Mother's Day Is Complicated

I don’t need a special day of acknowledgment. Nor do I want it, as a bereaved mother

watercolor sunflowers in a white vase
Image created via Midjourney

I’m in bed right now. My kids (with the charge led by my 12-year-old) wanted to bring me breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. They made apple cheddar biscuits and pancakes. And though I heard a lot of squabbling while the food assembly was going on, they were quite proud of themselves when they brought me the results. Then all three kids brought up (unexpectedly) brought up their own plates of food and ate in bed with me — while I prayed that nothing would spill on the comforter.

Yet even with all of the attention and encouragement from my husband to “take it easy” today, I can’t shake the unease I have with Mother’s Day. And it’s not only because the day brings me so much sadness as a bereaved mother.

It’s because, as I’ve gotten older, I wonder: what are we really celebrating?

Writer Anne Lamott says the following in her annual Mother’s Day post:

No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior.

Anne Lamott

Journalist Lyz Lenz takes the sentiment a step further:

This year, as a special fuck you to mothers in America, Congress refused to renew the Child Care Tax Credit and SCOTUS is posed to rescind abortion rights.

Lyz Lenz

Being a woman in this country sucks right now.

We survived a pandemic, barely intact, a mere shell of ourselves. We were pulled between work and childcare, and some women were forced to choose between their careers and their family. After decades of fighting for progress, we are falling back to old ways, old mentalities, and an old hierarchy of women as second-class citizens.

Mother’s Day feels like barely an acknowledgment. Society says, “Here, enjoy some flowers and a few hours of appreciation in exchange for 364 days of making sure that everything keeps running smoothly.” How about some actual SUPPORT for women and families instead? How about making childcare affordable, paid family leave, flexible work, and bodily autonomy?

This day is important only because it reminds me of the enormous responsibilities I have as a parent. I will make my kids aware that Mother’s Day is complicated. I am obligated to fight, so that the next generations of mothers has it easier than my generation.

But I don’t need a special day of acknowledgment. Nor do I want it, as a bereaved mother who struggles with this day emotionally and as a woman in this country who is watching her fundamental rights being stripped away.

I love my kids to the ends of the earth and back. When they brought me apple cheddar biscuits this morning, my heart was bursting with love for them. They wanted to do something nice for me and collaborated to make it happen. I am so proud of them.