Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm No Longer Celebrating Mother's Day

VenusImage by Daquella manera via Flickr
Wow, O.K., here I go.

Over the past several years of blogging, I have sucked it up and put on a happy face when it comes to writing about Mother's Day. (You can read them here and here.)

Well, I decided I'm not going to do that this year.

Here is the thing...

As a girl, I really struggled with this Hallmark holiday because I did not have a very motherly mother. In fact, my deceased mother was whatever the opposite of a mother is.

When I described my mother to my friends in grade school, the first question they asked was, "Is this your step-mother?" Boy did I wish that the answer to that question was, "Yes."

Needless to say, my circumstance made it pretty difficult to come up with something sincere and heartfelt to write inside of the card I bought my mother every year. One year I actually wrote Thanks for giving me life. because those were the only kind words I could muster that year.

It amazes me that in spite of that rough start growing up, I knew from the time that I was a teenager that I wanted to be a mother myself. At the very least, I figured I could do a better job than my mother did. But the Universe had different plans for me. It made me choose between fighting cancer or preserving my fertility. Since you can't have kids when you are dead, I chose to fight.

Then, just when I got my life into a good place to pursue adoption, disabling chronic illness put the kibosh on my plans.

I hate to admit this, but in the weeks leading up to Mother's Day I start think about all the women in the world who are "breeders." Then I think how crazy it is that we celebrate those women who, through luck, mishap or fate, give birth.

How unfair is that to all the women like me, who desperately want but can't have children?

I'm not saying that mothers who take their job seriously and do everything they can to be good moms don't deserve a day filled with applause and recognition. Motherhood is hard work and mothers deserve flowers, gifts and thank you's every day of the year. I just have a problem with a womens' holiday that excludes women who haven't given birth.

Every year the thought crosses my mind that I should just make Mother's Day my own personal pity party and just not tell anyone. I should just stop celebrating Mother's Day.

But after some more thought this year, I have a better idea.

Let's change Mother's Day into Mothering Day.

Mothering Day would celebrate the act of being a mother, which means anyone and everyone who mothers can celebrate. That means all the family members in a child's life, both female and male, as well as community members like childcare providers and teachers, could stand together and enjoy recognition. This new celebration would bring together the village that surrounds each child born into this world.

In addition, I think Mothering Day is also an opportunity to do two more very important things:

  • help children in the foster care system get adopted and find forever families
  • encourage more people to get involved in children's lives through volunteering and supporting children's charities

I also feel that Mothering Day is inclusive of those who nuture and care for animals, pets, gardens, farms and all the other things on this big, blue planet that need love, attention and tending to flourish and grow.

So am I advocating for the abolition Mother's Day?

Perhaps, though I doubt I have the power to remove it from the calendar. But if I do, at least I am offering an updated, modern alternative.

Have I upset all you mothers out there with this post?

I hope not. But if I have, be sure to let me know by leaving me a comment.

As for me, I think the process of writing this post has help me decide against turning Mother's Day into a personal pity party and transform it into a celebration this infertile woman can embrace and enjoy.

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Blairmyaligia said...

I feel your pain Well to a point. Yes i have a daughter who has cut me out of her life & i am heartbroken. Plus I have a mother who should never be a mother. She is cruel and abusive. Oh selfish. Hugs my friend. So tomorrow I am going to go find someplace to hide and cry alone.

Anonymous said...

Selena, just the art of being a friend is mothering. you are there when I ask for advice, there if I have a problem. that, to me, is mothering and nurturing. I was an infertility patient also but I did get lucky and have two kids. Kids get older though and they don't need you in the same way. You have NOT offended me, as a mother. You have encouraged me as a friend. Happy Nurturing Day! Laurie

Migrainista said...

I also get twinges this time of year, increasingly so as it becomes more and more clear that I won't be able to have children. I agree that there are lots of great mothers out there who deserve to be celebrated but I can't help but feel left out on mothers day. It's bad enough that I'll never experience pregnancy, or holding my own child, or watching him or her sleep, or explore the world or all the other joys of parenthood. I get reminders all the time about what I'll never experience and mother's day makes it official...

I love your idea of a day to celebrate women who are struggling with infertilty but who are still motherly.

Knytrose said...

I understand your feelings. There are some women who should never be mothers. And it is the same for fathers. Being a mother or a father is more than contributing DNA or even having a child live with you until they can support themselves and get out of your house. And adoption just goes to show you that biology does not always have to be a part of the picture!
I have had times that I have struggled with being grateful or appreciative on Mother's or Father's Day. Things that I won't talk about to pretty much anyone - but that gave me pause for thought for years, on these days especially.
Fortunately, in the past 20 years I have been able to rebuild the trust and relationship with my parents. This is NOT the case with everyone's "biologics" as my daughter calls them. She doesn't even exchange Father's Day greetings with her father, but with her stepfather who she counts as her 'dad'.
So I would say - don't abolish 'Mother's' or 'Father's' Day -- just know that this is the day to celebrate the relationship with those who have provided that love and support to you personally. If you are lucky, as I have been, it will include the parents who have raised you - biological or adopted. And use these two days to say thank you and I love you to all those other wonderful people who have been there for you – grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc.

Sonja said...

One of the best things my therapist told me was that "Mothering is a state of mind."

I definitely look up to you for many things and have no problem asking you for advice or just heading to your page for a quick search.

And...you're an awesome mom to the furry ones in your life!

Jessica said...

I don't personally think that Mother's Day is just a day to celebrate those who have actually given birth. It's a day to celebrate all women who have "mothered" children in every way, shape or form...and Father's Day is the day for men to celebrate.

Anonymous said...

Well this sure is hte year for honesty about bad mothers. Jodie Foster on Letterman, Gwyneth Paltrow on Chelsea Handlers Show about her grandmother... If she had her time over again I'm not sure my Nan (a wonderful Nanna) would have kids, and my mother never should have been allowed to (she has admitted to being selfish to the point of prioritising her alcohol and cigarettes over our dinner, but has not apologised for it, nor for not protecting me from a violent sibling). Hmmm, I wonder why I choose to remain childless. A quote I wrote down and kept -
Childlessness some of it will be like mine - cherished, rigorously maintained, valued. Too true!