Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Getting Over Myself May 15, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Whiny Wednesday came three days early for me this week.

I left the house well armed to face Mother’s Day (which I intended to embrace as Nurturer’s Day). Aside from calling the mothers in my own family, I had no need to recognize this Hallmark holiday. My husband and I enjoyed a long bike ride together, ran some errands, went out to lunch at a busy casual restaurant. While I noticed more women than usual carrying flowers, there was no announcement, no one stood up and asked everyone to join in singing to celebrate an individual, like we would if there was a birthday. Just another Sunday.

But the slights came in from odd angles, like the “Free Treat for Moms!” at the confectioners (How would they know? Should I go in and take one?) and the posters advertising “Gifts for the Special Woman in your Life…Mom” (I have lots of special women in my life, some who are moms, many are not). I spotted a magazine for women that looked interesting until I read the subtitle: “for the woman in every mom.” A barrista at a coffee house handed a drink over me to a woman further back in line, explaining to everyone else, “Moms should be served first, don’t you think?” (Do I have “Childfree” stamped on my forehead? What the fruitcake?!)

Maybe I’m oversensitive, or maybe I spot these things because on some psychologically twisted level I’m looking for them. Maybe I need to acknowledge that, for many women who are moms, this is the only day out of 365 that they are appreciated for their sacrifices. Maybe I just need to get over myself and stop whining.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.

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10 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Getting Over Myself”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Its called advertising, and you are oversensitive, entitled or not. The advertisers, and the world, are just responding to, what is a vast majority of the population. Like baby boomers, or men. And you don’t take offense (or even notice) how often you see an ad or promotion aimed at them. It’s understandable that you are oversensitive, but if you were really wondering, you are.

  2. jeopardygirl Says:

    I think women are far more aware of the choice they have made when they become mothers. These days, for most women, it IS a choice when they start the journey to motherhood. It’s not the “given” that it was 50 years ago. Back then, the sacrifices and work of Moms was under-considered, but I don’t think it’s that way anymore. That’s why I find the whole Mother’s Day hoopla today to be so annoying, and I don’t think you are oversensitive–sensitive, of course, but not overly so.

  3. Jen Says:

    We went out for breakfast at a small local cafe in town on Sunday. It was pretty busy, but pretty low key on any reference to it being Mother’s Day. We ate a very nice breakfast and then I went up to pay the check and gave my ATM card to the cashier, signed the slip and then was putting my card back into my wallet when the cashier handed me a “pink” rose and said “Happy Mother’s Day”. I was alittle shocked because I wasn’t expecting it, but just took it and quietly said “thank you.” My hubby was standing outside and when I walked out of the cafe to join him, he said, oh, they were handing roses out for Mother’s Day and I replied “yeah” and he said, “well you are a Mommy to our fur-babies, ya know.” I nodded my head and said, yes I am, as I walked to our car remembering our intend to embrace this day as Nurturer’s Day and so I did!

  4. Lois Says:

    I got through Mother’s Day okay, even the mother’s day video and recognition at church AND the parent/child dedication. They did recognize women without children as well as moms of almost every kind, except for moms who have lost their children.
    Other than this 20 min. of the service the day went well for me.
    The next day however, I get into a conversation with a friend about how it can be difficult for some women to come to church on Mother’s Day. (I thought I’d use the moment to raise a little awareness). She didn’t get it at all, and said well everyone HAS a mother, it’s a day to celebrate them. I quit after that point. After my whole conversation she just didn’t understand at all. I guess you have to not have kids to know?? I wish I could help people understand what it is like to be in our shoes but wonder if it’s even possible.
    So my Monday was maybe worse than my Sunday since I saw that my friend didn’t get it even after my conversation. It was more personal.

  5. Maria Says:

    Overall I had a good day on Sunday. Nothing really offended me. However, I caught myself looking for stuff on the internet that would make me upset andso I logged off. It made me realize that sometimes I want to make myself feel bad when I’m otherwise feeling fine.But I think it’s difficult to honor anyone without excluding someone else. On Valentine’s Day, people who are not in relationships feel bad. At weddings, people who are single feel bad. At bars, people who are alone and see couples on a date feel bad. I had a friend who spent 42 years longing to be married the way we long for a baby, and she was hypersensitive whenever she was asked as a conversation starter, so are you married? I tried to think about this a lot on Sunday (and really every day) to put my own loss in perspective. But I agree that most people don’t understand our loss unless they have walked in our shoes. My mother didn’t understand my loss until after my father died. I think because she feels the loss of him everyday, she finally gets my pain.

  6. loribeth Says:

    Yes, it’s supposed to be a day to celebrate our own mothers… but since most women get to be mothers eventually, and since motherhood is so glorified in our society right now, it is hard not to feel left out. I’m not sure why it’s so hard for some people to “get” that.

    Friday afternoon, I flipped over to Ellen DeGeneres’s show — it started off with the emcee voiceover saying, “Today’s show is all about moms! Moms!! MOMS!!!” (I kid you not.) I generally enjoy Ellen, but needless to say, the channel was quickly turned. :p

  7. lily Says:

    My husband had to work on Mother’s day, but on the counter when I woke up he left me a card telling me thank you for being such a great step-mom. It was very sweet of him, and I’m trying to feel better about not having my own children. Maybe someday it will feel ok and I can move on.

  8. DLadyEarlyGrey Says:

    I guess I don’t get the hate for Mother’s Day. Like you said, it is one of the few days mothers actually get to themselves. I do feel that this day is alot like all the marketing out there aimed towards mothers. That it is designed to soothe and calm them, and convince them that they made the right decision.

    I am definitely not one of the many people in the childfree community that feels a need to ruin the day for everyone else and act offended if someone assumes I’m a mother. I liken it to the “merry christmas” vs “happy holidays” debate. If someone wishes me “happy holidays” or “happy Easter”, I’m going to say “thank you” because that is the correct thing to do. It doesn’t offend me, it doesn’t even register. I’ll just take it in the positive way it was intended.

    As disheartened, even annoyed, as I am with so many parenting-related things (I still shudder or laugh when going through the baby section at Target), it’s odd how neutral I am about Mother’s Day. I just want the mothers in my life to have a good day.

  9. Laura Says:

    Kathleen, I love it! “What the fruitcake?!” That’s going to be my new favorite phrase. ;-) I hadn’t thought about the “Nurturer’s Day” angle until recently. Thankfully, in my core group of friends only half of us are moms with the full spectrum of reasons for having or not having kids. Now we’re all in our 40s, that concept has come up for all of us, and we decide it’s a “girls’ day.” I have to admit, this year was the first I was able to take all the comments in stride. I think finally going off all those meds helped- oh yeah, and losing those 15 pounds I had gained (almost instantly after going off the meds!) really has put me in a good mood lately: no more “infertility butt” and “infertility gut”- that’ll put anyone in a good mood. There is a silver lining! This year, we spent the day shopping for my husband’s new truck– we call it spending our nonexistent child’s college fund. We bought my new car a few months ago when we officially stopped “trying” and realized that I don’t have to hold out to buy the fertilitymobile minivan with the sticker family in the window. (We both were putting bandaids on our 20 year old cars waiting to see what our family needs would be). When the salesperson said I deserved a happy Mother’s Day and lowered the price, we just smiled and thought, “Yep, it’s a great Mother’s Day.” Free treats for moms… I’ll definitely have to remember to help myself next year! =) We all deserve it! Hugs to all for surviving another day!


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