The Fourth Sunday of Lent seems like a rather innocuous day by all accounts and for many, particularly those who are not religious would mean a day of very little significance.
However, that day is also in the UK more commonly known as Mother’s Day although its original meaning, at least in the UK, was not specific to our own mothers at all but to people returning to their ‘Mother church’ in lent.
It was commercialised by the Americans in the early 20th century although they, like many others hold ‘Mother’s Day’ on a completely different day (or days) and it is not closely related to the church in the same way it is in the UK.
Suddenly that day, as innocuous as it originally sounded, starts to bring a sense of dread, sadness and pain to many.
Mother’s Day invokes a day of celebration for so many yet for others highlights something we may have lost, may have always wanted, may never have and remind us all too emphatically of our own struggle.
Everyone deals with Mother’s Day differently and there is no right or wrong way to handle it.
Ever since I was a little girl I have always remembered Mother’s Day fondly. We would go to church and my brother and I, along with the other children of the congregation, would race to the front of the church, at the vicar’s request, and pick up a small posy of daffodils for our mums. Always wrapped in a little bit of foil to stop the water dripping everywhere. My mum standing proudly with a smile on her face as she received them.
As we have got older the significance of that little posy of flowers hasn’t changed and whilst we may now only rarely see our Mum on Mother’s Day we always send flowers or some form of sickeningly vomit inducing card that we know that my mum will say she hates, but she will secretly love.
My mum is herself rather indifferent to Mother’s Day, because as she told us once, why have just one day when we can celebrate our mothers when we should be doing so every day anyway? If we thought of it like that then again, the meaning changes.
However, this meaning can change even more when you find out yourself that you can’t have children and in particular for me when all of my friends started having children. All of a sudden that reality of motherhood, or lack of, became a lot more real.
That being said I focus very much on my mum for Mother’s Day and not on how much I may have wished for Mother’s Day to be for me as a mother. To me it is just another day.
If Mother’s Day invokes sad feelings because of our own personal struggle, then how can we change our focus to something that suddenly becomes a celebration? Why not think of it as the 3rd Sunday before Easter (which it is in the UK). As soon as you take away the ‘Mother’ connotation it already seems less intimidating.
Last year on Mother’s Day I did the Surrey Half Marathon. I had no idea when I signed up for it that it was on Mother’s Day. I didn’t even realise until a few weeks before that it was. As the 2500 runners lined up to start the race I heard one Mother say – ‘I can’t believe they organised this on Mother’s Day’. 1) I am pretty certain they always have the run on the same weekend every year and Mother’s Day moves so it’s not their fault and 2) quite frankly, why not?!
Mother’s Day does not have to be this all-encompassing day of dread and despair for some and the day that we all go and pamper mum for others. In fact, I know for many this is definitely not the case and often not what many mothers would really like. The media and adverts of course paint this rosy picture of the perfect Mother’s Day which idealises family life on that one day, changing our perceptions as it does with so many things.
If I was to make my own mother breakfast in bed in Mother’s Day I am certain she would think I had done something terrible that would have provoked such an act.
That is not to say that Mother’s Day is not important to me. It is. I like to celebrate my own mother but neither me, my brother, or my Mother have any specific expectations that are any different to how we treat or surprise her on any other day.
I can be sad about something I don’t have of course but what about all of the things that I do have? To me that outweighs the rest enough of the time for me to really feel largely indifferent now to Mother’s Day at least for my own grief.
Time is a great healer though. We may not think it but in the 17.5years I have known I can’t have children my feelings have changed, and I have become much more focused on what is important to me now and not the fear of what may have been or what could be in the future.
Be sad if you need to. Grieving is so important but don’t let it consume you. Mother’s Day like any other day doesn’t have to be a struggle. There are distractions everywhere if you are open to them. Here are some things you may like to consider if you find the 3rd Sunday before Easter particularly hard:
- Think of it like any other Sunday
- Change its meaning to you – make it a recurring day of celebration of you, of life, of whatever you fancy
- If it does upset you then don’t make it harder for yourself. Turn off social media – yes you can do this!
- Arrange a day of fun with you partner, friends, family, cat, dog…
- Get your favourite food in and have a cosy day of films and fun
- Exercise – whether its running or cycling or just going to the gym to pretend to work out it’s a great way to get your body moving and those endorphins flowing
- If in doubt then wine, chocolate, sweets or any other guilty pleasures are also available
I now live in Norway and Mother’s Day here was a few weeks ago. This Mother’s Day I will be at work entertaining some clients. To me it will be just like any other day. Just the way I know my mother and I like it.
Don’t let this day be more than it needs to be to you.
Article written for Fertility Network UK in support of Mothers Day 2019 #survingmothersday #youarenotalone