So what the hell is my problem? Well I have at least 5 actually...
My five problems with Mother's Day:
1. Too much pressure
So this is a pretty big one. I cannot tell you how many people (mothers mostly) I have spoken to and listened to this week that feel the pressure of this day weighing on them in a seriously unhappy way. I will address below the people who struggle because of their circumstances but here all I am talking about is simply the pressure of having to be happy on cue, and the pressure of worrying whether their other half will have done anything, or the right thing. Some of the mothers who need nurturing and celebrating more than any others, don't receive that on this day either, and the day just acts as a reminder.
Equally, for some children, the pressure of having to provide a perfect day for their mother is just too much. It isn't because they don't love her, not because they have a lack of appreciation for what she does. It is simply too much to expect of them to "perform" perfectly on a particular day. This is particularly true if your child is neurodivergent.
2. Spontaneity and regularity matters
I have always personally felt that having one particular day for celebrating someone, and it being advertised and reminded literally everywhere during the weeks before, makes it utterly meaningless. For me, I would feel much more celebrated, by someone noticing what I do and deciding to do something fo me, or to recognise my contribution then, in that moment.
In the same vein, if I have to wait to feel valued on Mother's Day and my birthday and that's it, then quite frankly, I don't feel valued at all. I know that I work really bloody hard for others every day of my life. Sometimes in practical ways but more often than not, for me, in emotional ways.
When my husband notices how hard I am working at keeping everyone calm and nurtured, and how tired I am, and makes sure I get a lie in or some time alone. When my children randomly hug me and thank me for doing what I do, or when I get a strong feeling of gratitude myself and text my mum. That is celebrating me and what motherhood is here.
3. Huge trigger and not accessible to everyone
The hardest part is that for some people, the day and all it's visibility is a huge trigger for hugely difficult emotions. This could be due to losing your mother, having an abusive mother, losing a child, not being able to be with a child that you are a mother to, having a child that cannot celebrate with you in some other way (maybe through neurodivergence or disability). There are so many reasons why this day might be hugely difficult for some mothers, some people who want to be mothers who are not, some children and some fathers.
Mother's Day has only become such a big deal because it makes rich people richer. Card companies, restaurants, supermarkets, and any shops really, benefit financially from women's hard work and do not think for a second that the people at the top of that chain who make millions from this day, are in fact either mothers or even women. They are not. By taking part we are contributing financially to capitalism, consumerism, and worse still, patriarchy.
5. Women are not valued
This leads neatly to my final problem with Mother's Day. We need to start insisting that this society starts actually valuing mothers and the reason that the work of mothers is not valued is not an individual family problem. It is a problem of inequality in our society. It is because the work of mothers is inherently valued and women are not valued. I am not going to get into a feminist rant here but if you, like me, think that the work of mothers is (in most cases) beyond the damn pale, then we need to stop hiding it away as "I am just a mum".
We bloody deserve to be celebrated
I can hear you screaming... "But if we don't have a designated day then no one will celebrate mothers!"... I agree. AND that is the saddest part of all. If there wasn't a specific day that was only created by our capitalist society to make you buys more things, no one would remember to celebrate mothers, the life-givers and nurturers of society. WTF?
For this very reason, we need to stand up and wholly reject the concept that it is ok to appease us once a year with fairly empty words and gestures that are given in a way that potentially hurts others. What if mothers were celebrated in the ways we actually want and need them to be, all year round? What about if mothers were valued by society for the immense work that we do, supported in the choices we make without companies trying to pitch us against each other and what if families nurtured their relationships with each other on a more equal basis... every single day? This is what we want, and I am betting all of you, even those who love Mother's Day, would sacrifice this day of pressured and often fake "celebration" for being genuinely valued, potentially remunerated for your hard work and for equality.
This concept applies to other things too
In my family we also actively boycott Father's Day and Valentines day for essentially all the same reasons. It puts too much pressure on all involved, it makes people who cannot be involved feel rubbish, it's an excuse to pay for things you don't need and feel bad if you cannot afford what you would like to, or what is expected of you, it is pretty meaningless because you didn't think of it yourself and it provides an excuse not to bother at other times.
Honestly, it's your choice
So, you don't need to agree with me. This is just how I see it, but I would urge you strongly to consider what Mother's Day, and these other days, do for you and how they make the people around you feel. Do you think that they celebrate you in the way you would really want? Do they make everyone feel good? Is there a better way?
Celebrating each other
Whatever you decide about this, please encourage your family to celebrate each other in tiny little ways or big ways. as much as possible. Being a mother can feel relentless and thankless at times and is seriously hard work. You, as a mother, need to be celebrated, but we also must remember that sometimes being a father can feel this way too, being a step-parent, an Aunt and grandparent can (and all the others) BUT the thing that we always always forget to mention is that it can feel like this to be a child too.
I know it may look like a pretty good life being a child, but growing up is tough, especially for some children. Those who have non-traditional family situations, those who have lost people (applies to adults too), those whose mothers have hurt them and, in many families, those who struggle with anxiety, are particularly vulnerable on this day. I know that if we did do Mother's Day here in my family, my son who is Autistic would struggle a great deal with the pressure of this day.
We celebrate each other in small ways, every single day. We don't always get it right but that is all part of this pathway. This is fundamental to having calmer relationships.
I see you, yes you
I will leave this with you. I see you. All of you. The mothers who do it all, the mothers whose partners do a lot of work to help, the mothers who cannot care for their children, the mothers whose children are not capable of showing appreciation, the mothers who have lost, the mothers who have not yet, or never will hold their child in their arms (you are still mothers to me), the children and mother's without their mother, the fathers without their partner, the other family members doing the work of mothers, and anyone else who I have missed and is affected by this day.
You are all enough. You all matter. And I celebrate you all, every fucking day.
By Emily Wilding (Fackrell)- Managing director of CalmFamily
Emily is a neurodivergent mum of four, educator, writer, and activist. Emily is "Raising a Generation" of humans who are fundamentally calmer, creating a better and calmer society.