Sunday, May 13, 2018

Ugh... Mother's Day...

Just kidding.  I don't personally have a particular animosity toward Mother's Day.  I guess if I do have any annoyed feelings about Mother's Day, they probably have more to do with some of the yucky social media posts about the day.  Everybody and their brother seems to post a lot of sappy and/or insensitive stuff about moms, not realizing that some people don't enjoy Mother's Day for whatever reason.  And if you dare say anything about not liking it, you get a ration of shaming shit.

On the other hand, I liked this post.  I think it's very thoughtful and kind.

Like I said, my mom and I get along fine.  I'll probably call her later and wish her a happy day.  Hopefully, I won't rouse her from a nap or anything.  However, I can understand why days like today cause some people angst.  In fact, a couple of days ago, I read a very insightful post on the New York Times about the role of "mom" and how it's probably a bit broader than people realize, especially among people who non-officially take on that role.

Paula Carter, who wrote the memoir No Relation, was once in a long term relationship with a man who had two sons.  Although she never married their father, she spent years with the boys and helped raise them.  Then, after the relationship with their dad ended, so did her relationship with the boys.  So she wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times called "I Am Not a Mother, But I Am Something".

I really enjoyed Carter's piece because I related to it.  Bill has two daughters who have been completely estranged from him since 2004.  I met them just once, back in 2003.  I haven't laid eyes on them since.  So although technically and legally, I am their stepmother, realistically, I don't really feel like any kind of mother figure to them.  Carter actually did have a motherly role toward her ex boyfriend's sons, but legally, she was nothing more than a friend to them.

At the beginning of her post, Carter writes about attending church on Mother's Day with her mom.  All of the mothers were asked to stand and be recognized.  Carter didn't, because she isn't a mom.  A man sitting near her asked if something was wrong.  Then, Carter was put in the awkward situation of feeling like she had to explain herself to a stranger.

Like Carter, I've experienced being wished a happy Mother's Day, even though I am no one's mom.  It's nice that people wish others a happy day, although it's also a little strange that someone would assume I'm a mother.  While it doesn't bother me much, I can see how such a simple wish might really hurt someone's feelings... particularly those who wanted to be a mom and couldn't.  And, if someone confesses to having wanted and failed to become a mother, people offer stupid suggestions that they must assume never occurred to the other person.  Like, for instance, adoption.  I guarantee that every childless woman who hoped to be a mother has considered adoption.  There's really no need to suggest it.

The comments on Carter's piece were very interesting and mostly thoughtfully expressed.  On the other hand, there's always someone out there who's got to be the asshole.  Here's one example...

Wow!!! Please let the mothers have their day without whining from those who aren’t. This author isn’t a mother or a stepmother. Let it go!!!

WHY would this woman write this article right before MOTHERS DAY ? Because SHE NEEDS ATTENTION. Mothers Day IS FOR MOTHERS/MOTHER FIGURES. This author IS NEITHER.

Sadly, these kinds of sentiments are usually posted by people who didn't even bother to read.  The person who posted the above comments claims to have read the article, but it sounds to me like she either lacks reading comprehension skills or is just a very insensitive clod.

Well... I don't go to church myself, so I'm not put in these kinds of odd situations.  If I did go to church, I probably wouldn't care too much about not getting to stand with the moms...  If someone asked me if "everything was okay", I'd probably tell them way more than they ever wanted to know.  That might make them think twice about asking such personal questions about a woman's family plans.  

I guess my main point is that there's room on the Internet for all kinds of views... even the hateful ones.  I think it's good that people like Paula Carter are willing to share their stories.  For every insensitive jerk who tells her to "let it go" and "get over it", there will be many other people quietly appreciating that she took the time to express herself.  They will relate to what she writes.  I related to Carter's story, even though it's not really like my personal story.  Unlike her, I am actually a stepmother...  but I don't know my stepchildren.  I may never know them.  And it's okay to write about that, even if it is Mother's Day.  I don't think it takes away from moms who want to celebrate "their day".  Moms can still celebrate their day without telling people like Paula Carter to STFU.  In fact, I think that would be the motherly thing to do.


  1. I like the post, too, and I see how mother's day is loaded with emotional baggage for many people.


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