This morning, I read this article by Rebecca Solnit about the many conflicted emotions wrapped up in Mother’s Day. Right at the start she says something that reminds me of conversations I had with my own mom.
Mom and I used to talk about holidays and rituals, how they helped, how they harmed, and even if they were problematic, would we want a world without them?
I’m mostly a fan of holidays that mark the passage of seasons and for which people decorate their houses. Commercialism decorations may be, but they’re also a visual delight.
But of course Mother’s Day has its issues. You know, plenty of us no longer have our mothers with us. Some people have mothers in jail or mothers who don’t want to see us or mothers we don’t want to see. There are biological mothers, foster mothers, adoptive mothers, step-mothers, and substitute mothers. There are those who wish to be mothers and those who have had motherhood forced upon them.
My mother meant the world to me and her sudden death was shattering, but there were so many unresolved issues, things we needed to talk about, and moments to come to terms with. That’s another thing death takes. Not only the person but all the things left undone and unresolved and impossible to know.
This morning I listened to another story about the drop in birthrates in the United States. Imagine if we created a society that made motherhood easier. What if it didn’t ruin your financial situation or damage your career? What if we didn’t have these numbers of maternal mortality? What if mothers didn’t have to routinely fear their children being shot at school or by the police? What if mothers had access to health care and mental health services?
What if these things were just available to everyone, mom or otherwise?
This country says many wonderful things every Mother’s Day.
But it seems far more interested in making the world a better place for stockholders than families.
Corporations need help and tax breaks. Families? Well, hope you have bootstraps!
Also, it is perfectly fine not to have kids. No one needs to justify a childfree life.
I once had a total stranger lecture me on why I had to have a second child. Don’t be that lady, people. Just don’t.
Whatever joy or pain this day may bring to you, whatever your relationship to motherhood and its complexities, I wish you well.
Thanks for reading.