Two years ago, I saw what was (and still is) my favorite FB post on Mother’s Day. Like most other 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.
Out of hundreds of posts on Mother’s and Father’s Days seen in the last few years, why did 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 souls out there who have absorbed and articulated their life experience very well. For most of us, however, it takes decades to put things in a proper perspective, and to situate and interpret sensibly one’s personal history in the larger scheme of the world. Practical wisdom, to paraphrase the Nicomachian Ethics, is the tears of experience. It also involved a lot of reflection and self-reflection and, possibly, therapy or absorption of great art.
The second reason is the length and wording of the posts. It should be said out loud that 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 very appealing in this case. (Thank God that most people don’t write long posts on those Sundays because, really, most viewers click approval for the photos.) In addition, the phrasing of the post should appeal should be appealing and should much 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 as they follow 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 hardly a bad thing. It is, in fact, quite good in many respects. But it also tends towards flattening and simplifying. Well, these two posts became my favorites because they qualify the accepted sentiment and transcend it with a whiff or two of revelation and truth: the last adjective in the Mother’s Day caption; the third sentence in the Father’s Day caption.
I’ve enjoyed reading the appreciative posts on Mother’s and Father’s Days that showed up on my feed each year. For the reasons above, however, 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.
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