01 April, 2011

Tough days ...

Some days are just harder than others.  Mother's Day (and Father's Day) is one that is always difficult for those of us without children.  Even before I tried to conceive, I didn't love this day.  I don't like the suggestion that some people are more worthy than others.  But after my losses, this day was a horrible reminder of what we didn't have, the status I didn't have, and that "no-one cared!"  (A little melodrama is I hope permissible).

I know it is Mother's Day in the UK this weekend. I know how difficult it will be for many of my friends there, for women I've "talked" to on-line, and for women I don't know but who are going through infertility or pregnancy loss right now, and will find this day desperately difficult, and will feel terribly alone and isolated and forgotten.
With modern technology, it is easier now to avoid some of the hype that builds up before Mother's Day.  But it is impossible to avoid it all.  That little twinge of regret, that reminder that I need to press "fast forward" or "mute" to protect myself, can be painful.  In some ways however I find Fathers' Day more difficult to deal with, as I freely allow myself to feel pain for my husband, when I won't do the same for myself on Mother's Day. 

Over the years we have developed some coping mechanisms.  In one of the first years of childlessness, we made the mistake of going to the movies.  As we bought our tickets, two boys stood behind us (sick of waiting for their parents lagging behind), and the girl behind the counter looked at me and the two boys and chirped "Happy Mother's Day!"  I gulped, nodded, and escaped into the dark of the theatre.  We won't make that mistake again.

I don't live in the same city (or even island) as my mother, so rarely see her on Mother's Day.  But as the only son/daughter-in-law combination left in the country, we make a point of seeing my mother-in-law.  Occasionally we will invite them to our house for a nice lunch.  Or we might go out to their house and take dinner.  Or we might invite them out to a restaurant.  But we always do it the day before Mother's Day.  I cannot sit in a restaurant, surrounded by happy families, with my mother-in-law and be reminded at every turn that I am not and will never be a mother.  So we plead excuses - prior engagements, or simply that restaurants will be too crowded - and happily go out the day before.   I don't know if my mother-in-law or father-in-law have ever noticed this.  They are probably too polite to comment even if they did.

And so on Mothers' Day, our duty done, we hibernate a little - but as we tend to do that at least one day on a weekend, we don't feel as if we are trapped at home, and often we forget what day it is, enjoy a relaxing day and a nice glass of wine or two.

I do remember fondly one particular Mothers' Day though.  We were in Johannesburg, and our guide was taking us on a tour of Soweto, such a notorious town with such cruel memory associations from the 1970s and 80s.  We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch.  It was full of families celebrating Mother's Day.  It was sunny, everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best, there was chatting and laughter, and the good food was consumed heartily. I smiled.  I was happy.

Note:  Whenever I write "Mother's Day" I check.  Is the apostrophe in the right place?  Apparently, the founder of Mother's Day insisted that it should be singular possessive.  A day to honour one mother, not all mothers.  This is not really how the day is treated, but I stick to her principles in my use of apostrophes.


  1. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day: I lump these under "Hallmark holidays" that seemed utterly contrived to me, a way to guilt people into buying gifts, spending money, and feeling bad about themselves if they are among those who can't be included in the celebration. I know that historically they are more than Hallmark holidays. But I really dislike them for the pressure/alienation they bring about for some, a pressure that can be much worse than feeling lonely during the December holidays as it is so specific.

  2. Also, thanks for the note on apostrophe usage.

  3. Ugh -- MDay is in May here, & while I haven't seen any card displays yet, the card shop downstairs in my office building already has a big display of photo frames engraved with loving tributes to Mom. Makes me want to crawl under a rock for the next six weeks or so.

    Funny, dh & I often escape to the movies on days like Mother's Day & Father's Day!

  4. You have put into good words the feeling I get every Valentine's Day, Mother's, Father's Days. At my parish we used to give out carnations or do a blessing of married folks (the sunday closest to V Day) or other things like that. I sit on the worship commission now and a few years back I asked why the heck we did this, why we would praise people for what is, essentially, good luck. And the nuns and priest were shocked that I would say that (I'm married, I am a mother), but the other married people in the room, the other parents, nodded in agreement. All those days are simply self-congratulatory and mean. Not the intention but really? Ok, now I'm going to have to go post on my blog again....

  5. I'm not v keen on Valentine's day either! I particularly hate going out for dinner on V Day or mother's day, the restaurants are full of manufactured sentiments!

    I think I might get a carry out and watch telly on Sunday!

  6. I used to work for a woman who owned a floral shop. She was a mama but hated Mothers' Day because it was the busiest day of the year for them.

    The church we used to go to gave carnations to all women on MD. One year the pastor assured me he wouldn't do a sermon on motherhood - but the following year he did and i've not attended any church for MD ever since. When i found that my hubby felt the same way about FD, we stopped attending then, too.

    Anna Marie Jarvis, the woman who began MD in the US, never married and had no children. She began the day because she wanted to honor her own mother and she protested what the holiday eventually became. I think she thought it turned into a "Hallmark holiday," too, and didn't like it.

  7. I never minded Mothers Day until the last few years. Now, not only do I not live close to my mom to 'celebrate' with her, but I have to with my MIL (who is not our fav person) AND mostly bc of IF. All my friends beam that have little ones, whether it's their first, second or 10th, while I sit there and see every commercial roll through with smiling families. C tries and gets me a card from Roxie (our lab), but it almost makes me more sad. They get a hug from their child, I get a fake card from my dog. Great.

  8. I'm not a fan of Mother's Day, Father's Day or Valentine's Day (or Christmas) either. I don't mind honoring my own mother, but feel weird and obliged to be the honoree on a manufactured day.

    That said, I used to send my Aunt Ginny Mother's Day cards because, for a time, she felt more like a mother to me than my own.

  9. IB - eek I found a Mothers' Day in there. I'm sure you saw it, but were far too polite to mention it.

    Dona - that's lovely.

  10. Not to minimize your pain, but Mother's Day can sometimes be difficult for mothers, too. Joy is never guaranteed, especially at holidays.

  11. Lali, I agree totally. I read someone say somewhere that many holidays seem to cause more pain completely out of proportion to the happiness they supposedly bring. I suspect they might be right.