Two years ago, I saw what was (and still is) my favorite FB post on Mother’s Day. Like most such posts, it includes a photo of the poster’s mother. Yesterday, I saw my favorite FB post on Father’s Day, which also shows a photo of the poster’s father.
The caption to the second photo isn’t long:
This father had nine kids with six different moms. I am the second child, from the first mom. I had some years of rage, and there are many things I wish had never happened. But I could never wish away this dad, or the brothers and sisters he gave me, all of whom I deeply love. Happy Father’s Day, Pop! Here’s you with your new haircut and your favorite veggie nachos.
The caption of the first photo is even shorter:
Happy Mother’s Day to my gorgeous, charismatic, and complicated mother.
Why is it that these posts from two fifty-something women–FB friends whom I haven’t met; one white and one mix-raced–become my favorites? I think there are at least three reasons.
The question itself hints at the first reason: age. There must be some morally precocious young adults out there who have absorbed their life experience very well. For most of us, though, it takes years and decades to put things in perspective. Practical wisdom, to paraphrase the Nicomachian Ethics, is the tears of experience. Plus reflection and self-reflection and, possibly, therapy or absorption of great art.
The second reason is the length and wording of the posts. Most people do not post about their parents on social media during the second Sunday of May and the third Sunday of June. I presume that they call, text, send a card, and see their mothers and fathers. I’d guess that the posters also do those things on top of posting. Anyway, some posts are long and some are short, and I, who tend to write long, find succinctness much more appealing in this case. (Thank God, most people don’t write long posts on those Sundays!) In addition, the phrasing of the post should mean more than merely the order of the words or sentences. All these things apply to these two posts.
Third and most importantly, their verbal contents are self-revelatory even when following the expected sentimentality about certain holidays and celebrations. Not unlike Hallmark cards, the majority of posts on Mother’s and Father’s Days conform to an accepted articulation of appreciation. The accepted and expected sentimentality, mind you, is a good thing. But these two posts became my favorites because they qualify the accepted sentiment and transcend it with a whiff or two of revelation: the last adjective in the Mother’s Day caption and the third sentence in the Father’s Day caption.
I’ve always enjoyed reading the appreciative posts on Mother’s and Father’s Days that showed up on my feed each year. For the reasons above, these two posts will probably stick in my mind the most in the near future.
PS: I thought the word “complicated” is perfect in the post on Mother’s Day. Of four basic parent-child groupings–father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, and mother-daughter–the last is most fascinating to me. It’s heavenly when it goes well, but God helps them when it doesn’t. It explains partially for the fact that father-son movies–The Great Santini is among the best examples–has always paled in comparison to the mother-daughter genre such as Terms of Endearment, The Joy Luck Club, and Lady Bird.