Mother’s Day: Why do we do this?

I am not a curmudgeon who believes that we shouldn’t recognize moms for their hard work. But the older I get, the more I wonder why we continue to celebrate this holiday when so many people have a difficult time with it.

There are the people like me who have lost their mother, and the day always brings that familiar lump in the throat as we quickly scroll past images of peers celebrating with their mothers on Facebook.

There are those who do not have mothers to celebrate at all, because their mothers were the source of pain and/or neglect in their lives.

There are those single moms who might not be recognized at all if there is no other family member to prompt the kiddos to make her breakfast in bed, paint a picture, or dig up some dandelions to present to her on that day.

There are also those who desperately want to be a mother, and haven’t been able to conceive and/or adopt. This day can bring sadness for these mothers-to-be.

Finally, we have those who were mothers, but lost a child. I can’t imagine the grief that this day must bring for them.

Allow my idealist side to offer a proposal: Is it so revolutionary to consider sharing your thanks with your mother, should it be an option and appropriate for you, on many days of the year without Hallmark reminding you to do so? We all have these handy devices that allow us to set reminders for ourselves.

Why don’t we look around us and give moms a hand on a regular basis? Arrange to look after her children so that a mom can go shopping or sit in a quiet room for a few hours if needed. Tell a mother she is doing a great job on a random day. That probably means more anyway. Encourage kids to be kind to their mothers every day. Let’s toss out the one day a year model.

Now, my realistic side will offer a perhaps more achievable proposal: Since American society is not likely to let go of this holiday, why not do the above, AND also be mindful of the people in our lives for whom Mother’s Day really sucks. Reach out and tell them that you are thinking of them on what must be a difficult day (not on Facebook, but in real life, or by a phone call or card). Take care when you address a group at work, church, or other gatherings that your blanket wishes of “Happy Mother’s Day,” might hit some people right in the gut. Celebrate, yes, but be mindful of the fact that not everyone has a reason to celebrate with you, and assuming so can unintentionally hurt people close to you.

Myself, I made it through another Mother’s Day with only a few tears while talking to my sister, and otherwise tried to have a “normal” day with my kids. I appreciated them, they appreciated me, and that did not diminish today, the day afterwards. I imagine tomorrow will be much the same.



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