A ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ is a Fantasy

Mother’s Day is coming again. Time to duck and cover. Already the commercials are offering pictures of fantasy families with young beautiful moms, loving husbands and perfect children. Even people who have children don’t have lives like that. I know moms whose kids don’t even call or send a card. If you have stepchildren, you can make yourself crazy waiting for them to even notice you on Mother’s Day.

It’s a hard day for a lot of people. For those of us without children, the holiday smacks us in the face with the knowledge that we are not mothers. Mothers get special blessings at church, flowers and free drinks at restaurants, cards and gifts and parties. We get . . . zip. Or worse, we get mistaken for mothers and don’t know whether we should correct the person or not. “Happy Mother’s Day!” Oh, uh . . .

When I was young, I could focus my attention on my mother, mother-in-law and grandmothers, showering them with gifts and attention. Now they’re all gone. The day is painful for many of us whose mothers have died or who have a difficult relationships with their mothers. If you’re both childless and motherless, the day offers a double whammy. If you find yourself shedding some tears, it’s understandable.

My advice for surviving Mother’s Day is the same as always:

  • Stay away from places where everyone is celebrating moms. Don’t go out to eat, don’t go shopping, consider not going to church. Say no to Mother’s Day parties.
  • Skip the schmaltzy TV specials and watch a movie.
  • Stay off of Facebook and other social media sites that will be filled with Mother’s Day memories, family pictures and boasts about all the great things people’s families did for them. It will just make you feel bad. Don’t look.
  • Go out in nature. Rivers, trees, oceans and mountains do not care whether or not you have children.
  • Tell friends and family you’ll talk to them when Mother’s Day is over.

This Sunday, I’m going to stay home until evening, when I’m going to sing at an open mic where we’re all too obsessed with music to worry about having kids. How do you plan to spend Mother’s Day?

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Beyond Childlessness: Counting My Blessings

It’s my birthday! Rahhhhh! Birthdays are often problematic for me. I whine about the gifts I don’t receive and the people who aren’t around, but this time I’m just feeling grateful. My friends, I have a good life. As I prayed a summing-up-the year prayer last night, I didn’t even think about not having children. It’s true. I didn’t. I thought about all the great things I do have. My days are full of writing, music, books, dogs, great food, beautiful scenery, family and good friends who feel like family. I have had 64 years of good health. That could change in a heartbeat, but I am grateful. Yes, I miss my husband, and sometimes I wish I had more money, but at this moment, I know I am blessed.

I am grateful for you, too, for this sister and brotherhood of childless people that has formed here and taken a life far beyond my Childless by Marriage book. We can comfort each other, help each other to make the decisions we need to make, and encourage each other in our lives that may not have children but they do and will have many other wonderful things. Trust me. There will be tears, there will be regrets. But there will also be laughter and joy.

No, I haven’t started drinking already. It’s still very early here in Oregon. In a little while, I have to go into a difficult meeting at work, and it may be hard to hang on to a positive attitude. But I’m determined to do my best.

I found a couple of podcasts online that I think you will find interesting:

In the UK, they have just celebrated what is called Mothering Sunday. Like our American Mother’s Day, it’s a tough day for those who don’t have children. This “All Things Considered”program, which you can listen to for the next couple weeks, can be heard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b072nr1j

You can also listen to a discussion about the choice  of whether or not to have children and an interview with psychotherapist Jeanne Safer, author of Beyond Motherhood: Choosing a Life Without Children at http://iowapublicradio.org/post/childless-choice#stream/0

Also, do you know I have another blog called Unleashed in Oregon? Check out this week’s post, “Lawnmower One, Widow Lady Zero.” It might give you a smile.

Next week I’ll be in Tucson on a combination work/pleasure trip, so we will have a guest post that I know you’re going to love.

Your comments are always welcome.

Get Through Mother’s Day with Distraction and Action

Here were are again, on the eve of Mother’s Day. I noticed TV commercials touting gifts for “Mom” in early April. Now the dreaded day is this Sunday. The people who promote this Hallmark holiday have no idea how difficult it is for those of us who wanted children and don’t have them and also for those of us whose mothers and grandmothers are no longer alive. All this Mother’s Day hoorah just reminds us of what we don’t have and makes us want to go hide in a cave. Right?

Over the years I have mellowed from being viciously angry all day to resigned. I have come to accept that this is not my holiday. Just like Chanukah for Christians or Christmas for Jews. Just like it’s not my birthday. So I need to be a big girl and get over it. Sure. Sometime on Sunday, it will get to me. But I’ll live, and so will you.

To survive Mother’s Day, I recommend distraction and action.

Avoid everything that reminds you that it’s Mother’s Day and you’re not a mother. (Guys, apply the same rules next month for Father’s Day). Avoid TV, Facebook and other social media. Don’t go to restaurants where they greet you with Happy Mother’s Day and a flower. The mall is probably a bad idea, too. You don’t want to see mothers surrounded by their loving children.

If you have a mother, grandmother, godmother or other mother-figure still living, make the day about her, not you. As for your sisters, cousins and friends, let their spouses and children honor them. Send  a card if you must, but don’t go overboard. If they complain, explain that you love them but Mother’s Day hurts too much to get involved.

If your partner has children or grandchildren, expect nothing from them. They have their own mother. If they actually remember to honor you, too, be gracious and grateful, but don’t make yourself crazy waiting for a card or gift.

Distract yourself with creature comforts and non-motherly activities. Go hiking. See a movie in an actual theater. Go to a spa. Stay in bed with your sweetie and make love all day. Read at a beach or a swimming pool while sipping pina coladas.Throw yourself an Unmother’s Day party at which no one is allowed to mention babies or children.

Remember, it’s just one day, and then, thank God, it will be over for a whole year.

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Last week I posted a long comment from “Sam” about his childless dilemma with his wife who couldn’t have children. Several of you responded with great comments. Go to the post to see what people said and maybe add a comment of your own.
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Happy Wednesday, dear friends.