My mom doesn’t quite get the point of Mother’s Day. In her opinion, everyday is Mother’s Day if your kids listen to and care for you. She also thinks there is no need to celebrate her birthday because “we eat chicken everyday.” (Another comment to explore in another post.)
Part of me embraces her perspective around Mother’s Day because I have some real strong feelings about Hallmark holidays. And another part of me, the one that grew up in American culture, is pulled by the need to celebrate Mother’s Day because mothers need to be acknowledged in a society that constantly dismisses our value.
So many times, I feel like I’m being torn apart from the inside by these ideals.
Then on top of those feelings are the various ways people I know and love feel about this holiday. Those who do not have living children, those whose mothers have passed, those who are estranged from their mothers, those who wish they were mothers, those who feel unworthy for choosing to not be a mother, those who are adopted and never knew their birth mother, those who were not raised by a mother and the varied experiences go on and on.
This makes Mother’s Day so complicated.
I am writing all of this after a long weekend of visitors and a very late night tending to an extremely overtired child during which I felt like a complete failure of a mother.
Motherhood makes me question EVERYTHING about myself. One of my core truths is that my children and I were destined to be in these relationships, and while I do not think I will ever release this truth, my parenting experience constantly tests it. And then when that happens on Mother’s Day, a day where we acknowledge some glossed over version of motherhood, the pain is magnified.
And I realize now what I dislike about the holiday – the glossiness of it. The seemingly perfect pastel-y version of motherhood makes me want to gag. This is not to shame anyone who posted pictures of their delicious brunch or the flowers and gifts they got. We deserve to be celebrated! It’s just that I am so so tired of how this unreal version motherhood is perpetuated, especially on social media.
In honor of Mother’s Day, can we kick off this next year and really challenge and change how motherhood is experienced?
Can we share more about our real thoughts and experiences about motherhood?
Can we talk about how motherhood triggers our own experiences as children?
Can we highlight that motherhood not only brings us great joy but also those dark nights of the soul?
Can we challenge our partners, particularly those of us in hetero relationships, to pick up more of the mental and emotional load?
Can we build a village and trust, lean on and ask others to support us with various parenting duties?
Can we acknowledge that mother’s guilt is a real thing?
Can we be real and tell those who are pregnant that birth is just the beginning?
Can we support the new mothers we know, and I mean truly support them, by cooking and dropping off meals, doing their laundry, watching their older kids and checking in on them?
Can we stop the romanticization, capitalization and commodification of motherhood?
Can we stop the perpetuation that motherhood is expected for women who start hitting their mid-20s and 30s by calling out when that is happening?
Can we ensure that those who wish they did have children are seen in their role as community leaders, teachers, aunties, bonus grandma’s and other wise people supporting our communities?
Can we push for more support for working mothers in our corporate settings with better leave policies and a culture that enables flexibility?
Can we support doulas, midwives and birthing centers who are so critical to the entry into motherhood for many birthing people?
And there is so much more, especially for the later years that I’m not as familiar with.
Let’s un-glossify motherhood. Maybe then, everyday will be Mother’s Day and we won’t need the holiday at all.
To close – I want to acknowledge whatever your experience is around Mother’s Day is valid – however complicated or uncomplicated it is.
I write everyday because it allows me to voice what is at the surface. Once that is out of my head, I can dig in another layer deeper. My daily writing practice has been my greatest exploration of self and humanity. Sign up here to receive these thought nuggets in your inbox on the daily.