According to my 6-year-old son, Oscar, today is not Mother’s Day.
His older siblings explained that Mother’s Day is a fake holiday used to sell cards and candy and perfume.
“Kind of like Valentine’s Day,” one sister said.
“We invented it,” another kid said with a wink.
He took this to mean, quite literally, that his siblings made up the holiday as a means for buying gifts for Mom.
Not that my wife is a bad cook, but they also said, “And we like the going-out-to-eat part, too.”
With nothing to give his mother for Mother’s Day, he simply said, “I can just give you something tomorrow. After all, Mother’s Day is just a made-up holiday.”
His older siblings snorted and laughed so loudly at this that my son’s cheeks turn bright red. He knew he’d been played. Tears welled in bottom of his eyes. He stormed from the room, and buried his face in a pillow.
Confused and ashamed, he was trying to process this new information, and to sort out why today wasn’t really a day to celebrate Mom.
Trying to console him, I said, “Every day is Mother’s Day,” loud enough for his siblings to hear in the other room.
I said this partly in jest, to tease my wife and to get a reaction from his sisters.
“Isn’t that the truth,” the middle sister exclaimed.
Standing on the precipice of a potentially deep hole I did not want to be in on my wife’s special day, I looked to her for help.
Quick as whip, Mom came to the rescue with, of all things, her smartphone.
Yes, we fully admit to being the kind of parents who pull out their screens to sit in front of sad, young eyes. Critics who say it’s bad parenting to open an entertaining YouTube video for gloomy or unruly kids have clearly never had gloomy or unruly kids.
Parents who’ve been in this situation know what a blessing it is to have that kind of solution at their fingertips.
My wife opened the Facebook app. She’s not on social media often these days, and when she is, it’s usually to reminisce. A few years ago, before we knew better, we were posting lots of pictures of our kids. We often only shared images with close friends and family, but we still have access to all of those great memories.
There’s usually one memory, one post long forgotten, conveniently added to the top of our Facebook feeds entitled “Your Memories on Facebook.” Today’s memory is a picture from last Mother’s Day. It’s my wife playing a game with my son.
His tears quickly turn to smiles and laughter as they scroll through other posts, some from when he was just a baby.
“See, every day really is Mother’s Day, and I have proof,” she said, scrolling through post and pictures of our happy kids.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.