Mother’s Day Without My Mother


My beloved Mum

We are celebrating Mother’s Day today in Ireland, a day I have been dreading all week. And yet, this day is no different from yesterday or the day before, or any day before that – every day is mother’s day without my mother, for every day I miss her.

Maybe I’m just curmudgeonly, but  the older I get the more weary I grow of these forced days (Valentine’s Day is another) when we feel obligated to buy over priced flowers and effect some annual display of gratitude to people who deserve our gratitude, love and caring every day.

Or maybe, the real reason behind my cynicism is because for me Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of not being a mother myself.  Writer Anne Lamott in a 2010 Salon article Why I Hate Mother’s Day sums up my feelings when she writes:

I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark.

Mother’s Day is also a painful day for those for whom Alzheimer’s and dementia have changed the mothers they once knew into strangers. I also know that those who have a difficult relationship with their mothers find this is a hard day to cope with too. And what of the mothers themselves? Those mothers who have lost children, those who have difficult relationships with their own children?

So, today I am making an appeal on behalf of all who find this day painful for whatever reason. Please deal compassionately with your family members and friends who are struggling today with feelings of sadness and loss. Hallmark makes money on people feeling guilty about what they “should” be doing on this day. But what if we also thought of this day as a day to send a thoughtful text, email or make a phone call to those for whom this day is difficult; or why not send a little gift or card to those women who have been substitute mothers to us? Could we reclaim this day in some way so that all women feel included?

And just to prove that I am not all bah! humbug! about this day, to those  of you for whom this day is a celebration, celebrate it whole-heatedly. Embrace your mother, embrace your children, and to quote Rumi “wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving”.

Just make sure you remember to do the same thing every day!

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