As mothers day draws nearer, I personally find it a challenging time. As with all of the commercial events, I find the date thrown in my face every single time I walk into, or even past a shop.. that could possibly entice anybody to come in and spend money.
Here in the UK, the traditional wording for our celebration is “Mothering Sunday”. This annual celebration falls on the fourth Sunday of lent. It is likely to go back to the 16th century, where christians were encouraged annually to visit their “Mother church”, meaning the church or cathedral in the region in which they grew up. In those days, it was quite common for children to leave home for work as young as 10 years of age, so this annual celebration meant that families were typically reunited as a whole. Even servants were allowed the day off to visit their families, and I’m sure it was a day many people looked forward to for months beforehand.
I won’t pretend to be particularly religious, but I think that was a sweet tradition, and I’m sure many mothers, fathers and other family members really benefited from it. However, as with most other traditions, it has been gently but progressively altered over the years. The whole family get together has turned its attention to mothers in particular, and gifts such as a few hand picked flowers, a homemade card or a simnel cake, have progressed somewhat to another occasion in which I see and hear people feeling pressured both emotionally and financially to provide extravagant gifts and sometimes begrudged time to their mother… because society has developed an overwhelming pressure for us to.
Every one of us has had a mother. That is a fact.
But that doesn’t mean that we all still do. Nor does it mean that we have a mother that we want to celebrate or give thanks to. If we are blessed to have a mother alive that we adore, then perhaps it isn’t so difficult to go with the flow, and do what is expected of us. That is, of course if distance and other commitments allows us. But the there are so many other complications that we do not allow for.
How about a married couple who both have living mothers they adore, but who live very far apart? How do they choose which one to visit? Which mum is more special? Maybe they could alternate the years, but what if there isn’t a next year for one of them? Who feels it more if a visit just isn’t possible? The son/daughter? Are they riddled with guilt? Or does the mother end up feeling lonely and sad, as much as she promises she understands to her beloved children?
Maybe mothers day is a reminder to many of the mum they miss terribly, or the mum they never had. Maybe, it creates a real financial hardship to some living on the breadline, to buy gifts as good as their siblings for their mother that they cannot afford.
To go on, to a much deeper level, how about the adult children who didn’t have a loving adoring relationship with their mother? What if they were mistreated in their childhood? Should they be guilt tripped into buying gifts and cards for their mother because “she’s still your mum”?
Think about the mother who has lost a child, or the woman who is unable to concieve.
the pain at not being the “mum” they had thought they would be.
Please think of all the people that find mothers day challenging. It has become such a commercial event that we cannot escape it. we cannot take away the pain or suffering to those who feel it, but we can be more aware. Lets try and remember those who do not have much money, and not make them feel pressured into buying expensive gifts they cannot afford.
If mothers day is a time you can treasure, with your mother or children then I think that is wonderful, and I genuinely wish you a very happy day. Try and remember that the love you share is there every day, and no gifts you buy will be remembered as much as the memories you make together. Please give your children the gift of no pressure, and let them know that gifts are not a necessity.
If some of the examples I wrote above remind you of someone you know, then try and check in on that person, because the chances are, if they are struggling, then they will appreciate your thoughts.
If it is you who finds mothers day a difficult time, then I feel for you. You are not alone. I encourage you to talk about your feelings as much as possible. It is nearly impossible to ignore mothers day, but we can reframe what it means to us. I like the old traditional sense of what mothering Sunday was, and think it can be a nice time to catch up with family, wether that be those you are related to, or the friends you hold dear, that you have chosen. Perhaps planning a visit somewhere nice, visiting your home town (if that will be a cheery experience), or simply spoiling ourself for surviving our past if that is what makes this time of year difficult.
Perhaps you have other ideas or suggestions as to what may be a useful idea for someone who finds mothers day challenging? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments below.