Hallmark’s business model is to make sure there’s a holiday to celebrate every month. If there’s not a legit holiday they tend to make one up so they can sell some cards, which have exponentially increased in price to induce sticker shock and drive the frugal shopper to visit the dollar store for their holiday card purchases. Anyway, we just celebrated Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week, and Father’s Day and Children’s Day are just on the horizon. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with celebrating one another with cards, gifts and such, it must be acknowledged that not every holiday is a “hallmark moment”. In fact, many holidays are difficult and traumatic for some people. While others sometimes have no connection to the holiday being celebrated. Although everyone ever born was born through the womb of a woman, motherhood is not always defined by the actual birthing of a baby. In fact, many, many children are nurtured and raised by women and men whose DNA they do not share. It needs to be recognized that you do not have to have a womb to be a mother. When an individual has been “mothered” they know it. When they have been nurtured and taught life’s lessons through trials and tribulations, they know it. And what they know is This. Whether the person doing the mothering is a person who pushed them into the world by the contractions of the birthing process, or if they simply chose to be their mother, guide, teacher, nurturer and protector in this world is unimportant. What’s most important is that they belong to somebody who has invested in them, time, attention, commitment, and love. What’s important is that they have been “Mothered.”
What must also be acknowledged is that for some people, Mother’s Day is a reminder of loss or the recognition that they were never really “mothered”, at least not by someone wanting to embrace the title, commitment or responsibility of motherhood. Mother’s Day is not a “hallmark moment” for these people. For others it reminds them of the traumatic loss of their own mother who may or may not have had the opportunity or time to actually BE a mother. Others may have lost children in miscarriage(s) or suffer from infertility, so Mother’s Day is extremely triggering to them. Many women also grieve that they don’t want to be mothers and feel a certain level of guilt or shame around that choice as relatives and friends, however well meaning, constantly remind them with comments, looks or coded language that somehow they are “missing something” or not “real women” simply because they choose NOT to be a mother. Motherhood is not always a role that many women choose to embrace and contrary to the definitions often touted by the “Culture of Patriarchy” our society embeds itself within, these women are labeled as somehow abnormal. When are we going to stop insisting that people fill the roles and responsibilities dictated to them, by a society built on racism, sexism, patriarchy and misogyny? For a country that loves to recognize itself as progressive and forward thinking, we STILL have a long way to go. Side note: We have not even passed the Equal Rights Amendment! It STILL has not been ratified and signed into law after over 40 years!
As we move on to the next holiday to be celebrated, let us remember that every holiday is NOT a “hallmark moment” for everyone. Some of the BIG holidays we celebrate have extremely complex and sometimes painful memories and experiences attached to them. As we engage in our celebrations, let us also hold space for those for whom the holiday we are celebrating brings up traumatic, sad or dysfunctional experiences that profoundly affects them. This is not to in any way diminish your own celebrations! We need to celebrate! We MUST celebrate. Just keep in mind that Not every holiday is a celebratory event for many people. In fact, the holiday itself may bring them a sense of dread or disconnection. Perhaps find ways to include those people too in whatever your celebration may be!