Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why I refuse to hate Mother's Day

I've been hearing a lot of people complaining about Mother's Day.

Everyone has their own reason for dreading the day (and I'll admit these are legitimate reasons):
  • They never knew their mothers or lost them prematurely (or ever). 
  • They have strained, complicated, or otherwise lousy relationships with their mothers. 
  • They long desperately to be mothers and aren't--whether because they're unmarried or infertile or have lost a child. 
  • They have as many children as they want and feel guilty on Mother's Day for not being perfect at raising them.
I have been thinking about this a lot this week, since reading a blog post by a woman with infertility and another by an overwhelmed, inadequate-feeling mother. Both found ways to come to love Mother's Day. 

My own path to motherhood has hardly been smooth, but for some reason I've never hated Mother's Day. Even during the height of our infertility I didn't hate Mother's Day, nor do I hate it now when I have a daughter to miss.

Why is that?

It's because Mother's Day is something different than we think.

It's not about celebrating perfect moms. No one is a perfect mom. It's not about celebrating perfect families or perfect kids. No one has a perfect family or perfect kids.

The woman who founded Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, never married or had children of her own. Her own mother had at least 11 children, and only 4 of them survived to adulthood. Does that sound like the perfect family to you? Both of these women are just the type that would feel resentful about Mother's Day today--a childless woman and her bereaved mother.

Motherhood is messy.

Conception and pregnancy and childbirth are messy. Along the way you find miscarriage, morning sickness (sometimes severe), pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature births, birth defects, still births, traumatic birthing stories, stretch marks, C-sections and their scars. Then you find NICU babies, some that make it home and some that don't. You find SIDS babies. You find allergies and reflux and colic and genetic defects and autism and behavioral problems and on and on and on. I think almost every mother out there fits something on this list.

Having kids is not glamorous or efficient or tidy.

And moms. Moms are exhausted and inadequate. You have working moms and stay-at-home moms, both feeling a little guilty for opposite reasons. You have married moms, divorced moms, widowed moms. You have moms that are too young and moms that feel too old for the task. You have breastfeeding moms and bottle feeding moms, overweight moms and underweight moms. You have overly strict moms and overly lax moms. You have overwhelmed, exhausted, resentful, inadequate, temper-losing, letting-my-kid-watch-too-much-TV moms, sick moms, and mentally ill moms. But all moms are, to some extent, trying. 

And we love our moms, even though they are all just...human.

Mother's Day isn't meant to honor perfect moms. It's meant to honor imperfect moms and their ability to still, somehow, leave a beautiful mark on the world.

Today is a day to feel grateful for what I do have, not for what I don't. And I think most women have much more than they realize.

I have a really amazing mom.

But in addition to my Mom, I have a thousand moms. They are the women that told me I was good at school. That encouraged me to go to college. That taught me silly campfire songs. That loved me, comforted me, helped through hard times, listened to me, fed me, gave me rides, and did other things any mom would do. My moms also include grandmas, aunts, cousins, sisters-in-law, my stepmother, and my mother-in-law.

The truth is, no mom can be everything and do everything for her children. My Mom has blessed my life but so have my other moms.

I have 2 beautiful Children.

But I also have a thousand children. Every patient that I see is temporarily my child. I comfort, listen, and try to heal. My children are the little ones I babysit for friends, my nieces and nephews, children that I share our snacks with or teach about Jesus or the abcs or comfort when their Mom is not around.

Someday my parents may live to a ripe old age and become frail. If that happens, I will, in one of life's beautiful reversals, be my Mom's mom.

I am a daughter of a Mother. I am also a daughter of mothers. I am a mother of Children. I am also a mother of children.

On Mother's Day I honor the women that have touched my life and been my mothers, including my own amazing Mother. I am also profoundly grateful to be a mother--of Children and also of children. I am grateful that, as a woman, I can touch lives, inside and outside my family. I can leave my own beautiful mark on the world.

May Mother's Day prove to be happy for more of us. 


  1. Your post reminds me of a quote I read long ago. Sorry, it's kinda long, but it sure is a good one.

    "When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living” —and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood.Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.” -Sheri Dew

    Great post!

  2. Perfect words, Camber. Absolutely perfect.

  3. Perfect words, Camber. Absolutely perfect.

  4. Beautiful Camber. Thank you!