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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

save your wishes

I have a problem with Mother's Day.

And it has nothing (well, not NOTHING, but not everything) to do with infertility.

This year, I noticed more customer service people wishing women a Happy Mother's Day. This is sweet and all, for those women who are actually mothers. But let's think about this for a moment. Over the years, we have improved our sensitivity when it comes to sending people blanket holiday wishes. The prime example of this, of course, is Christmas. One day, we all woke up and realized that, hey . . . there are many people who don't celebrate Christmas. You wouldn't wish your Jewish friend a Merry Christmas, would you?

No, you wouldn't. So why would you wish a woman a Happy Mother's Day when you have absolutely no idea whether she is a mother? It's presumptuous. It's obnoxious. And frankly, it's downright rude. It's not displaying sensitivity at all.

This isn't just about being infertile. Of course, I notice it because of my infertility. It's about the fact that Mother's Day can be a difficult day for many people. Think about the people who have lost their mothers - recently or not so recently. This holiday is a reminder for those people that they can't pick up the phone and call their mom to wish them a happy day. They can't pick up their mom and take her out to lunch, or send her flowers and gifts of appreciation

Think about the women who have lost children, whether it's a loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, accident, health issue, or some other tragic event. Imagine being wished a Happy Mother's Day when your child has just lost a battle with cancer. Or when your baby's heart has just stopped beating. Maybe these women want holiday wishes; maybe they don't. No one knows, but keep in mind that it may not be easy for them to have a reminder of what they've lost.

Think about the mothers who've placed their babies for adoption. Think about what it might be like for these women to hear those words. Like the women who've lost children, we don't know whether wishing them a Happy Mother's Day is something that's helpful or hurtful. But you wouldn't say it without knowing for sure, would you? You wouldn't just assume.

And yes, think about the women who are infertile. The women who don't, and may never, have a reason to celebrate some random Sunday in May. As if we need another reminder that we're incapable of being mothers. As if we need some other reason to feel alienated as women. Wishing us a Happy Mother's Day does nothing but remind us of the empty spot in our heart that may never be filled.

My problem with Mother's Day is that we simply assume all women celebrate it. Because we assume everyone is a mother to a living child or everyone has a living mother. Because we, as a society, are so mom-centric that we can't look past these points to realize that maybe this holiday isn't a holiday for some.

Instead, it's a nightmare.

11 comments:

Lindsay said...

Love this post because it speaks to people on many levels. I have a mother but never had a close relationship with her,so every mothers day with questions from well meaning people asking what i was doing for mothers day and being surprised when it wasnt a happy go lucky response. You are very right about society being very mom centric,it can feel very discomcerting and frustrated to to keep butting up against these issues,thanks for posting.

MrsMann said...

If we were in church and you were up at the pulpit, I'd be the one screaming "Amen sister!" while dancing around like a crazy person with my arms in the air! =) SO perfectly said!!!

Angela said...

WELL SAID!! In a world where "PC" is the way to be, it's annoying that this was left off the list! I don't remember being wished a happy mother's day any other year. This year I was, and I responded with "Oh, if you mean MOTHER as a verb..." The few people who received my response just stared at me! THANKS for posting!!

Esperanza said...

I had a few people wish me Happy Mother's Day and I definitely thought it was inappropriate. I don't understand why they are doing that. Thank you for articulating what I'm sure many have been feeling.

SabrinaStarr0722 said...

Well said! Thank you so much for posting this!!!

Guillemette said...

I also had a couple people wishing me a happy mother's day ... when I am struggling with infertility AND lost my mother...mostly well meaning people of course! it's amazing how much more sensitive I am now, it even extends to other areas of my life. I use social media but every time I post a picture or a comment, I ask myself if any of my potential reader might be hurt or pained by it... and it makes me decide not to post many times...

Thanks Katie for your courage and strenght!

Tammy said...

I completely agree. Insensitivity is a really big issue at Mother's Day and at many other times as well. I remember you saying at a meeting how we might be surprised to find that we still feel the sting of infertility even if and when we had children . . . and you were absolutely right. I have friends who are planning out when they want to have children and are trying to "time" it, and it stings when they talk to me about it because it's like they forget how difficult it can be for some people and they just assume that it won't be for them. Unfortunately, people just aren't sensitive when it comes to parenthood. There is a long way to go in teaching others about this topic, and you are playing a major role in helping spread awareness.

starfishkittydreams said...

Right on! Mother's Day is hard for lots of reasons. This year was particularly hard for me because of feeling like a failure at trying to become a mother for so many years

Secret Sloper said...

While Mother's Day was finally and joyful day for me, I know too many people who suffer because of IF or the loss of their own mothers to forget the sting.

But I've never had a random clerk wish me Happy Mother's Day (except this year when I was out with Simon). Is that a thing? A Southern thing? It does seem weirdly presumptuous and personal. I'm also not into celebrating mothers other than my own (and my MIL) on that day, anyway.

Waiting Hopefully said...

I think this is a great post. I completely agree with what you wrote. This was my first Mother's Day with a confirmed diagnosis of infertility. It was awful! I don't think people realize how difficult this day can be for women who've lost children, can't have children, or lost mother's. Thanks for spreading the awareness.

Rebecca said...

I agree wholeheartedly. For one thing it is presumptuous. For another, it always feels that this holiday should be more about your own family or women in your life and not a generic thing. It feels more personal and random people wishing happy mothers day just feels like it makes it too impersonal.

Of course part of that for me is having to grin annoyedly through "merry Christmas" all the time... Even when buying Chanukah candles...