Mother’s Day and the Aftermath: Why I Still Don’t Do It

I quit Mother’s Day 10 years ago when it rolled around 2-3 weeks after the sudden death of my mother. I’ve tried a few times since then. Really, I have. But I still can’t do it.

Even when I became a mother 5 years ago, I still was not interested in Mother’s Day. Although someone apart from my husband and me insisted that my son get me a card one year and it stuck.

Mother’s Day generally is not a good day for me. It comes at the end of the back to back…to back series of significant dates: the anniversary of Mom’s death, her birthday 7 days later, and Mother’s Day roughly the weekend after that. By the time Mother’s Day rolls around, I get points just for getting out of bed, y’all.

I still don’t go to church on Mother’s Day. I’ve tried a few times. It’s too painful. And when you combine that day with the usual baby dedications that occur, I really can’t do it.

Yesterday was no exception. In fact, I spent much of it in tears…probably because of hormones. Probably because I was a dumbass and watched Trouble with the Curve, which hit a teeny weeny bit too close to home. Probably because people keep trying to make me do Mother’s Day. Probably because it marked the end of those three weeks that can be so tough–at least at some point along the way.

People keep telling me it will be different once this baby is born. (People who know I have a son also asked me how my first Mother’s Day was or if I’d gotten any “pre-mommy” gifts…and I had to remind them that I ALREADY AM A MOTHER. But somehow that brand of motherhood is not legit because I didn’t birth the child I have walking around right now. Which is a whole different problem with the prevailing sentiments of the day.)

What people fail to realize is that Mother’s Day will continue to come at the end of what some years is an intensely emotional three-week period. What people may not have considered is that I will not dedicate this baby on Mother’s Day. It’s hard enough to be pregnant and hormonal. Add to that the fact that this baby will not get to know my mother as an actively involved presence in his life and that I will round out this pregnancy and birth without the presence of my mother–to say nothing of parenting this baby without her…I can’t imagine putting all of that together on one day.

I don’t see my sentiment about Mother’s Day changing any time soon. And even if it becomes a day of celebration for me, I will be ever mindful that it is not a day of celebration for many.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t celebrate Mother’s Day. If it’s a good day for you, have at it. The best it has been for me so far is a day in which I again express thanks for the mother I had, for the wisdom she gave me, and for the ways in which she loved me so very well. But I don’t need Mother’s Day for that.

Mother’s Day

Every year I write a post about Mother’s Day and how I don’t really like it–especially in church. This year’s post takes that sentiment, weaves itself into a bigger net, and includes a litany you can use for your Sunday AM worship if it fits your context. Here goes…


God of creation, you have been in the business of birthing your children for generations.

On this day, we thank you for the women who have desired to do the same, who have labored to become mothers through childbirth or adoption. We thank you for the ways in which they teach us to love and care for ourselves and the world around us.

We pray for the women who deeply desire to become mothers but struggle to do so. We ask that you provide hope in the midst of disheartenment and that you remind these women that they are by no means less of a person because of imperfect biology.

We pray for the women who have loved and lost children—for whom this day is fraught with painful reminders of who and what they have lost. We pray that they may encounter you in new and different ways through other children in their lives and find peace.

We thank you for the women who have made a difference in our lives as mothers, who loved and cared for us in the ways you would.

We thank you for the women who have worked to be the best mother possible but whose experiences of parenting have not matched their expectations. We ask that you bolster these mothers, reminding them of the ways in which they lived up to your idea of motherhood.

We thank you for the women who tried to be mothers, who may have failed because they lacked the resources they needed to be present as mother. We pray for those sons and daughters who mourn the mother they are or were not able to have, that they may find in you, and in this community, the deeply loving and nurturing presence they have missed.

We pray for those sons and daughters who are motherless because of disease and death, that they may have a sense of your presence in the midst of their pain and the solace and joy that come with fond memories.

We thank you for the ways in which our lives are shaped by our mothers, by our quest for motherhood, and for motherhood itself.

Above all, Creator, may we all work to be the kind of parent for our children and the children around us that you have been for your children for generations. Help us to look to your Spirit as a guide for being parent—for knowing how to love, when to speak, when to whisper, when to stay quiet, how to play, how to nurture and comfort, and how to be present.

We ask these things of you, in the name of our Brother, Jesus. Amen.


***I’ll also make an attempt at tweaking this for Father’s Day next month. Be on the lookout.

The Annual Mother’s Day Review

Since I’m forced into Mother’s Day on an annual basis, I thought I’d work to embrace it a little more this year. Here’s what that got me:

I actually went to church…and I’m pleased to say it wasn’t bad. My church doesn’t go all out for holidays of the Hallmark variety, and I’m thankful. There was a baby dedication, but it was sweet and very well done. And in the service I didn’t go to (but could hear through the closed office door).

We finally got out of church and went to lunch with the most local parts of the family. The pizza was good. My M-I-L not giving me enough credit for being an adult not so much.

We had the in-laws over for a spell this afternoon–mainly because we didn’t take the gift with us for the mother-in-law. Things were going along until I found it…

The pool that moved in under our kitchen sink.

Once again, we have a leak. And so Al’s dad got under there and made some suggestions…and then Al got to work on that part.

Meanwhile, I did laundry and grocery shopping and returned home to an uber-frustrated husband. He did take a fun(?) picture at some point in the process…but still. There were choice words for the manufacturer. Because a $5 hose is preternaturally connected to the $200 fixture. And we will likely end up paying the latter amount instead of buying a $5 hose.

He’s still ranting about it.

And I? After I post this mess, I will be tending to the laundry. You know…folding a load and putting another into the dryer.

Happy Freaking Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day

Every year I post about Mother’s Day–and how I don’t do it.

I don’t post about the emotional anticipation of the anniversary of Mom’s death that I have starting at the end of February. I don’t post about my awareness of Mom and Dad’s anniversary on April 3. I don’t post about how I remember Mom and care for myself on April 26. I don’t post about how I tend to still be in aftershock one week later on May 3, what would be Mom’s birthday–how I try to come up with a way to celebrate her then…and usually fail. I usually only post about Mother’s Day. Perhaps because I have no say in how that day plays out. I can navigate the rest of the dates on my terms and in ways that are meaningful for me. On Mother’s Day, I have no say. It is foisted upon me whether I want it or not. And usually, I don’t want it.

I tell my people every year that I still don’t do Mother’s Day–even since I’ve become a mother. Yet, I still get cards and the Mother’s Day greetings that make most women happy and honored. This year’s card from the in-laws came on Friday. It was a Hallmark Mahogany card, which make me chuckle a little. It was a typical card from them–very nice and thoughtful, but not what I need or want. Yesterday, I got a card in the mail from a friend who chose a card that was motherly but one where you wrote the message yourself. She told Ryan to “strike a pose” and took a picture of him. She included the picture and focused her note on him and how blessed he was to have me as his mother.

Al and I were on the deck and talking about this whole Mother’s Day thing. I said, “There’s no getting away from this, is there?”

“Nope. Ryan and I really love you and appreciate what you do and we want to let you know that.”

“I get that and I appreciate that. But couldn’t it be on some other day?”

Later on, last night, Al handed me a card and said, “You can open this now. You can open it later. You can put it away and never open it. But I wanted to get this for you.”

I went ahead and opened it. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It acknowledged my not wanting to celebrate but his wanting to let me know how much I mean to him. And I didn’t get it on Mother’s Day.

I asked him later how Ryan got to be so gung ho about Mother’s Day. Al said, “Well…he came to me one day and said, ‘You know Mom’s Day is coming, right, Dad? Well, I have money…and I want to buy her a card.”

Al said, “How can you say no to that?!”

As I wiped away a few tears, I agreed.

I still don’t go to church on Mother’s Day. Instead, I went for a 5 mile run at the lake. The weather was PERFECT and it was the best 5 miles I’d done lately. I thought about Mom and how I wished she were here to join us for the festivities later on today. I think she’d really like the place we’re going for brunch–though she probably wouldn’t get into Iron Man 2 as much. And then I thought about being a mom, and how I haven’t really embraced that part of my identity. I certainly love and care about Ryan. I say he’s mine and ours–because he is. But I don’t usually think of myself as a mom. Until now.

So this Mother’s Day, I’ll allow some recognition of me as a mother. And I’ll embrace it a little, too.