Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I do not actually like this holiday at all, and maybe I am approaching it all wrong but I think it is a mean holiday.

It is mean because of people like me who do not have moms anymore. I remember the last Mother's Day card I gave my mom -- I was 23 years old and she was in the hospital getting a terminal breast cancer diagnosis at age 45 for her Mother's Day gift -- my card said in blue letters: To hell with Freud -- I love my mother".

Mother's Day is mean because of people like my student who lost a pregnancy recently -- I am sure she appreciates the reminder that she is no longer going to be a mother this year.

It is a mean holiday because of people whose children are dead. I am thinking of one today whose daughter actually died of childhood cancer on Mother's Day. I am thinking that mom is not appreciating anything that says Happy Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is mean to women who struggle with infertility -- that silent and constant loss and the ever present but unacknowledged grief that comes from yearning for something that seems so easy for everyone else.

It is mean for people who never found themselves -- for whatever reasons -- in a place to have children and who so wish life would have dealt them a different hand -- one that involved children.

Mother's Day is mean to stepmothers, who might get an obligatory Happy Mother's Day from step-children who otherwise have not recognized her for some time; the dutiful greeting only makes the silence of the other days so much louder.

Some have lost children to causes other than death, and for them this is also a mean holiday as we mourn our missing children, who will always have a place in our broken hearts.

So yes -- Happy Mother's Day indeed -- but likely we will say that to someone who doesn't feel happy at all, and only increase their sorrow as they recognize that they are not understood and their sadness and loss is not acknowledged. So for those many, here is my Mother's Day greeting: I am sorry.


  1. Or you can look at it from another view. I am going to go visit my mother today and hope I can somehow connect. I spent the morning lying in bed stroking Purna's tummy and thinking about why I have been so reluctant to visit her. I remembered all the bad stuff, the good stuff and thought about forgiveness. It would be easier if I had one loving memory, but she did give birth to me. So I will go see her today and hopefully bring some joy to her day.

  2. It does have a bittersweet flavor under all the edges of it, some years more than others. I appreciate you saying it outloud.

  3. I'm with you, for cases you didn't name, but the sentiment is the same...

  4. Thanks, M-A. Sam lost his mom five years ago and my best friend since kindergarten lost both her parents in her twenties. My heart hurts for them and you and others I know who have lost a parent way too young, and who have to endure these especially painful "holidays."

  5. Most holidays contain an element of sadness, for all the attempts at joy. I think the trick is to do as you have here -- to note the sad parts, but to also celebrate the goodness that remains. Mother's Day is not always the easiest for me, but I am so happy to celebrate my mother, my sisters, and my friends (many of whom 'mother' me in so many important ways). The joy of all of that should not be overshadowed. I just make room for all of it.