Why is Mother’s Day a bigger deal than Father’s Day? While this certainly doesn’t hold true for everyone, it certainly does for me. I wanted to spend some time reflecting on why Mother’s Day holds much greater significance for me, and why it seems to be more culturally prominent as well. To be clear upfront, this is not an assertion that Mother’s Day ought to be more important to everyone. It is a rumination on my own personal experience, as well as a probe into the cultural impact of mom’s special day. Sorry, dad.
Restaurants As Anecdotal Evidence
Have you ever eaten out at a restaurant on Mother’s Day? Chances are you probably have, and chances are you probably waited an obscene amount of time for a table as well. I’ve spent all of my life in the workforce thus far working in a restaurant on Mother’s Day, and let me tell you, it’s an absolute nightmare.
Mother’s Day was easily the busiest day of the year where I worked, with Thanksgiving rapidly gaining ground. It’s one of those days of the year that every employee dreads. There’s not a single moment of reprieve the entire day. It’s insanity from open to close, essentially. Father’s Day, however, is just a Sunday in June.
Why is going out to eat on Mother’s Day so much more popular than Father’s Day? A likely factor is the traditional role of the wife and mother, which is to cook for the family. So, families are more likely to go out to eat in order to give her a rest from the cooking. However, there are so many families for which this isn’t the dynamic, so why do people keep going out to eat despite the horrible crowds? I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that people need to stop going out on Mother’s Day all the damn time. It’s not worth it. Just cook for her instead.
Money talks, and right now, the money still says that Mother’s Day is more important. According to recent data from the National Retail Federation, American consumers spent roughly 24 billion dollars on Mother’s Day, compared to just 14 billion dollars on Father’s Day. Additionally, about 84% of people reported that they planned to celebrate Mother’s Day, compared to %76 for Father’s Day.
Why is this the case? Part of it could be attributed to the fact that Mother’s Day was recognized nationally much earlier. It became a national holiday in 1914, whereas Father’s Day wasn’t officially recognized until 1972. While it is tragically ironic that Mother’s Day was officially recognized six years before the 19th amendment was ratified, it still means that the holiday had a significant head start on its patriarchal counterpart.
When you think about traditional gifts for women versus men, there tends to be a disparity in price. We tend to focus on things like expensive jewelry for women, but default to items like ties for men. It stands to reason that Mother’s Day is just more historically marketable than Father’s Day. After all, true free will doesn’t really exist, and we’re all being marketed to at all times. Capitalism skews the intentions of all holidays.
Let’s Talk About Childbirth
Now, I have had a kidney stone before, and I’m told that the pain is comparable to childbirth. However, I only passed a small calcified mass. My mom passed me. Frankly, I don’t know how birth mothers don’t hold that fact over their children every single day. If I had given birth to me, I wouldn’t put up with any of my shit.
This is one of the ways in which heteronormative standards sway perceptions. Not everyone who is a mother has given birth, and not everyone who has given birth is a mother. It is important to make this distinction, as the miracle of life only defines some motherly relationships, not all.
Still, there is an appreciative guilt that lingers any time I think about what my mother had to go through to bring me into the world. I’ve got a really big head. What’s my father to me, strictly biologically speaking? He’s a sperm donor. Once again, sorry dad.
Distant Emotions And Toxic Masculinity
If this is coming across like a roundabout roast of my father, I swear it’s not. My dad is a good, hardworking person who has sacrificed a lot to support our family, but I’d never say that to his face. Okay, maybe I’ll get to that place sometime before his eulogy, but who knows?
There exists an emotional distance between my father and me, and I know this is a very common occurrence. That’s where that good old buzz word, toxic masculinity comes in. I, an emotionally guarded man, don’t have an emotionally vulnerable relationship with another man in my life, and likely never will. It just feels so uncomfortable. Let’s not talk about our feelings, let’s just talk about sports, and maybe an emotion or two will accidentally slip out in the subtext of discussing touchdown dance celebrations or something.
This is part of what makes Father’s Day feel less important to me. I’m not entirely sure that my dad even has emotions other than disdain for his favorite teams and an affinity for Werther’s originals. Not only is getting gifts for him much more difficult, it’s also much less expressive. Gifts are tangible symbols of a person’s feelings, and yearly hats just don’t hit the same way.
Sexism (Kind Of)
As a straight white man, I can confidently say that we ruin everything. Historically, we are the cause of most of the world’s problems, after all. Misogyny is still rampant in our increasingly tolerant society, and we have a long way to go. We don’t have a white history month or a men’s history month, because every month is both of those things.
It’s simply less important to celebrate the achievements of men because we have been doing that for millennia. This applies to Father’s Day like a good crop dusting, and I’m not talking about corn. For those unaware, crop dusting is when you fart while walking past someone. Your noxious gases will waft over their senses after you’ve walked past. They won’t know what hit them.
What I mean by this is, celebrating Father’s Day feels just a little bit stinky. While it’s great to recognize the father figure in your life, does he really need another day about him? The cloud of patriarchal gasses lingers over the whole day and makes everything smell just a little bit like ass.
I Love You, Mom
The conclusion that I’ve reached through my incoherent ramblings is that I’m biased. Simply put, I love my mom in a way that is inherently different from my dad. There’s a different kind of depth and warmth, and a unique set of problems as well. I think that’s what this whole thing was about – my process of rationalizing the nuances of my own feelings toward my parents. That’s why I perceive Mother’s Day as being more important than Father’s Day because it is simply more emotional for me.