I’m starting to loathe Mother’s Day

Guest post by Julia Renee
By: lindsaydeebunny – CC BY 2.0
By: lindsaydeebunnyCC BY 2.0

It’s not because I don’t appreciate my mother, my sister, my aunts and grandmothers (because they’re awesome and superheroes), and not even because it generally means that we have to spend mornings with one family and afternoons with another family (even though said families are 50 miles apart). Mostly, I loathe Mother’s Day because it is a reminder that I am not and likely never will be a mother.

I’ve started becoming a recluse on Mother’s Day weekend. I’m of an age where it’s assumed I am a mother and am generally given a cheery “Happy Mother’s Day” by every retail clerk with whom I come into contact (yes, even though there are no children with me). The issue is that I am not and I, in my over-abundant need to be truthful, feel uncomfortable allowing it to slide with a simple “thank you.” But I don’t really want to break into tears and shout that I don’t deserve this particular salutation.

If I were one to characterize myself as “child-free” perhaps I could go on a rant about sexism, ageism, and the societal norms involved in assuming I’m a mother because I’m of a certain age or I can quote Anne Lamott, and state that “Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.” But the poor schmuck behind the counter at Target who is just trying to be nice doesn’t deserve that any more than I deserve to feel shame because I am not a mother.

But I’m not there yet. I’m not at that point where I’m content in the knowledge that I won’t have a child of my own. I’m still blindly hoping that I’ll get pregnant by a miracle. In the meantime, I’m trying to acknowledge all those feelings that come up and deal with them as they appear, which includes the gratitude for my family for acknowledging me for my role as “aunt.”

It’s rough, though, because mourning the loss of what isn’t, and will likely never be, is something that’s hard to explain to others, and harder still when it’s been going on for years.

Until I can get to the point where I can appreciate my childlessness or see the Universe’s higher purpose for not giving me children, Mother’s Day will be difficult. In the meantime, I can only hope that I can continue to hold my tongue when some well-intentioned retail worker wishes me a Happy Mother’s Day.

Either child-free by choice or not, how do you deal with being told “Happy Mother’s Day” when you’re, um, NOT a mother? Awkward…

Comments on I’m starting to loathe Mother’s Day

  1. This past Sunday was the weirdest Mother’s Day I ever had. When I wished her a “Happy Mother’s Day”, my grandma said “Soon you’ll be a mom too!”. I haven’t really decided about kids yet, I haven’t even been married yet a year, and GOOD LORD. I just went “Uhhh, bluh, gurrllgh” and ran away. THEN she started talking to my husband about how kids are the greatest gift in the world and are the one thing that gives your life meaning. They were standing right next to my aunt who has never married nor had kids.

    Said aunt is awesome though, and she said that she has actually had a very fulfilling life. When we left, she said, “Happy being a mother to your cat and hedgehog!”, which was awesome. I’m really glad I got her a mother’s day card (did you know they make them for aunts AND just other women in your life? Papyrus had a fantastic amount!)

  2. I’m sorry that you get hurt so often by the unintentionally insensitive. I do have to say though, that as someone who has been that retail employee who unintentionally hurts people with general customer service greetings and such, it is totally ok for you to reply with a serious face and a firm, “I’m not a mother.” Unless the person on the other side of the counter is a complete idiot, that will likely make them think about how their words can affect people.

    (Yes, I had many learning experiences on the other side of the counter. I consider it a good thing.)

  3. This past Mother’s Day I had a random guy in the neighborhood who was doing something with his car call “Happy Mother’s Day!!” to me as I walked by. I was surprised and baffled and replied “uh…thanks”. He then called “you’re a mom, aren’t you?”, “Nope”, I replied, “I’m a mom of cats”. Then I proceeded to my church job (I’m a cantor at a Catholic church) where the priest wanted all mothers and “potential mothers” to stand for a blessing at the end of the service”. These grated on my nerves a bit, because while married, I am not a mother and the older I can, have no desire to be, and so I experience things like that as people telling me that my life isn’t “complete” or “correct” unless I’m a mother.
    It’s very odd that there’s a trend towards wishing “Happy Mother’s Day” to strangers who don’t even have children with them, and I think it’s fine to say something, even just politely stating, ‘thank you, but I’m not a mother’, if it will discourage this from becoming widespread! 🙂 It’s not very considerate towards women who are without children, either by choice, or who would really like a child and can’t have one. Of course, part of me is also tempted to start wishing random men “Happy Father’s Day!” and see how they like it. 😉

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