Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

My Bah Humbug to Mother’s Day, But Not to Mother May 2, 2010

Due to circumstances that give no cause for celebration, I will find myself away from home next Sunday, in a country that has already celebrated Mother’s Day, back in March. I’m very glad for the reprieve from the unavoidable Mother’s Day festivities here. Usually on that day I avoid restaurants that might be handing out flowers to all the mothers, and steer clear of stores festooned with gifts I might have liked, had I been a mother. Pretty much I avoid anywhere where I might be at risk of some unsuspecting person innocently wishing me “Happy Mother’s Day” and forcing me to again face the fact that I am not a mother.

But just because I don’t care to celebrate Mother’s Day as a kind of national holiday, doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate my mother on that day, or in my case, in March. I send her a homemade card (because it’s impossible to find a Mother’s Day card in U.S. stores in March), give her a gift that I’ll know she’ll appreciate more than flowers—new cycling gear, or something practical for her garden. If I could choose my mother again from a catalog of all mothers, I’d still pick the same model (maybe with an added “chocolate cake baking” feature), and I wouldn’t dream of not honoring her on Mother’s Day.

But I want to do it in my own way. I want to call her and wish her a happy Mother’s Day, as a private celebration between mother and daughter, and let my brothers celebrate her in their own way, too. To me, Mother’s Day has never been a universal holiday where everything stops to revolve around mothers. It shouldn’t be a day when complete strangers wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. But it is, and I so can’t help feeling like a famous, though unlikable, Dickensian character, when I think: “You keep Mother’s Day in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

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3 Responses to “My Bah Humbug to Mother’s Day, But Not to Mother”

  1. Jennifer Gill Says:

    So true! My mother is Canadian by birth, so perhaps that’s why we escaped a lot of the Hallmark holidays growing up. I’ve had that icky experience too, with strangers wishing me a (quite unwelcoming and triggering, thank you) Happy Mother’s Day. I always just smile and say it back or thank them; I know it’s meant kindly but how I wish they would think a little deeper! My nasty resentful hurt side started calling it “Happy Holy Got-Knocked-Up Day,” not meaning any disrespect to my mother or really any mother, but to the celebration of those who got the joy of motherhood and get honored for it as well. I wish them all joy, and want to be nowhere in public on that day. I feel guilty for that, but as you put it so well, it’s really only about celebrating our own mothers, so being a gracious wallflower isn’t really part of the deal.

  2. lmanterfield Says:

    Jennifer,
    I love your alternative name for the day, although I probably won’t use it either. 🙂

    Gracious wallflower? Ah yes. Too bad that “bitter” and “childless” so often end up in a sentence together. Speaking out seems to suggest bitterness, and so I think we often just bite our tongues instead.

    • Jennifer Gill Says:

      Hey, Lisa! I don’t know if I forgot to click on the notification box, but I just read your response now, darn it all.

      I’m glad you liked my new appellation for the day. And yes, my tongue gets sore from being bitten around that time of year…even more than usual. 😉


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