Well, it’s here, the day I wrote about both loving and dreading. I woke up lazily, knowing I would have hours to myself before my 16-year-old son wakes up. I cuddled my dog, watered my plants, stepped out on the balcony. Thrilled at the idea of reading my new book, but then knew I had to write.
Mother’s Day is so complicated for so many. And sharing stories, as I argued we should, IS important. But as I saw a message from another mother this morning wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day, I reflected on how, for awhile now, many women have been shifting the discourse away from having the men or children in their lives celebrate them, and turning to women, instead - women who know all too well what the day, and often the title, has meant to them.
Take, for example, the fact that one of my earliest thoughts this morning was to turn to a friend who has suffered a miscarriage. A mother who does not get the recognition she deserves year-round, in particular deserves to receive a message from others on a day like today. My next thought turned to a woman who suffered multiple miscarriages many years ago - again, she needs others to reach out. My next thoughts went to the fellow single mothers in my life - some who, like me, raised their baby on their own from the get-go, and others who lost their partners somewhere along the way.
But of course, I also message the other mothers in my life who come from traditional family structures, full well knowing that many of these friends also have complicated interactions with the day, and that some will not get the recognition they deserve from their partners or children, either.
I have long participated in the wishing of other women a Happy Mother’s Day. But recently, another mother pointed out that we can wish ourselves a Happy Mother’s Day, too.
In practice, this has been something I have done to varying degrees in the past. I have told myself many a time that I will be doing something nice for myself on this day. I have bought myself flowers, and books, and attempted to participate in that more consumeristic version of what it means to celebrate a person (even though anyone who knows me knows I am highly critical of consumerism. Go figure).
I think, though, that I was trying as best I could to insert myself into the narrative of what it looks like to celebrate a mother on this day. But as I have learned this week, even the woman who created Mother’s Day made a push to dismantle it when she saw that it had become another Hallmark holiday.
So yes, we should continue to share our stories and alter the dominant discourses around Motherhood and Mother’s Day in order to be more inclusive. I also think that the simple act of not only appreciating our fellow mothers but OURSELVES as mothers is part of the shift, too.
What does it look like to appreciate ourselves?
I think it can look like flowers and books (or whatever other treat we might enjoy). But maybe, it can also look like a chance to slow down and take stock. Perhaps:
Regardless of how you choose to spend this day - I hope that you find some space in it to appreciate yourself, and honour the person that you are. Happy Mother's Day.