In the time surrounding Mother’s Day, I witnessed a variety of responses in the childfree world online. Some childfree felt resentful or hurt that there is a day to honor mothers but no comparable day for the rest of us; some rejected the day altogether as crass commercialization, a sentiment that is undoubtedly not unique to the childfree; but some planned to celebrate as “mothers” of animals; others rejoiced in being appreciated as a “mothering” or nurturing figure (a doting auntie, a mentor, a teacher, etc.) and receiving cards, flowers, and such.
I suppose that some of the hurt feelings or the desire for inclusion is a reaction to our mother-worshipping culture (which seems like a bit of a contradiction to me, because all of the sexist stereotypes about mothers indicate that our culture also hates women for being mothers… I’m going to have to cogitate on that for a future post). Mother’s Day is just one more day to tell us, the childfree and the childless, that you are nothing if you aren’t a mother. You don’t matter.
As far as I am concerned, though, I want none of it for myself. I celebrate Mother’s Day because I have a mother, I love her, and it pleases me to shower her with gifts. In that sense, I feel no exclusion. Further, aside from the tiresome cultural assertions that motherhood is the ideal for all women, I don’t begrudge anyone a day to recognize the responsibilities she has taken on. For me, it is much like Administrative Professionals’ Day or Veteran’s Day – no one will ever celebrate me on those days, and I am OK with that.
The more I think about it, the more I would like to be invisible on Mother’s Day. I personally would find it a little insulting if someone gave me a Mother’s Day card “from the cat.” My relationship with my animals is not one bit parental, nor do I think of them as children or child-substitutes. And while I would like to be seen as a kind, considerate, and reliable person, pragmatic yet compassionate, I would actually rather not have the reputation for being motherly or nurturing. It has been bad enough to deflect the stereotypes that come with being a wife; I cannot bear the thought of being even remotely associated with anything related to motherhood. On Mother’s Day, see me as the daughter acknowledging her mother, nothing more. I am fine doing without the sappy cards, cheesy TV ads, and troubling stereotypes.