Is North American Mother’s Day Going Out of Style?
This thought has been on my mind for years. I didn’t feel I had the ‘right’ to voice my opinion since I, myself was not a mother. Yet here I am now, a mother to a beautiful, hilarious, spunky, outgoing little guy. With this day inching closer and closer and I can’t help but notice that this feeling is still there.
Before I became a mama, this day brought on a lot of stress. My relationship with my mother has been complex my entire life. Although its only been the recent past few years that I’ve truly started to understand it. Mother’s day along with other holidays have always been hard on our family. I love my mother of course! But, that doesn’t take away from the very real pain that has been caused by her and her actions. I grew up in a house where love and affection were shown through jealousy, anger and frustration. I’ve found it increasingly hard over the years to express my love and gratitude. Not because it wasn’t there, but because that’s just not how our family operated. When my parents would start to sense real emotion or vulnerability I would get met with judgment and shame. I started to get used to being met with a hostile reaction no matter the effort made.
It became a natural survival response for me to just stop feeling and showing any and all emotions. So days dedicated to being emotional with the ones you love became a huge trigger for me.
Coming into this mothers day I am currently not speaking to my mom. This is a boundary that had to be set after a lifetime of trying every other option. I thought relinquishing that pressure would help allow myself to enjoy this day; but as it turns out, it only seems to be highlighting the pain caused by loosing that relationship.
The thing is, even in a family that looked happy on the outside, that played all the right cards. Before I was even aware of how much I had been suppressing and the amount of pain I was in; this day was and always has been hard for me. But this is just one story. My mother-in-law passed in 2012 after years of battling breast cancer. My sister along with many others is apart of LGBTQ. There are many parents that have lost a child and children that are born into various circumstances that makes this day extremely hard. A day dedicated to one specific type of relationship often leads to severe mental health relapses.
This got me thinking, how many people truly enjoy celebrating these days? How many people does this day actually bring excitement, joy, happiness, appreciation and love? I’m starting to think that its not as many as we think it is.
Mother’s day last year was an interesting one. In the weeks leading up to the day I was extremely anxious and stressed out. I chose to drop something small off the day before. There’s always a level of expectation for these holidays and I knew I wasn’t meeting that expectation. Not meeting expectation often gets turned around later to prove lack of gratitude and love.
On mother’s day a meme went around that said “accidentally said happy mothers day to my mom in person rather than writing a paragraph on social media”. I shared it. This was a a calculated move on my behalf. My anxiety was high on that Sunday. I struggled to write my heart out as I was in so much pain by her actions. In our household we were taught that you can’t be grateful and hurt at the same time. But I was. So when I saw this meme, I saw an opportunity to get the message across and save face a bit.
This is a level of thinking that a lot of people can’t understand. Being raised in an emotionally abusive household where gaslighting, manipulation, criticism, name calling, silent treatment, withholding affections etc forces you to think of survival techniques that are subtle yet outside the box. I’d do anything for peace, quiet and safety.
An acquaintance who had lost her mother whom she was very close with got triggered by the meme, understandably so. She expressed she would do anything to voice her love and appreciation to her mother in person rather than social media. Of course I don’t blame her. Neither of us were wrong, but both of us couldn’t enjoy this day. We were getting triggered by it constantly.
Mothers day, fathers day, family day, valentines day… these are all based around pausing for the day and appreciating the ones around us but why are we being worked to the point where we can’t even show appreciation daily to the ones we love? Why are we focused so much on medicating rather than healing, posting rather than communicating?
I got curious about the day. We often hear people refer to these types of holidays as “Hallmark” holidays. They’ve been a huge driving force for consumerism in North American society, yet I wasn’t sure where, how or who began this.
History of Mother’s Day
“Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honouring family members, such as Father’s Day, Siblings Day, and Grandparents Day.
The modern Mother’s Day began in the United States, at the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century. It is not directly related to the many traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have existed throughout the world over thousands of years….The American version of Mother’s Day has been criticized for having become too commercialized. Founder Jarvis herself regretted this commercialism and expressed that this was never her intention…
Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. She and another peace activist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe had been urging for the creation of a Mother’s Day dedicated to peace…
Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit.” VIA Wikipedia
Its pretty sad to see what the vision of this day once was compared to what it has turned into today. What was supposed to be a place to address maternal bonds, motherhood, public health issues, peace and appreciation, turned into a day forcing us to buy presents, cards and candy. Spend money on brunches and mimosas and post lengthy captions reiterating the exact same thing as the next person.
It’s also important to note that this holiday was started in 1905, 116 years ago! I think its safe to say that a lot has changed since then. We have become more educated around inclusivity, mental health, abuse, acceptance and awareness, yet our holidays hardly reflect the growth and changes made. It almost feels like we take a step back in time for a day when in reality these are the days we should be taking leaps forward.
I truly believe if we want to show our appreciation to our mother’s then we need to start showing that in our daily interactions. Women are still consistently paid less than men to do the same job with the same qualifications. Besides one 6-week check up after giving birth, new mom’s get no help, support or resources to encourage proper healing and transitions into motherhood. Women are more likely to suffer through more intense pain and take longer to receive pain medication than men due to the belief that women are “dramatic” and “emotional” where as men are “strong.”
Not only do women not know enough about their own bodies and anatomy, but men know even less. I was taught how to put a condom on a banana in grade 8, while simultaneously being taught that PMS isn’t a real thing.
I don’t want bouquets of flowers and jewelry on mothers day (I want those every other day 😉). I want to hear the masses talking about the inequality. I want to see change happen.
What are you thoughts? Do you think Mother’s Day (& others) needs an overhaul? Share below 💭