Mother’s day is complicated. For the most part, relationships with our collective mothers falls into one of three camps: 1) Everything is great. 2) Your relationship with motherhood is, best case, complicated. 3) Half of the mother/child combo has passed.
Up until this year, only situation #1 has ever applied to me. I have a great relationship with my mom and my children. We freely express our love and I don’t really feel like I need an extra day to tell my mom I love her. I tell her I love her on a pretty frequent basis and I don’t love her extra on mother’s day. I love her all of the time.
I disliked mother’s day for situation numbers 2 & 3. Empathy killed it for me.
I ache for the women that only achieved motherhood for a brief, shining moment and then had it taken away, and the moms that tried so, so hard – but couldn’t ever make it happen. I feel for the kids in foster care that got cheated out of the kind of mom I have. I hurt for the step-mothers that give everything to their partner’s children and get forgotten because “your not my real mom”. I see the pain of the women that have lost their mothers; even if they’ve passed at a reasonable age, the loss of a mother doesn’t sting any less.
We place so much emphasis on our perfect families and wonderful Mother’s day cards and brunches and gifts that it fills up our facebook pages and spills into the rest of the weekend. But, in my experience anyway, mother’s day hits far more people painfully than joyfully.
For most of us, Mother’s day isn’t hand-print flowers and prom pictures and celebration of a special relationship – it’s hard and it’s rough and it’s a day of tears and an extra glass of wine.
I don’t begrudge any mother that has what everyone wants. I don’t begrudge anyone anything good in their lives. Maybe motherhood is the only thing that some women have.
What we have is a day that celebrates deeply complicated emotion and circumstance. It reaches out and stabs you with a thousand toothpicks.
So, for my friends that have lost children, could never have children, miscarried or still-delivered, my friends that have lost their mothers, my friends that are step-mothers, my friends that gave their babies to other families, my friends that are single moms with no support, my friends raising grandchildren when their own children can’t, my friends that are anxiously wait for their children to come back, my friends that have given up on their dreams of motherhood, and my friends that have escaped their own mothers (because not all mothers are good), today I think of you. I hope your heart aches less tomorrow than it did today.
Starting next year – I will stop celebrating mother’s day and start celebrating the strong women. The women that have propped me up when I was going to crumble under the weight of life. The women I admire as role-models and pillars of strength. The women that do their best every day. The women that smile and love and give everything to everybody. The women that get up and run when they are tired and the women that love and protect – no matter their children or mothers or the complications that go along with those titles.
I’m checking out on Mother’s day. Instead I will absolutely use the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the strength in all women. They strength I see every day, mother or not.