Mother’s Day should be about more than fluffy slippers and breakfast in bed, or an obligatory family get together. Because motherhood is a profound element in all women’s lives – whether you are a mother or not.
There wouldn’t be a woman alive who had no deep feelings about motherhood. Whether or not she has had children of her own, she has had a mother. She has thought about becoming a mother. She has most likely made concerted efforts to avoid and possibly to become a mother. She has fielded a landslide of questions, comments, advice and insinuations on the topic.
Motherhood is an intense and profound experience that all women share. We all have joy and sorrow and laughter and rage when it comes to our experience of being mothered. Of becoming a mother. Of wanting desperately to be a mother. Of losing a baby. Of choosing to end a pregnancy. Of birthing. Of being unsure if we want to be a mother. Of giving up hope that we’ll ever be a mother. Of loving being a mother, of hating it, of being ambivalent, of struggling, of regretting it, of missing out on jobs and opportunities because of the realities or assumptions about our ‘mother status’. Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate. Grieve. Laugh and cry together. Bare the wounds to the light to help heal ourselves and each other.
This Mother's Day, remember all the different things that make our mums special. Image iStock.
Mother’s Day, is, according to the glossy, carefully constructed images of advertisers, a day to present mum with a new pair of fluffy slippers, some cosy pyjamas, a day spa voucher, a bunch of flowers, lunch out somewhere (let us not even speak of the ‘gift’ of a new cleaning appliance or hair removal gadget). For most mums with young children in this country and many others, it’s something of this nature along with the sweet and clumsy efforts of little hands in producing cards and craft, and perhaps a visit to or a meal with our own mother or mother in law.
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I’m all for the new slippers, the brekkie in bed and as an unashamedly sentimental sook, the items made by my children are especially treasured. A day spa treatment? Absolutely! Lunch somewhere nice? Love to! You drive, because I’m having a champagne or two, and then I might just have a little nap when we get home. I look forward to and relish Mother’s Day.
Yet the way we celebrate Mother’s Day only connects with a small part of the experience of motherhood - the cosy, cuddly, domestic, sweetness and light part. The larger and more profound part is entirely neglected. The raw, intense, euphoric and brutal truth of motherhood gets no mention. Nor do the large group of women for whom motherhood was not possible or not wanted. The pain of women whose own mothers have died, and those who are estranged from their adult children, and those who have only pain and heartache in their relationship with their own mother. Mother’s Day is salt in the wound for them, when it could be a chance to heal.
So there is both an opportunity and a pressing need for us to reshape the day into something far more meaningful, real and helpful. It’s time we gave this day a serious makeover, and not allowed it to be constructed only by those with an interest in turning a profit. Motherhood is fire and lightning and the most intense, blood and guts, life and death thing, the most intense transformation of the human heart. To mark and honour it only with flowers and chocolates reduces it from this to something really rather insignificant.