The Challenges of Mother’s Day

This past week one of my third graders asked me if we were going to do anything for Mother’s Day. We were not. I have rarely done anything with my students for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Initially it was because I’m not that with it. Those holidays tend to sneak up on me so I never had anything planned. Now it is more of a conscious decision.

from A K M Adam’s flickr

I had a student my first year of teaching who I will never forget. He was a fourth grader, so only ten years old, when I taught him. His mother had left when he was four and he’d had no contact with her since then. My memory is that he was still believing that she would be back one day. It broke my heart.

Creating Mother’s Day presents in the classroom seemed like cruelty with that child there. I know I could have offered him the chance to create the gift for some other important woman in his life. Or for his dad, who was doing all of the parenting. But it could still, so easily, have felt like a slap in the face to watch his classmates create items for their moms.

Mother’s Day reminds me of how very lucky I am. I spent half an hour on the phone the other evening with my mother. My parents are still positive, important people in my life. I adore my daughters. I’m sure I annoy them frequently, but we do pretty darn well together. They share what is going on in their lives with me and ask for advice. We enjoy spending time together. I even got lucky to have a wonderful mother-in-law. Mother’s Day does not cause any problems for me.

I know that isn’t true for everyone. Mother’s Day can be a challenge for many. For people who have  lost their mother or have a difficult relationship with their mother. Or for mothers who have lost their child or have a difficult relationship with their child. Or people who want to be mothers and are not. Or women who do not want to be mothers and get a lot of crap for it.

I’m reminded of how I feel about Teacher Appreciation Week. If I am lucky enough to have good relationships with my mother and my children, I don’t really need Mother’s Day. If I don’t have good relationships with them, Mother’s Day is more painful than positive. So it is not a holiday I address in my classroom.

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