Of Mother’s Days & Father’s Days and how one international family deals with them…
You probably know that it’s going to be Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, right? We pick up the phone and call our moms, our sisters (with kids), just the way we’ve always done. Well almost.
Thing is, Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated on one specific date. In fact, amongst the 190 or so countries in the world, Mother’s Day celebrations occur on a great number of dates from January (Myanmar) to December (Indonesia)
When I was little, we’d celebrate Mother’s Day as a family. My dad, my brother and I would make sure my mom wouldn’t have to work at all that day. We’d fix breakfast, we’d take her out to lunch or dinner (dad would pay as his contribution) and we’d pick flowers and maybe even draw something for her as a gift. As we grew older and left the nest, we’d still call and congratulate. After moving to Sweden, I became painfully aware of the international date mixup, as Sweden celebrates two weeks after the Swiss (and the US, Canada and many others) and my mom would be upset when I’d call two weeks “too late”… To her, it was either on the date she cared about or not at all.
Mom passed away last December and I’ll miss not being able to call her, twice, once to make sure to make her date, and once to remind her that other countries celebrate on different dates. It had become a bit of a joke between us after a decade of me being abroad.
We haven’t given Mother’s Day much thought in our little family of two and a half men. Being born to a surrogate, our son Sascha doesn’t have a mom (only an anonymous egg donor), so there’s really no one to celebrate. Sure, we continue to make calls to my mother in law and my sister in law, but that about sums it up.
Instead, the whole Father’s Day thing has slowly crept up from behind, and as you might expect from the above, it’s as complicated if not worse. Because Father’s Day isn’t as widely celebrated as you might think. I come from a country and a time and age where there was 1 Mother’s Day and 364 Father’s Days. The Swiss didn’t celebrate Father’s Day until 2007, fifteen years after I had left the country, so to me, this was anything but a natural celebration. It’s like Halloween in Europe, it’s on the calendar, but no one really cares or knows what to do with it, but the shops push hard for us to buy their stuff.
For now, we don’t care much about Father’s Day. Sascha’s too young to be bothered. He’ll be fifteen months in June. But we’ve at least had a discussion about how we will be celebrating it in years to come. See, Father’s Day to me, like Mother’s Day, isn’t just about celebrating your parent, it’s also about celebrating your partner’s contribution to raising your kids. With two dads, there are only so many lunches and dinners you can buy per day, and as the kids are young, they need some help. To serve two parents on one day must be quite an ordeal for the little ones. We’re lucky, as the Swiss, the Americans and the Swedes all celebrate Father’s Day on different dates. Hence, as my family is so international, we’ve decided to celebrate me on the US date in June, and Alex on the Swedish date in November. That way, we can both help Sascha to celebrate his dad and pappa respectively, without taking any focus away from either of us. I get to pamper Alex in November and I hope to get a day off in June.
There’s a bonus in it for me: as Swedish shop owners are completely oblivious to a Father’s Day in June, there won’t be a single ugly tie in stores for Sascha to buy in years to come, not that I wear any, but still…
How do you celebrate your parents? Your partners? And how do you plan on involving your kids? I’d love to hear from you, the comment section awaits you!