When Mother’s Day hurts

Pinkn blossoms_feistyharriet_April 2016

Mother’s Day can be one of the cruelest holidays for women who are unable to easily or naturally conceive a child, for women who have made a choice not to become mothers (yet feel continually judged for said choice), for women who have a turbulent relationship with their own mother, and for women who fulfill a sometimes impossible and lonely role of stepmother.

I am all four of those things.

I hate Mother’s Day.

I do not hate you, my friend who is also a Mom. And I don’t hate your Mom either. I hate all the glowing, fluffy, emotional, social-network-y hubbub surrounding Mother’s Day. I really hate all the pointed advertising and sponsored content for weeks and weeks before to remind us about Mother’s Day, to remind us to celebrate, and appreciate, and buy stuff to let mothers know that they are Important and Appreciated and Valued. The Facebook posts and comments about the joys of motherhood hurt, the rapturous monologues about mothers who are your best friend and role models hurt. All of it hurts.

To be clear, if you post about Mother’s Day I’m not deleting you from my feed reader, nor will I harbor some kind of resentment on your happiness in being a Mom, or having an awesome Mom. I like to think we are better friends than that. Please understand what I’m trying to say. I know that I am on the VERY FAR END of the Mother’s Day Tolerance Spectrum: I’m an outlier. I get it. Hell, even the Olympic Mom commercials don’t get to me, I cannot relate to a lifetime of support and encouragement from my Mom. I am not allowed to fully support and encourage my stepkids because their “Real Mom” is threatened, she thinks I’m intruding and makes it clear that I am unwanted and unnecessary. Years of not relating and being pushed/shoved to the side has made me bitter and probably jealous. I’m not proud of that, but it is the truth. When it comes to mothers I feel like I’m over here in the Untouchable section all by myself. Part of me wants to just skip the internet for the rest of the week, open my feed reader on Monday morning only to immediately mark everything as “read” and then move on with it. The other part of me knows that there are probably women like me, and we should stick together, and even if we don’t know what to say we should at least throw up a white flag we can all flock to, birds of a feather, and all that.

Harriet sig


21 thoughts on “When Mother’s Day hurts

  1. Sigh. I love my mom, and I wish to someday be a mom, and I feel that mothers in general have an exceedingly difficult job that should be celebrated every day, but Mother’s Day is an exhausting and guilt-ridden day regardless. Nothing feels like enough unless you’re sending your mom on a trip to Fiji or something, plus since our families live pretty far in opposite directions, either my mom or Jay’s mom feels left out, or less important than the other. I’m with you on this one. Down with Mother’s Day!


  2. I want you to know, I am only “a half” of these four things, but I still get where you’re coming from and Mother’s Day is really not THAT big of a deal in Germany, so I feel it’s always a bit “blown out of proportion” here anyway 😉

    Hugs, my friend.


  3. Hugs! I hope you have a lovely day on Sunday, free of the hype.

    I think Mother’s Day is a little more complicated for me now that I’m a stepmom. Before, I was just a daughter and completely fine with that, but now I’m stuck in some weird not-quite-a-mom limbo.


  4. This resonates so strongly with me! I have little to no relationship with my mom, she has been giving me the silent treatment for over 20 years, it started, off and on, when I was a child. I refuse to be manipulated by it and would rather have her NOT be a part of my life than cave to her abusive, manipulative behavior. It is hurtful that she has singled me out, she has a normal, loving relationship with my siblings. Ah…it is what it is…my life is more peaceful without her in it. Thank you for a thoughtful post, I am relieved to hear that someone else has a less-than-positive opinion regarding this complicated holiday.


    1. Ugh. I’m so sorry. I get you on the “refuse to be manipulated” and cutting a mother out completely. Totally get it. Difficult at first, I think, but for me it has made every subsequent year MUCH easier. Hugs!



  5. Sometimes I want to squeeze your guts out. I have such mixed emotions about Mother’s Day…not because I necessarily fall into any of those categories (although I did once) but because I know so many people who do. Plus hearing about everyone’s “angel mothers” makes me a) feel like a failure, for angelic I am not, and b) roll my eyes clear to the moon and back, because no woman can live up to that idealized Goddess Mother who people set on a pedestal and who doesn’t really exist.

    Also I will adopt you and make you birthday cakes and paint your toenails and it won’t be awkward at all for me to have a child my age, right?


    1. I’m SUPER late in responding, but thank you. I definitely think women should Take Back Mother’s Day, to each her own.

      I’ll totally be your adopted kid. I’m fully potty trained, do housework when asked nicely, and can even paint YOUR nails moderately well. Yes, this is a brilliant idea. 🙂



  6. I’ve started to have an eye-roll reaction to all of the stuff that valorizes motherhood…and there’s a big part of me that doesn’t like that reaction. I just hate the message that woman = mother, righteous = mother, important = mother. I get it, being a mother is hard and often thankless and a lot of women find validation in all of the videos and articles and books. I’ve just started to zone out when the topic of motherhood comes up. And now with this comment I’m probably going to be cursed to never have kids! I think motherhood is lovely and important and I’d love to experience it one of these days, but that’s not been the hand that has been dealt to me so far, so until then I have other things to focus on.


  7. It’s so moving to read this post and all the comments… such raw honesty is so hard to find. Our culture seems to love forced celebration, and it just TWISTS everything, tries to make it so simple and blindly soothing and soporific.


  8. It is hard. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents these days, but that came after years and years of fighting for some semblance of health and normalcy and after extended periods of non-contact with both of them. And that’s a story that doesn’t fit social media. I tried this time around with my FB post, but I’m still thinking about how we can create space for celebrating people in our lives, but in such a way that it doesn’t alienate whole swaths of people.


    1. I am all about celebrating people, but I feel like the last few years the consumer-based advertising industry has taken over this holiday in ALL the bad ways, and the end result is something…ugly. Do not like.


      On Thu, May 12, 2016 at 10:08 PM, Feisty Harriet wrote:



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