I’m glad Avily gave us a feel-good Mother’s Day post yesterday. It balances what I’m about to do to you.
I see a lot of complaints on Facebook and elsewhere about Mother’s Day. Here’s the thing. Mother’s Day was never meant to be happy joy celebrating your own motherhood. It’s about honoring the one who gave you birth. So let’s look at some of the usual self-centered beefs:
I’m not a mom — or — I’m not able to have children
Having faced infertility myself, I understand the heartbreak of feeling that everyone is celebrating a thing you’re still waiting for. Or that you may never have. But it’s not about your motherhood or lack thereof. It’s about your mother.
Anna Jarvis, who had no children of her own, conceived of Mother’s Day as an occasion for honoring the sacrifices individual mothers made for their children.—Sarah Pruitt
I had a miscarriage — or — my child died
This sorrow I cannot imagine. And Mother’s Day must surely make it worse. But as real as your grief is, this day still is not about your children. It’s about your mother.
I never knew my mother
Yet you are here, so she must exist. If you don’t know your birth mother, who raised you? Even if the woman who raised you wasn’t biologically or legally your mother, this day is still about her.
I’ll grant you, this is a tough one. Maybe you’ve had to cut her off because the relationship turned toxic. It’s still a day for her. She’s still the one who brought you into the world, and you can be grateful for that and honor it without taking her to brunch.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.—Exodus 20:12
My mom is dead
I saved this one for last because it gets to the real heart of what Mother’s Day is for.
Just as our culture has mistakenly co-opted Memorial Day for white sales and barbecues, we have co-opted Mother’s Day for expensive gifts and lavish brunches.
Memorial Day is supposed to be for remembering our honored dead who fell in battle. Mother’s Day is supposed to be for honoring our mothers, whether they are living or dead.
Anna Jarvis created the Mother’s Day holiday after her mother had died. Her intent was to create a day for remembering and reflecting upon what our mothers have done for us, not a day for spending a lot of money on gifts for our mothers. The commercialization of the day troubled her even more than the commercialization of Christmas bothers most of us.
Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as an intimate occasion—a son or daughter honoring the mother they knew and loved—and not a celebration of all mothers.—Sarah Pruitt
I can’t pretend the day isn’t painful for some of us. But instead of trying to avoid our pain or complaining about it, what if we leaned into it? What if we took it God in prayer? We’re often told that God uses our painful experiences to teach us something, and in my experience, that something has usually been about serving other people.
What if we offered prayers of gratitude for the mothers we did have, even if they were toxic or have passed on?
And if your mother isn’t toxic and hasn’t passed on? Call her. She misses you.