On Mother’s Day, we celebrate our first human connection, the sacred bond between mother and child. We’ll see ads and social media posts everywhere this weekend. Some friends will share old photos of their moms, while others will write tributes to their mothers. The people we know who are moms themselves will post pictures of roses and eggs Benedict, and presents, some quite lavish, bestowed on them by an appreciative nuclear family that looks like something from a 1950s sitcom. There will be posts from husbands tagging their wives, announcing their reverence for the hard work the women in their lives do every day.
But what if none of these pictures and posts look anything like you or your life, your relationship with your family, or your own mother? What if it feels like Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate everything you aren’t, or don’t have, or can’t have? Some may ask “why isn’t that me or my life?”
The vast majority of us don’t look anything like the images we see. Those pictures are an illusion. They are carefully curated advertisements, or they’re filtered snapshots of lives that don’t tell the whole story. Our lives are much more complicated and nuanced, and when that’s the case, Mother’s Day can be particularly triggering and sharp-edged. It can be very tough on a lot of people for a variety of reasons - be it their relationship with their own mothers, or their roles as mothers themselves.
There are so many out there who will not be having a “perfect” day and who will not be tagged in gushing statuses, who will not get jewelry, or bouquets, or days at the spa, and I keep thinking about them.
I see you and you are not alone. Let me tell you something. This isn’t a day to slump on a lonely periphery of exclusion or victimhood. This isn’t a day to hide in shame, regret, could haves, or should haves. You don’t have to sit this one out, hoping next year something will have changed. This is your day too.
I want to say Happy Mother's Day to the people who lost children, can't have children, don't even want any children, had their children taken away. This is for every failed IVF treatment, every fallen through adoption, every unviable or terminated pregnancy.
I even want to wish the moms of dogs and cats and ferrets and chickens a Happy Mother's Day. I know you get left out a lot, and the love you give to babies with fur and four legs or feathers or scales is valid and real.
I send my love to every single one of you who has a complicated, non-brunchable sort of relationship with your own mom. This is for those of you whose mothers were a mess, whose moms were and still are a pain, for the motherless, the sons and daughters of the mothers who couldn't get it together, or who couldn't be Carol Brady or Maggie Seaver for you growing up because they struggled with addiction or could never get a grip on their mental health.
My Mother's Day wishes go out to everyone who is sad and feels alone, everyone who is burdened by guilt, or feels inadequate, to the sisters swimming through grief and loss of anything or anyone. This is for the sons and daughters with the wicked stepmoms, the children of narcissists and zealots or mothers who were so brainwashed by their ideologies that they simply could not accept the beauty of the child they made exactly the way they are.
And how agonizing is this day on those who have lost their mothers? Let us hold space for you on Mother’s Day too. My wish for you is that this will not be a day to dwell in the pain of the past, in the hurtful moments, and the vacuum of loss. May you find comfort, support and peace.
This is also for the ones who deal with Baby Mama Drama, the single moms, the ones who get no help, no cards, no lilies in a vase, the ones whose low down, no good men are in jail for domestic violence. This is for the cheated on, the ghosted, the left behind, broken-hearted ones, the girls who said “I’m pregnant” only to have him turn his back forever. This is for the mothers who needed restraining orders, and for the side-pieces waiting by the phone. Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers who are incarcerated and can’t be with their children. To every mother who has received nothing but judgment, you are doing your best and it’s your day too.
The world may tell you that you aren’t a mother, that you can’t be a mother, that you don’t fit their definition of what a mother is, does, or looks like. This day is for all of you. Not everyone is against you. We raise you up too. Aunts, foster mothers, adopted mothers, bio moms, grandmothers who raised their grandbabies, older siblings who raised younger siblings because they had no choice, mothers who made the hardest choices and did what they thought was best. All bearers of nurturing motherly love, regardless of sex or gender, I praise you.
Listen to me. I got you. You are the strong ones. You are survivors who are part of a proud kinship of bravery, and Mother’s Day is your day too. Mother’s Day isn’t just for people who fit into a certain, tiny, and terribly specific mold. Those people are very few and far between. Your struggle forges your character and that doesn’t usually show up in a nicely filtered Instagram picture. You are real life, Mama. I commend you.
Mother’s Day can be hard because the relationships we have with our mothers are intricate, layered, and multi-faceted. The way we define motherhood is often too narrow and unintentionally hurts those who fall outside of that definition. Our expectations of what the mother/child bond should be set us up for sadness and a perception of lack. If you aren’t perfect, if you don’t live up to some arbitrary standard, if things didn’t always go as planned or expected when it came to mothering or being mothered, make a choice to accept yourself and your connection to the mother energy of the universe. You may not get a gift or a card. You might not get to be with your mother. You may not receive the acceptance and forgiveness that you should, but honor yourself no matter what, because we are all worthy. Mother’s Day is for you too.