In Defense of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is necessary. As the saying goes, if it did not already exist, we would need to invent it.

There are some who suggest that we should abandon Mother’s Day because not all women who are mothers are worth celebrating. But even the fact that we know that some women who give birth are not really mothers in the full sense suggests the fact that we know that there is something about motherhood which is inherently worthy of celebration. Yes, some women fail to mother well, but their failure to do so is so very significant precisely because mothers are hugely important. The failure of some should never cause us to neglect to celebrate those who love so very well!

Some say that there is no need for Mother’s Day, because every day should be filled with thankfulness for all that mothers do for us. While it is in a sense true that every day should be a celebration of our mothers, this is not reality for the vast majority. If you call your mother every day and give her gifts regularly and tell her 20 times a week that you love her–good for you! The rest of us need specific reminders and days to celebrate our mothers. Most humans need holidays and seasons to focus in on specific aspects of life, love, and important relationships. And so, for most of us, a specific day to celebrate mothers is absolutely essential.

Others suggest that celebrating mothers pains those who have an unfulfilled desire to be mothers. This is certainly true, at least in the sense of reminding some women of the hurt which they may be seeking to forget. But we do not fail in our duty to recognize Veterans because we hurt those who wish to join the military but are unqualified. I do not ignore my friend who fought at Fallujah because I have another friend who dreamed for years of joining the military but was unable to live his dream of service due to knee issues. Those who suffer from depression of any sort should be supported, but we must not allow the sadness of some to destroy our celebrations of those who constantly give so much.

Some assert that Mother’s Day should be ignored because it is over-commercialized and cards, chocolate, and flowers are stupid. Well, if your mother likes something else better, then by all means give her whatever she prefers. But don’t reject the chance to celebrate mothers simply because you do not like the way in which others celebrate!

Others insist that Mother’s Day is not worth celebrating because all women are mothers in the sense of nurturing others, and motherhood is not the meaning of womanhood, or else motherhood is the meaning of womanhood and so we should celebrate womanhood rather than motherhood, or some other variation of the same. This is a reasonable abstract thought, but it has little connection to reality. Mothers must give themselves to their children in a way which is distinct from other womanly nurturing relationships. The very reason that infertility or the inability to adopt hurts women so very much is tied to the fact that actually being a mother is different. If mothers were not especially worthy of celebration, then there would be no sting for those women who are left out of the celebration, because it would be meaningless.

Ultimately it is of the utmost importance to remember that motherhood is real. It is not some abstract ideal which we idealize and cherish in our minds. It is real women living real lives and sacrificing themselves in real ways. Because of this, they need real support, thanks, and encouragement.

Mother’s Day can be incredibly hard for those of us who never had a real mother in our lives, who have lost our mothers, who have lost our children, who are unappreciated by our children, or who do not yet have children despite our desire. But Mother’s Day is difficult precisely because it matters.

Mothers must be celebrated, and Mother’s Day is one perfect little step towards the fuller celebration which should pervade all of our lives.

Mothers, you rock. Happy Mother’s Day!

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5 thoughts on “In Defense of Mother’s Day

  1. Michelle

    Thank you! And I agree with all of it. I may have a hard time with my own mother, but it makes her no less special and she sacrificed plenty for me and my siblings growing up.

  2. Megan

    Wonderful post, Rae! Today my husband, very loving, tried to reason that “all women are mothers in the sense of nurturing others.” My response was a lot less eloquent than yours, though!

  3. Samantha

    While I do think Mother’s Day is far overblown, it’s more because people seem to just truck Mum out to brunch, grumbling and obligated. It would be nice to forget the trappings and, as you said, celebrate and enjoy the mums in your life. No frilly cards, overpriced flowers, or waxy chocolates needed.

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