Mother's Day Is Nonsense
It's literally the worst holiday for many, many people.
Posted May 09, 2020
Today, I told my parents all of my lies.
Yes, it’s true. Every lie I had ever told them—I fessed up to. Yes, this is the craziest idea, ever, right? But in her book, Maybe It’s You, that’s exactly what Lauren Zander says will free us. Of course, she’s not the only one to say good things about the Truth. We’ve heard “the Truth will set you free” for years. To anyone who has been in any recovery program, this is also known generally as Steps 4, 8, and 9. Oh, and I also have a favorite: The Truth will set you free, but not until it is finished with you. (David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest).
All of the above are applicable to truth. Sometimes the journey to the truth is not an easy process.
So I told my parents all of my lies that impacted them and our relationship, and today I became free. We laughed, we cried and I was grateful to see them via Facebook video and enjoy their company. It was a long time coming for our healing—this whole honesty thing.
As I was finishing the conversation with my mom, she told me: “I hated the first Mother’s Day after your grandmother died. Come to think of it, I don’t like Mother’s Day at all.”
I nodded through the phone. I understood. What a funny Truth to end such a vulnerable conversation with my own mother. How honest, how vulnerable for a daughter and a mother to discuss how much they don’t like Mother’s Day.
Honesty. The new drug. Whoa.
In recent years, I have started to rage against Mother’s Day. That’s the truth. Because it’s Mother’s Day weekend, I feel that I should explain why.
Mother’s Day is an unfair holiday to push upon the world. An unjust holiday to force upon people who have: lost their mothers, lost a child, hate their mothers, hate their children, want to be a mother (but can’t), don’t want to be a mother (and are societally shamed for it), thought they wanted to be a mother and realize “whoops, that was a mistake,” are dealing with infertility, adoption, or fear, have mothered their grandchildren or other family members (and resent this), other complex gender issues around mothering—and I am sure I am leaving off many other options.
Summary: I petition that we cancel Mother’s Day going forward. That we let people interpret, celebrate (or not), love (or not) and deal with their mother (or not) relationships however they’d like. That we release the world from its obligation to love and adore mothers of all kinds, when maybe that’s contrary to a true story. That we release women from the pressure to be (or not to be) mothers. That instead we just celebrate people—and their familial choices—while minding our own business.
Look, I feel this way even though I am the ideal recipient of the Mother’s Day holiday.
My mother is alive and she’s wonderful; I am the mom to two healthy children, and I have never experienced a mother-related loss. I should freaking love Mother’s Day!
But I do not love Mother’s Day. I do not love Mother’s Day because I have a set of eyes and a heart that bleeds for those who are hurting. I can see that Mother’s Day is painful—far more painful than joyous. The pain is spread all over social media: “I miss my mom” or “I miss my son.” What is even harder? Knowing the silence that the day brings. The women who remain quiet, who suffer in silence, and sink further into depression from their mother-related wounds (as a child or a mother, or a woman who wants to be a mother, etc.).
My friend (who happens to be a psychotherapist), Britt Frank, MSW, LSCSW, SEP, wrote recently about “the Mother Wound” and how difficult Mother’s Day is for us.
She writes, “Mother’s Day can be a REALLY triggering, guilt-ridden, fearful and confusing day for many people… For some, Mother’s Day is a wonderful day filled with family and good memories. For many others, it is a terribly sad, aching, confusing, lonely, and painful day. You are not alone and you are not crazy.”
So today, I want to share my feelings and Britt’s words in the hopes that it provides a small pressure-release or synchronicity for those who are hurting.
When you think, “Have mercy, I hate Mother’s Day,” take comfort in the fact that many of us do. The forced celebration of some of the most sacred, most heart-breaking, and vulnerable times of our lives is a small, repeating trauma each year.
*On Mother’s Day, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and stay off social media as much as possible. For those who love this day, I urge you to be gentle with the rest of the world when you engage in the world on Mother’s Day. Be kind in your postings, your words, and your celebrations, remembering that this time is sometimes the absolute worst day of the year for some of your fellow humans.
*By the way, this last part? It can apply to ALL the painful holidays. A reminder that we can all be a little kinder and more thoughtful to those in pain.