Are You a Childless Woman Who Complains About Mother’s Day? Please Reconsider!

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.

By | 2018-05-12T03:27:21+00:00 May 12th, 2018|Family|

9 Comments

  1. WSquared August 21, 2018 at 5:56 am - Reply

    Yikes. On the one hand, there was no need for them to insist that the parish stop prayers for moms on Mother’s Day. On the other hand, I get it. That pain is very real– it can stem from fears of inadequacy, of fears of being unloved by God or having done something wrong, fear that a lack of a child makes one a bad Catholic, loneliness, or in some cases, a problematic relationship with one’s own mother or even in-laws (especially if they’ve been harping about desiring grandchildren). A lot of people don’t know how to identify let alone confront those sorts of things honestly or pray about them. And it’s not like many people in the parish address those fears or that sadness publicly, either: just a “suck it up and deal,” and some form of “mothers are on the front lines in the culture war right now.”

    Those things don’t have to be addressed on Mother’s Day, but they should be addressed. Perhaps the Sunday before Mother’s Day might be a good time. Because it can seem as though only certain kinds of crosses and blessings “count” for anything in the Church, when that’s just not true. And I’m afraid to have to say, Kathy, that when I was struggling through and praying through those feelings myself years ago, I’m glad I didn’t read your post or anything resembling it. Instead, I had friends who were there for me, who are themselves childless, who shared their experiences with sensitivity, thus helping me respect my feelings and then look beyond them for the sake of others, and ultimately to focus on God. The fact is that I didn’t know how to see beyond my own pain until others showed me how. People who behave in self-centered ways often can’t love others as they ought because they’ve forgotten how much God loves them, or perhaps they never knew and need to find out. You can’t expect them to give what they don’t have, but you might lead them to the very source of love so that they one day can. Ultimately, it’s participating in the life of God so that we may live and love as he does. Thomstic metaphysics isn’t just for intellectuals, nerds, and geeks. 🙂

    What can free a person up to be genuinely happy for others, instead of pretending that they are while they’re actually sad or seething with jealousy or envy, though, is to confront all of those things in Adoration and in the Confessional. There, they learn that God loves them and knows their pain and is with them in it. So does focusing on Mary and on spiritual motherhood. Spiritual motherhood is also important, which is what’s demanded of biological and adoptive mothers, also, and isn’t just some consolation prize for the infertile or the childless. I’ve always been grateful for the Church’s respect for virginity and celibacy for that reason. But perhaps most important of all is that God gives everyone the necessary grace as well as something different for their salvation: just because he gives good things to others does not mean that there isn’t plenty more to go around. And a child or many might be what God gives one couple for their salvation, while he gives another something else, even infertility. God can get creative when it comes to variety. Infertility is not a good in and of itself; it sucks. But it’s part of carrying the Cross, and Jesus is with us when we suffer, even as it seems that other people are not.

    By the way, I can’t help but notice that so many people who tell infertile women to just get over it or “think of mothers” are those who got to have kids. If you have kids, please don’t be one of those. Taking care of kids is hard work that does go unappreciated and unsung– and those who long for children but can’t have them not only realize that, but were looking forward to doing that work, themselves. Good grief: if you can’t or won’t help someone carry their cross as they try to sort through the many lies both the culture and other Catholics stupidly tell them (and you know they do; any combox conversation about NFP gets nasty really quickly), then at least try not to make that cross heavier for them.

    In the end, children are a gift, too, in a culture that would alternately kill them in the womb if they aren’t wanted, treat them like a burden or an annoyance, or treat them like trophies if they are wanted. And you might be aware that our culture and society isn’t just cruel to mothers and children; it’s cruel to just about anyone who doesn’t “fit the mold” in some way, and what folks who fall into that category desperately want to know is that the Church thinks differently and that God wants them. Catholicism not being the Prosperity Gospel means that “doing everything right” doesn’t necessarily get you what you want, in that being blessed by God doesn’t necessarily materialize in the form of having nicer things. Rather, God’s plan is better, even if it’s a lot weirder.

    Xavier. Perhaps what other women struggle with is that we have a culture that will also tell the infertile woman that she’s failed as a woman for not being able to have children. I don’t know if your wife struggled with this, but some other women do. Catholics don’t need to perpetuate that lie and can help a woman by recognizing that that’s what she might be struggling with. Infertility is not a “special blessing.” As if it’s a good in its own right. No, it isn’t. But it is indeed part of the Cross, and Jesus is in that suffering with us and will use it to transform us if we let him. We don’t just carry our Cross with him; he carries ours with us. Moreover, God doesn’t cause suffering without bringing a greater good out of it. Ultimately, regardless of how many children we have or don’t have, God wants us to have HIM. And like Mary, we are to bear him to others.

  2. Carla May 14, 2018 at 6:19 am - Reply

    I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to comment. I was one of the women left sitting in the pew while the mothers all stood and got a special blessing. Yes, it’s a little awkward, since everyone wants to be part of the “in crowd” (which today was mothers). But I get that same awkward feeling when they ask the military, police, or other first responders to stand, because I’m not part of that crowd either. When they ask people who have been married for over 40 yrs to stand, THEN I can stand up! I agree with Kathy, God Bless mothers for being mothers, especially today.

  3. Manny May 14, 2018 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Well said Kathy. Happy Mother’s Day!

  4. heather dubrow instagram May 13, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

    God bless everyone mother. mother is a precious gift.

  5. Jemimah May 13, 2018 at 8:54 am - Reply

    I think that when Mom’s are honored by standing up in church for a special blessing is fine; except for those women who are left seated. It’s hurtful, not because they lack children but because they are ‘exposed’ for having failed in procreating. I have never observed any seated woman sobbing. And no, that doesn’t mean they would be in favor of a trophy for every child in a spelling bee. How did that comment even get into this article? Thoughtless.

  6. Xavier May 13, 2018 at 2:29 am - Reply

    It must be mentioned, motherhood is a blessing and gift, not a right. Infertility too is a special blessing, because he or she is taking the cross of Jesus Christ. Take the cross for Christ, as there were not many with Him when He carried the cross. When my wife and I took a class on infertility in our church, we made this point very clear – your life’s primary purpose is to be with Christ and receive whatever He wishes of you.

  7. Micah Rudd May 12, 2018 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    God bless all mothers and the Church!

  8. nora May 12, 2018 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    whew this is condescending as ever

  9. […] sum up the piece, which can be found here, the author exhorts “well intentioned” and “good Christian women” who are “un-mothers” […]

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