Did you know that before it’s current incarnation the idea of Mother’s Day in the U.S. came from two concepts? One of the concepts was to teach women how to properly care for children which totally makes sense to me given how many prep classes we’ve been to in preparation for LilKsby. The other concept was with Mother’s Friendship Day to promote reconciliation and peace among women after the Civil War. The concepts were carried out by Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe. It was the work of Jarvis’ daughter Anna that got Mother’s Day turned into an official holiday in the early 1900’s to continue the original concepts. Later in years, Anna became disgusted with how commercialized Mother’s Day and denounced the commercialization. (For more on the history go here: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day.)
You might be thinking how could anyone feel disgusted on a day designed to celebrate others? I can’t say much about the commercializing causing disgust as it did for Anna, but I can understand it causing disgust for those who feel their reason to celebrate has been torn a sunder.
Like many holidays, Mother’s Day is easy to celebrate when you haven’t experienced loss and grief. For those whom their mothers and grandmothers are still with them, Mother’s Day is a celebratory day. It is a day to uplift the women in their life and recognize the impact they’ve had on their lives. In these cases Mother’s Day is a time of sharing a meal around a table, laughing, and giving thanks.
But what about for those who aren’t so fortunate?
For those who have lost their mothers and grandmothers, Mother’s Day presents a societal reminder of what they are missing every single day. I’ve seen countless friends post on social media about how this holiday isn’t a day of joy for them, but a reminder of the heartache and loss they’ve been experiencing since their loss be it days, months, or years ago. I can’t fathom how much it must hurt to see all the Mother’s Day paraphernalia and propaganda when all you want is to see your mother/grandmother again, hear her voice, hug her, kiss her, and tell her how much you love her. Since I can’t truly understand how this feels, I pray for all of those experiencing sadness on days like Mother’s Day.
For those who find disgust in this day because it directly reminds them that they aren’t mothers, I can empathize with you. Last year, Mother’s Day came just less than three months after our loss, and I spent the whole day feeling punched in the gut and broken. Whenever, I saw people saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to one another and then nothing to me because I didn’t have my child at my side or a growing baby bump, I wanted to scream out that just because my baby was in heaven that didn’t make me any less of a loving mother. But I kept my mouth shut and my pain buried inside (except for in front of my husband who got to see the tears of frustration in private) because we live in a society where talking about things like miscarriage are still taboo for whatever reason. It also hurt seeing all these people on social media wish their daughters, sisters, cousins, friends, etc a “Happy Mother’s Day” because their kids are a visible presence on earth. I know none of this hurt was done intentionally, but it opened my eyes to those who grieve every Mother’s Day. Those women who have gone through miscarriages, failed IVF attempts, failed surrogacy attempts, infertility, and more than most people will ever be able to comprehend hurt so much on Mother’s Day because of all of the extra reminders of how much they want to be a mother and haven’t been able to be one. That hurt is in addition to the pain they feel everyday from the losses they experience because even though you move forward from loss, you never forget it.
For those who’ve had children pass before them, I can’t begin to understand how Mother’s Day must feel for you. I’ve heard there is no loss like the unexpected death of a child. After all, it is engrained in us that the natural order is for parents to go first, but that’s not always what happens. I know how hard it is as a teacher to lose a student, and I know that can’t even hold a candle to how it feels for a parent to lose a child. I imagine that holidays are extremely hard especially when surrounded by so many unintentional reminders of your loss. I pray for you too!
For all of you who are aching on Mother’s Day, here are some words in which I recently found comfort:
For all of you that got to celebrate the day, be thankful and enjoy the time you’ve been gifted. But if you see a woman down in the dumps or obviously putting up a mask, then don’t be judgmental. Simply be mindful about how this day may not be so celebratory.
I love you all!
The Great Kaysby
One thought on “Mother’s Day Musings”
Great article, Kay! I actually made a similar FB post and was so surprised to see a response that someone said it truly opened their eyes. So, I hope your article is helpful to others as well!