Mother’s Day: From Meh to Arrghh!

mother's day banWe received 46 responses to my recent request for “non-mom” perspectives about Mother’s Day. The differences in opinion stemmed from the circumstances that led to being a non-mom — those who chose not to have children vs. those who wanted children but weren’t able to due to infertility.

Sure there are some — yours truly being one — who find the over-the-top mommy marketing palooza hard to stomach, but other non-moms take a more zen-like approach. Where we have agreement, though, is around the idea that all women — not just mothers — deserve a nod for all they do for their families, communities and the world at large. Here, in their own words, are more thoughts from non-moms on Mother’s Day:

Thank you!! It is nice to see someone willing to acknowledge that there are woman not called ‘mother’ out here. Gritting my teeth is exactly the way I get through it.  Every commercial for mother’s day has me running for the remote control. Any other channel will do. I feel anger at the assumption that all women must be or will become a mother.  My mantra becomes soon another ‘holiday’ will be here and they’ll forget all about this mother’s day business.But it is all around you.  In the magazines, on the TV talk shows, ‘news’ shows, entertainment; talk about who is pregnant, how awful it would be to not experience the wonderfulness of pregnancy and having children.  It seems when the childless woman is mentioned it is as the butt of jokes or with a sad shake of the head, if she gets thought about at all. I wish there was a better way to get through it than Haagen Daas, Hershey’s and trying to close it out of your hearing and your mind. –Lee

I am a married woman who has chosen not to have children. I become irritable during Mothers Day season. I do agree that women who have children have a lot on their plate. However, women who do not have children are also doing great things. We also balance home and work responsibilities, give back to the community in many ways and like to feel appreciated. Why is it that only mothers get cheered on for what they do? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “Woman’s Day” where all women get to be pampered and celebrated for what we contribute to society? By genetics and culture women are programed to be nurturers whether we have children or not. I, for one, want that acknowledged. I volunteer at JA in part to fulfill my need to nurture children. Shouldn’t this count? I plan on having my own private celebration this year.
— Jennifer

I am currently a NON-mom. Not by choice. I just grit my teeth and try to focus on my mom and (my mother in law sort of demands attention).  It’s hard in a way, and I try to do my best to ignore what I can. People don’t get it that it can be a hard day for someone who is trying SO hard to have kids. I also cope by figuring that some day, come hell or high water. I, too, will be a mom!
— Jessica

I do not have children (at least none that I know of!), something that was a conscious choice.  Also, my father died on Mother’s Day.  Because of that, the “holiday” is a non-entity in my life and has been since 1963.  If I do anything that day, I tend to go into nature with my dog, do some meditation, maybe some writing.  It’s a time of chosen solitude with the “mother of us all,” meaning Mother Earth. — Libbe

I have had an exciting and successful career as a model and then as an account executive for some of the top fashion designers. I am happily married to artist Pablo Solomon and we live a wonderful life. However, when I was 18, I was one of the first young women to be diagnosed as having cervical cancer due to my mother being given DES. So I had a hysterectomy which saved my life but prevented my having children. Each mother’s day is a mixed bag. I am thankful that my life was saved, but sad that I never had children. I have devoted my life to my work, my husband and my animals. In a sense, I consider myself to be the mother to my animals and to their environment. 
Beverly Solomon

I am single, have no children and have never been married. I do date. I work in childcare as a nanny as a second job to my business, and I have encountered (sort of a lot) of disrespect from people due to my non-mom and non-married status.This disrespect hasn’t always been outright; some of it was subtle condescension from my former boss when I would bring up the subject of men, (she was married with one child and was also expecting).  I have learned to cope with this by surrounding myself with people who respect me. — Reece

This Non-MOM has two wonderful cousins (more like nephews) and even though I have never gotten an aunt card for mother’s day I know those kids love me and they know I love them. In fact, until reading about your story, I have never even thought about myself on mother’s day–bought the gift and took my mother out to lunch and that’s it…But now that you made me think about it…
— Leslie

I’m a 48 year old, divorcee (do they still say that?!) who’s very happy living her life in LA.  However, most of my clients have kids and there’s advertising in my face EVERYWHERE!  What’s a childless girl to do? I happen to love kids, so I can grin and bear it, but it does make me feel like there’s something not-quite-right about me.  Especially when everyone’s making plans for Mother’s Day.  I’ll be eating frozen yogurt and taking a walk on the beach, I guess!
— Rona

I am not a mother and Mother’s Day has not always been a good day. I do have two  goddaughters, yet godmothers still get left out. Quite a few years ago, I started celebrating women’s day instead. This year I am volunteering teaching tennis in the p.m. and helping with a breast cancer run in the a.m. I do and support events for all women on this day and call/thank my non-mom friends for their support of me over the years. I know that it is not exactly the same — as I am constantly reminded by birth moms. The spiritual/communal ways women exert their motherhood is just as important. I can do things to help my community that moms cannot because they are raising their families. It is still rough, but this is my way of turning the day around.
— Elaine

Mother’s Day reminds me of a lot of other holidays like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, XMas, Father’s Day; many of which are more a recent invention of marketing hype than any particular cultural or historical significance. Personally, I like to focus on celebrations that revolve around an accomplishment or event, like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and things that are not so much dictated to us by society. I find personal celebrations far more memorable and meaningful.
— Jennifer J

Jennifer J:  My better half has a similar take. He refers to what we face today as Holiday Inflation. Where once Mother’s Day was when we made an extra effort to do something thoughtful for our mothers (e.g. make a card or a phone call or send flowers or a trifle), the day has morphed into a compulsory event with the social angst approaching that of Thanksgiving or Xmas. Hallmark, the media and the marketeers have outdone themselves.

Let’s get back to the basics, shall we? I salute all women and their efforts to make the world a better place. Perhaps it’s time to end Mother’s Day and get behind International Women’s Day instead.