Method")
"Happy Mother's Day"
"Have a Nice Weekend"
"Good luck at the dentist!"
"U2" And keep on walking.
Of course there's one more option: The Bright Side:
"Happy Mother's Day" "Not now. But say it to me again next year."