Opt Out: A Mother’s Day Rambling

My phone pinged at the end a particularly challenging day. Nothing extraordinary, just the regular challenge of parenting a 10-year-old going on 30. I grabbed my phone expecting an entertaining TikTok meme or a much-needed mascara discount. Instead, the text read Opt Out.

The marketer in me was intrigued. After all, what company sends texts encouraging you to opt out. But then I continued reading – and it was a well-intended company giving me the option of opting out of Mother’s Day sales. They recognized how tenuous the mother-daughter relationship can be and if receiving texts would bring up too many emotions, they wanted to be respectful and give me the option to take a break from receiving mother related sales.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me. As a mama who was dealt the rough reality of a failed adoption only to birth a beautifully, complex, baby boy named Jake, I understand the miracle of motherhood. As a motherless daughter, I understand the emptiness that comes when that bond is broken.

These emotions are heightened when capitalism maximizes on the emotional strings of Motherhood. Apparently those emotions are worth big bucks. The National Retail Federation anticipates Mother’s Day spending to reach $35.7 billion this year, with the average household spending $274 on flowers, gifts and special outings. That’s a lot of tulips and mimosas.

But, opt out? For a moment, I thought of how amazing it would be to have an opt out button. To be relieved of the grief that came with saying good-bye to my mom at 18. Or, to take a quick break from answering the never-ending statement of “mom, I’m hungry”.  In some respects, it’d make life much simpler. To opt in and out of life when it gets difficult. To pause before it gets real, only to reinstate it on the other side.

That moment was fleeting. Afterall, it is those challenging moments that make life matter. Opting out of missing mom would mean opting out of the countless memories that made me who I am today. And just like that, I am reminded that loss is the price of admission to a life well-lived.

I never opted out of the texts. I don’t need a chocolate sale to remember that I miss my mom. Or, to understand how difficult carrying that job title is. I live both every day. But, it was a good reminder of how lucky I am to live a life void of absolutes. Of ultimatums of all in or all out. Life is not an either or, or an opt out. It is a bold, beautiful struggle that is filled with multi-tasking emotions. By embracing the mess. This Mother’s Day will be filled with joy and sorrow but endless gratitude for the bond between mother and child.

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