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?

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.

Duck! Mother’s Day is Coming Again

If we’re to believe the images we see in the TV commercials, Mother’s Day is a joy to all women. Their children shower them with gifts, Hallmark cards, and breakfast in bed, and the whole family gathers to honor the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Picture little girls in frilly dresses hugging their moms and grand-moms. Picture big picnics, feasts at a big dining room table, or gatherings at a favorite restaurant. Picture flowers and cards, and the whole world wishing you a happy Mother’s Day because you, the mother, deserve it.

Yeah. Now picture what it’s really like for many of us. First, our mothers may be dead or terminally ill or we don’t get along. The holiday emphasizes the fact that we don’t have a mother to honor. Second, we don’t all have children. We go to church and feel left out when special prayers are said for the mothers. We go out to eat, and the waiter assumes we’re mothers, but we’re not. We go to a family gathering and feel left out because we’re the only ones without kids. We wait all day for some kind of acknowledgement from our stepchildren, and it doesn’t happen. Everywhere we look, people are talking about Mother’s Day, and it makes us feel like crap.

For those who are mothers, congratulations. Enjoy your day. For the rest of us, if we can focus on the moms in our lives, that’s a great thing to do. If you just can’t, run away until it’s over. It’s a good day to turn off the TV, stay away from Facebook, and avoid going to restaurants. How about a hike, a walk on the beach, or a movie instead?

I’ll be playing music for two Masses at church and then going to my monthly song circle. In between, I’ll probably have lunch with a friend who hates Mother’s Day as much as I do. Her mother, like mine, has died. She has adult children, but their relationship is rocky. So I’ll pretty much do what I usually do on Sundays, and I’ll enjoy it.

Over the years, Mother’s Day has gotten easier for me. It will for you, too, I promise. Try not to get yourself all upset about it. If you need a good cry, go ahead and cry. Then move on. It’s just one day.

Mother’s Day is Coming; Duck and Cover


It’s almost Mother’s Day. For everything I’m seeing all around me, it already is Mother’s Day and it lasts for several weeks. I don’t know many women who actually enjoy Mother’s Day. Most of us either don’t have kids, do have kids but don’t get along with them, don’t have a living mother to honor or don’t get along with their mothers and grandmothers. For everybody, the day seems to be fraught with tension. Have to get a gift. Have to send flowers. Have to take Mom out to brunch. But what are the siblings doing? Poor Mom can get pulled around among the kids till she feels like a Stretch Armstrong doll.
But we who do not have children can choose to ignore this day. It’s like National Secretaries Day or Canada Day. If we’re not secretaries and not Canadian or close to people who are, it has nothing to do with us.
Mother’s Day is hard. It reminds us of everything we don’t have. The main problem is the onslaught of advertising that insists we all have these happy families full of children, parents and grandparents who can’t wait to celebrate “Mom” with expensive gifts and tear-jerking cards. It builds up an expectation that is rarely fulfilled. I’ll bet if you asked mothers whether Mother’s Day was everything they’d hoped for, they’d say no. Well, maybe that one time back in 1983 . . .
It’s an advertising-based mass hysteria, sort of like the craziness that gets built up around the American Idol contestants. Last week when they went “back home,” they were honored with parades, speeches, and huge gatherings of fans bearing signs and gifts. The crowds were going nuts. Even little kids were screaming the Idols’ names. Now surely these people don’t all care that much about Angie or Kree or Candice. But they’ve been told over and over that it’s a REALLY BIG DEAL, so now they’re out on the streets screaming and bursting into tears because they met an American Idol. Those are manufactured emotions, my friends, and I think a lot of what we’re made to feel on Mother’s Day—and Father’s Day to a lesser extent—is also manufactured emotion.
Yes, we love our mothers and many of us who don’t have kids yearn to be mothers, but the bigger the hype the more it hurts. It’s hard to avoid; it’s everywhere. I went to our local department store a few days ago, and the staff kept making announcements about Mother’s Day sales and things we could buy for “Mom.” I passed displays of flowers, dresses and gift baskets, and my receipt came with a coupon for the jewelry department. The local paper is loaded with restaurant ads for Mother’s Day brunch and information about Mother’s Day activities.
Some of you will be attending gatherings of family or friends where you’ll be face to face with other people’s babies and with relatives who want to know why you’re not reproducing. You have my sympathy. I’ll be doing music all day, first at church—yes with its special prayer for mothers—and then at a song circle where with luck nobody will even mention Mother’s Day.
It’s a tough day. It took me years to stop being a ball of anger all day long, but I’m learning to let it go. You can, too, with time and practice. Meanwhile, if you can avoid the holiday craziness by going out in nature, watching a movie marathon or staying in bed all day, do it. If not, do your best to honor the mothers and not take it personally.
If you want to read more about Mother’s Day by people who understand how you feel, here are links to Marcy Cole’s Huffington Post piece, “Mother’s Day for Childless Women,” and author Anne Lamott’s classic on “Why I Hate Mother’s Day.”
Hang in there. On Monday, Mother’s Day will be over for another year.

Surviving another Mother’s Day

Dear friends, it’s almost Mother’s Day. If you’re anything like me, you hate this day. It’s all about mothers, and you are not a mother. People who don’t know you assume that you look like a mother and must be one, and that makes it hurt all the more. Everywhere you turn, you see tributes to “Mom,” advertisements for gifts and special activities for “Mom” and people planning family get-togethers to honor “Mom.” You might even be hosting or attending one of these events this weekend. I’m sorry. I’ll be leading the choir at two Masses at church on Sunday morning, so I’ll get to experience the Mother’s Day prayers and the after-Mass brunch twice. Then I’ll go home to my dog.

For me, Mother’s Day is not as bad as it used to be. For a while, especially after my mother died, the whole thing turned me into a raging crazy woman. I used to expect cards and gifts from the stepchildren, and that didn’t happen. I get it. They have their own mother and grandmother to honor. It’s just a tough day.

To survive, I urge you to avoid as much of the Mother’s Day mania as you can. Do something that makes you feel good, preferably far away from mass media. If you can’t, try to focus your energy on honoring people you love. Try not to obsess about what you don’t have.Think of Mother’s Day like Father’s Day or Secretaries Day or Brussell’s Sprouts Appreciation Day. It has nothing to do with you, so let it go.

And here’s another antidote, shameless plug intended: Childless by Marriage, the Kindle ebook, is available now as at Amazon.com. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. You can download the Kindle reading program for free on any computer or smart-phone and most tablets such as the iPad. So curl up with a book and ignore the craziness until Mother’s Day goes away. You might want to skip ahead to the chapter called Mother’s Day Rant.

The print book will be out this summer, but you can read the ebook today for only $2.99.

Another antidote: Feel free to rant about Mother’s Day here in the comments all you want.  We’re here for you.