SALT LAKE CITY — First and foremost, this article is not about motherhood, it’s about Mother’s Day.
Although challenging, motherhood has been a wonderful and profound experience. Being a mother has brought joy into my life that I can’t really explain, but like mentioned above, this article is about Mother’s Day.
I find little joy in Mother’s Day. I think many moms feel the same way. If you polled a room of women, it would surprise people how many females believe that this holiday comes with flowers, cards — and a truckload of guilt.
For some mothers, Mother’s Day can be a reminder of the women they are not. All of the attributes they lack, or are working on without immediate success, can come to mind during this day. Stories, Facebook posts/Twitter feeds and media outlets all share stories of wonderful and extraordinary mothers. But for the rest of us, it can be a painful reminder of things we lack. How sometimes our babies go two — or three — days without a bath, or how we let our toddler occasionally sip out of our soda cup when they start having a meltdown in the grocery store. Or how we regrettably lost it, having our own mom meltdown, when a young child pooped, barfed or destroyed something in our home. Right or wrong, Mother’s Day can make women feel like they can’t measure up to the “perfect” mother they desire to be.
For some, Mother’s Day can be a tough reminder of the fact they aren’t mothers. For the majority of my 20s, I was single and childless. Mother’s Day was often a day I was reminded of the fact that I was not a mother. By the time I had married, and my husband and I tried to start a family, it took us almost a year to conceive a child, due to some minor but prolonging health issues I had. Almost weekly, I got questions from well-intentioned friends and acquaintances to why we hadn’t had a child yet. Someone even said that she heard a rumor at church that I didn’t want to have children because I was so career-driven (I had been working professionally for almost nine years at that point in my life). Little did these people know the reality of the situation. I can only imagine the pain that other people, who have been trying to have children for years, feel on a Mother’s Day — a day full of reminders about children and mothers — and the significance in of itself, of being a mother.
Some women don’t have the ideal mother situation. Both men and women may not have had a great mother, or even an involved mother, in their lives. Or perhaps they had a falling out with their mother in recent years. Although, I personally can’t relate to this (as please read my indulgent Facebook posts on Mother’s Day about my own mom and mother-in-law), I have friends say that to them, Mother’s Day can be a hard day, because they don’t have an ideal mother.
Some women don’t have living mothers. I had a friend whose mother passed away very unexpectedly and tragically when she was attending college. That first Mother’s Day was especially painful for her. Constantly being reminded through Hallmark commercials and grocery stores pushing flowers and candy — Mother’s Day, for my friend, was just a day she had to do her best to get through. I know many other women, regardless of their age, who don’t have living mothers, and it is a day that can be reflective, but also hard to get through because they simply miss their moms.
Whether you are a fan of Mother’s Day or not, here is the thing women must remember — Mother’s Day is just a day. It is not a defining moment, nor should the amount of praise or adoration, or amount of gifts one receives equate to the quality of a woman you are. And that is true for any day of the year. Mother’s Day wasn’t created to make women feel bad about themselves or their situations, although sometimes we can’t help how we feel. Women must remember that instead of feeling bad or sad on Mother’s Day, they must focus on the most important aspect that sometimes gets overlooked on this day: the love that mothers have for others, and the love that others feel for them, perfect mother or not.