My first year teaching, twenty years ago, I had a boy in my fourth grade class whose mom had abandoned his family when he was four. At ten he was still waiting for her to return. It broke my heart. It also put Mothers Day in a whole new light for me.
In the intervening years Mothers Day, like many other holidays, has become more and more complicated for me. Yesterday my daughters and I were at a funeral home to see their former babysitter as she said goodbye to her mother. Today must be hard for her. Today we went to Charlottesville to spend the day with family, including my sister-in-law who lost her five year old son two months ago. I know today was difficult for her.
Mothers Day celebrates those of us who are blessed enough to have strong relationships with our mothers and/or our children right now. We should take Mothers Day to count our blessings and be grateful for how lucky we are.
Instead, it feels to me like a day that isolates anyone who doesn’t fit that mold. People, like my daughters’ babysitter, who have lost their mother. People, like my sister-in-law, who have lost their child. People who never had a child. People who have a terrible relationship with their mother. People who have a terrible relationship with their child. People who do not have a mother.
I think those folks already feel somewhat isolated in our society, at least at times, and Mothers Day only adds to that. It doesn’t feel inclusive. I see a lot of people on social media sharing things in attempts to include everyone. That is kind and caring. But I don’t think it actually solves the problem. It doesn’t actually include all of those people. It highlights their difference and says it is okay. That’s something. But, honestly, I’d rather just get rid of Mothers Day.
My husband asked me today if I would rather we not celebrate it (for me – not for the rest of the extended family – I will only make this decision for myself). I said yes. I’d rather not have this holiday. I don’t need to be celebrated on this day because my family appreciates me regularly. Which is another blessing I have.
So, for Mothers Day today, I am counting my blessings and recognizing the ways in which I have been so lucky in my life. That’s how I’m going to #HackAHoliday. I’m taking this holiday and making it work for me.
(My family went to town with the #HackAHoliday concept. Our 14 year old said she had Galentine’s Day with her friend because she doesn’t have a boyfriend and that was her way to celebrate. My husband then suggested Gripesgiving. I told him he is welcome to celebrate it but not with us. Our youngest said no one would want to celebrate that but he and I both informed her that wouldn’t be true.)
I should also note that I have wonderful mothers in my life, both my own and my mother-in-law as well as my grandmothers and great-grandmothers and aunts and so many wonderful women. I am blessed beyond words.