This year, social media platforms such as Facebook have hosted a groundswell of complaints regarding Mother’s Day. Most of the hard feelings, it seems, come from good Christian women who, for one reason or another, do not have children of their own. Perhaps they are struggling with infertility; or they regret their abortion; or they have never married; or they’ve lost a son or daughter in childbirth or early in childhood.
What these women have in common, though, is their expressed discomfort with the idea of celebrating Mother’s Day in any big way. Ask mothers to stand during Mass for a special blessing? They feel like sobbing in the pew. Send flowers, talk about motherhood on the radio, plan a special dinner with the family? The un-mothers are grieving in their aloneness.
While I sympathize with their eagerness to hold a newborn close to their chest, I urge these well-intentioned women to cease this emergent anti-Mother’s Day campaign, to rethink their perspective. If they don’t, they’ll join the ranks of other protestors who want to give a trophy to every kid in the Spelling Bee, to end every game in the t-ball league with a tie, to pay every employee the same wage despite their diverse contributions to their organization.
Holidays have specific purposes: Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, and Muslims should not be offended if their spiritual leader is not feted on that day. Father’s Day honors men who are fathers, and who have sacrificed income and leisure time to share parenting responsibilities with their spouses.
And Mother’s Day? Sorry, but it’s intended as an opportunity to honor women who are mothers for the many contributions they’ve made: bearing morning sickness and backaches and the pains of labor, then sacrificing sleep to nurse a fussy child, then giving up a promising career to nurture the child God has given them or, if they choose to work or if they cannot afford the luxury of staying home, then handling a double-shift of office work plus parenting.
Our society has done so much to hurt mothers: Implying that their work is somehow less important because they don’t draw a paycheck. Besmirching their mommy jeans or their easy-care hairdos. De-valuing the critically important work they do to raise the next generation of upright citizens. Please don’t, by your resentment and your insistence on sharing in the glory of the day, take away from the credit due to women who have endured both the joys and the hardships of motherhood. Don’t make this weekend about you.
And please don’t worry that because God hasn’t blessed you with the gift of motherhood, your life doesn’t have value. You may have more time than a busy homemaker to reach out and help others. You can share your love with other people’s children – as an aunt, a sister, a caring neighbor. You can pray that God will grant your wish for a child of your womb; but if that’s not His will for you, the best thing you can do is discern what IS your calling, then live it joyfully.
And please don’t, by your attitude or your bitter self-focus, take away from the one-day celebration of mothers, whose job is often thankless, yet critically important to the future of society and the salvation of souls. Share in their joy, share in the celebration, share in the community’s prayer that God will bless them as they seek to raise children for His glory. Share the work, and help their children to learn respect and love and to make cut-out hearts for mom.
Make it a great day, even if you’re not a mother.