Help! The Mother’s Day advertisements have already started. I thought maybe with the COVID-19 crisis shutting everything down, we could skip the whole thing. No brunches, no special sales, no mother-honoring rituals at church. Everything is closed, and we’re supposed to stay home. We could finally have a respite from the whole mess. But no, here it comes again this Sunday. Have Mother’s Day brunch delivered, send her flowers, set up a family Zoom meeting, show her how much you care. Yada yada yada.
Last night on a sitcom, just in time for Mother’s Day, one of the main characters found out she was pregnant, and I cried. For Pete’s sake, does it never end?
Time to duck and cover again.
In the UK, they celebrate “Mothering Sunday” in March. It’s much like our own U.S. Mother’s Day. Some people who survived it offered their advice on the Full Stop podcast recently.
Civilla Morgan and Allie Anderson both had fertility problems and frequently write and speak about being childless not by choice. Like the rest of us, they grit their teeth through the day honoring moms.
Morgan, a “preacher’s kid,” used to go to church every Sunday. On Mothering Sunday, the mums were asked to stand and receive a gift. We all know how that feels. It sucks. An older woman suggested she simply not go to church on that day. Instead, she started talking to people about how painful it is, and she got several churches to change how they approached the day.
“It’s not okay for mothers to stand while non-mothers remain seated,” Morgan said. While she understands that mothering is a most important job, “We’re still women and we’re still human. People need to realize there’s a whole community existing in plain sight.”
She has come to accept that God has his reasons for why her life is the way it is, but she strives to make other people understand how the childless feel when they’re left out.
Anderson also struggles with Mothering Sunday. She can feel relatively fine the rest of the year, and then comes the holiday. “It can put you right back at your very lowest.” Mothering Sunday/Mother’s Day just emphasizes the feeling of “otherness,” she said.
For Anderson, it’s not just the grief of not having children but the pregnancies she lost, the deaths of the children she might have had.
We all know this is a “Hallmark holiday,” blown out of proportion by companies trying to sell their merchandise. We know we should honor our own mothers every day, not just Mother’s Day. But it still hurts. So how do we survive?
- Avoid social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). You know it’s going to be full of mom celebrations.
- We do need to honor our own mothers and grandmothers if they’re still around, but it does not have to be on that actual day, Anderson says. Why not celebrate the weekend before or after and make other plans for Mother’s Day?
- Morgan suggests journaling to release the thoughts and feelings you don’t feel you can say out loud.
- Don’t go to restaurants where the servers will be wishing every woman Happy Mother’s Day.
- Don’t go to church if they traditionally single out moms with a special ritual.
- Don’t expect your stepchildren to do anything special; they will be busy honoring their bio mom.
This year, the celebrations may all be online, but the same advice applies. Instead of moping, do something fun. Take a hike, go to the beach, watch a movie, read a book, clean the garage, or stay in bed and make love all day. Do whatever makes you happy, and if anyone complains, explain that while you love and honor the mothers in your life, the day is too painful for you, so you’ll see them another time.
For male readers, the same applies to Father’s Day. Go fishing or something till it’s over.
The Full Stop Podcast for folks who are childless not by choice is a good resource. There are enough posts to keep you busy all through Mother’s Day.
I wish you all health and peace on Mother’s Day and every day.