Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, a day of honoring and thanking our mom’s for doing the enormous, and often thankless, job of raising humans. In my family, this has usually meant Mass and brunch with Mom, gifts, cards, and a visit from Grandma. Unfortunately, due to work obligations and distance, I was not able to celebrate with my family in person. My Mom knows I love her, but due to other ongoing circumstances, my absence was a little harder this year. Many people find Mother’s Day challenging. It’s a “made up” holiday, designed in large part to sell greeting cards. Yet it holds a special place in many of our hearts and in the cycle of the year. For some, it can be the most challenging day of the day of the year. And for that, I propose a new holiday.
What is Mother’s Day Really?
Believe it or not, Mother’s Day began as an AntiWar Protest Holiday, which was subsumed by the Hallmark* card company and turned into something entirely different. The original inventor, Anna Jarvis, fought desperately for credit for creating the holiday to no avail. The fight left her broke and living in a sanitorium. It’s a very sad story, and in some ways reflects the way women’s labor, throughout history, has gone unrecognized. Mother’s Day is an attempt to recognize the invisible work of women who give birth to and/or raise children. This is a categorically good thing. We should recognize moms, especially those of us fortunate enough to have wonderful moms. They make enormous sacrifices for us, often putting our needs and aspirations ahead of their own. They deserve to be thanked. However, Mother’s Day can also serve as a stark reminder of loss.
Mother’s Day is hard for people who have recently lost their mom’s, women who have suffered miscarriages, and women who are struggling with infertility. It’s also hard for people who are estranged from their families, for any number of reasons, and those who have given children in adoption or been adopted themselves. In recent years, many people have wanted to celebrate those that stand in for absent moms, such as teachers, mentors, and extended family. In the LGBTQ+ community, chosen family are often closer then biological family.
A New Day for You
This Mother’s Day, there was a lot of discussion about how to make room for all of the various forms of motherhood. To be honest, I found some quite silly. We don’t need to celebrate “pet moms” or “those who have chosen not to have children” on Mother’s Day, for example. But many people do have legitimate reasons to find this day hard, and to feel left out. In my age bracket, I’ve started to witness more of my friends struggling with infertility. After a year or two – or more – of trying and failing to become a mom, the arrival of Mother’s Day feels like a slap in the face. The same goes for many others.
So I’m proposing that you make today your day. By today, I honestly mean whichever day you happen to be reading this blog post. This is my permission for you to do something special for yourself. Get that massage you’ve been wanting but haven’t made the time for. Buy yourself that special gift you’ve been eyeing but don’t think you “deserve.” Fill up your bubble bath, play for favorite album, and drink your favorite cocktail. Mother’s Day is a made-up holiday, and so is today. Whatever the situation, you are loved and you are special and the world needs people like you. Thank you for everything you do.
*Disclosure: I sometimes write for Crown Media, an extension of The Hallmark Company, but that is unrelated to this article or to the history of Mother’s Day.