Motherhood was fun and chaotic, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
Five Reasons Why Mother's Day Should Be Abolished
Instead of flowers and breakfast in bed, there's a mother you know who's faking a smile, hiding her tears, or torturing herself by reading all the sappy sentiments on social media about other's mothers. Every year, she dreads this day for the weeks leading up. Let's not forget her or the other amazing women who've taught and guided us, especially when our mothers couldn't or wouldn't.
For so many, Mother's Day may be associated with feelings of grief or loss. Here are five reasons Mother's Day shouldn't exist.
1. Mother's Day Was Never Meant to Be Commercialized
Before I dive into the grit of what I want to share, I'd like to point out the origin of Mother's Day and explain my motives for writing this piece.
Many people, myself included, have never taken the time to learn why such a day exists in the first place. We follow the masses and fall prey to societal traditions without knowing why we do it. My goal is to remove societal stress and undue pressure by challenging topics like this.
"The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St. Andrew's Methodist Church now holds the International Mother's Day Shrine. Her campaign to make Mother's Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, died. Anna Jarvis was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother's Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and set aside a day to honor all mothers, because she believed a mother is "the person who's done more for you than anyone in the world".
In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, joking they would also have to proclaim a "Mother-in-law's Day". However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday, with some officially recognizing Mother's Day as a local holiday (the first being West Virginia, Jarvis' home state, in 1910). In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.
Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother's Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother's Day cards. Jarvis believed the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother's Day, and the emphasis of the holiday be on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother's Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers' convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother's Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace."
2. Mother's Day Is Often Stressful
While birthdays and Christmas rank highly on the list of forced indulgences, there's something even more irritating about Mother’s Day. It’s the idea of how one day makes up for all the other days that weren't so great.
I've never been a fan of Mother's Day but didn't give it the introspective thoughts I do now. I did my best to enjoy it when my kids were little because it was adorable watching them fight over cleaning toilets and who picked out the prettiest flowers for me. I didn't mind it because I was distracted by my four little joy bombs, who loved me with sweet innocence and genuine good intentions. I didn't have to think too hard about not having those same fuzzy feelings of grandeur as a daughter myself, which is another story.
As a child, my father, a loving and protective man, insisted that my sister and I be on our best behavior that day. Mom and I were always at odds—I was high energy, had a voice, and asked questions (which didn't bode well). I was instructed not to talk back, fight with my sister, and behave during church. It was always a day of tension and expectations.
Year after painful year, those who can relate experience the same feelings and emotions. Sometimes, there are other things we'd rather be doing on the second Sunday in May. It forces us to plan something with our mothers we should be doing because we want to, not because we have to. It might be the only day for months for some mothers to see or talk to their kids, which I feel is wrong. I’m not saying it’s not enjoyable to see my kid's faces or hear their voices on Mother's Day, but I want to see and hear from them any day, more days in fact, because they miss and want to spend time with me—not because the calendar says they should.
3. We Often Neglect Our Mothers
I couldn't wait to have babies. I also love helping women become mothers as a labor and delivery nurse. I love the joy that comes with being a mother. Who doesn't enjoy snuggles, that short period of dependence, kissing boo-boos, mom taxiing, comforting failures, and watching them excel?
Loving moms want nothing in return but a strong bond with their kids. We'd love it if they asked about our day for a change. There are many little things that children, young and old, could do for their mothers. Children often take their mothers for granted, but we can thank them by simply being present and genuinely interested in their lives.
4. Some Women Will Never Be a Mother or Have Lost Their Mother
Mother’s Day can leave a bitter taste and remind some of what's no more or never was. Many extraordinary women have longed to be mothers but couldn't be. How does this day make them feel about the baby they never held, the children they may have abandoned due to incomprehensible circumstances, the ones aborted, or the child lost too soon?
What about the children, young and old, whose mothers have passed? Some passed too soon, or some just recently? What about the mother who can’t love, can't be pleased, or is estranged from their children? There are no cards, flowers, gifts, or words to honor or console them on this day.
5. Mother's Day Fans the Fires of Expectation
It's the second Sunday in May, and so it begins. As moms of youngsters, we lay in bed extra long because we're probably getting breakfast in bed (admit it—you want it, and it's pretty damned adorable). We might expect our spouse to do it if our kids don't do it. Wrong! You aren't his mother, so stop there. It's not his job to ogle you today unless he's helping the kids do it. He likely has his own obligation and guilt with which to contend.
Next, we anticipate a full-on house scrubbing, top to bottom, because we "deserve" one day of the year to not ask a thousand times to empty the dishwasher or take out the garbage. After all, it's Mother's Day, a day of obligation for every child, young and old.
Next, you hope to walk into a room full of flowers and homemade cards. But what if none of these typical Mother's Day things happen? The day is ruined, and automatically you think, "no one loves you." You don't feel special, and then, OMG! You forgot about your mother, who's sitting at home wondering where her card, phone call, brunch, and flowers are! You forgot to do a single thing for her! Now you've come full circle; you look at your kids, hug them, and go about your day as if it's any other...because it is!
No one twisted our arms to be a mom, and we don't earn a Ph.D. in motherhood. If you boil it down to basic science, it's what women are biologically programmed to do—reproduce. So why do we need a set day to over-indulge and put undue pressure on ourselves and those we love?
Gifts to Give Yourself to Make Mother's Day (or Any Day) Special
As a mother of four and a daughter who's cut off by her mother, I think about the day-to-day things I could be doing for myself or other extraordinary women who've influenced me. I try to turn my sorrow into joy as best as I can. We invest ample time and energy into being the best mothers we can be. We sacrifice our desires and needs, so they don't suffer and have happy childhoods. We carry them and endure morphing bodies and emotional changes. Some struggle to maintain the pregnancy through high-risk health conditions. Let’s honor ourselves this Mother’s Day for these and countless other reasons. Here are some things I've done for myself over the past several years since my estrangement from my mother and one of my very precious children:
- Study and learn about your family tree. Most people don't appreciate where they come from until later in life. I study my ancestry faithfully and create beautiful books to leave for my children and grandchildren one day. Why not buy yourself a subscription to Ancestry.com to commemorate your special day?
- Write a letter to a remarkable woman in your life. Thank her for all she's done or taught you. Be specific and point out any special moments and how they shaped you into who you are today. Moms are usually told many ways to Sunday how they've failed, but rarely how wonderful they are, especially if you are a mother of an estranged adult child or children or are on the estrangement-receiving end like me.
- Treat yourself to a spa day of pampering. Buy your favorite wine to take along and help you relax. I love the Spafinder Wellness Gift Card that's accepted at thousands of spas nationwide, and I try to keep $100 worth on hand at all times to force me to get out there and do it!
- Do a new craft project. Immersing yourself in a DIY project is great for taking your mind off the day. Consult Pinterest or Youtube, and then hit your favorite craft store or Home Depot for supplies.
- Make a scrapbook showcasing your favorite memories. Or, make it about your life accomplishments. Reflecting on happier times is good for the soul and helps us show gratitude for what we have done throughout the years.
- Go out and buy all your favorite little things! Include specialty foods, snacks, wine, coffee, perfume, toiletries—anything you love or enjoy. Indulge in the finer things you seldom purchase. It's your day, and you deserve it!
These are just a handful of examples of how you can pamper yourself on Mother's Day. And remember, it's just a "Hallmark holiday." To a mother, every day is Mother's Day. Don't let a forced holiday control your emotions or your happiness. I'd love to hear more suggestions! Don't hesitate to contact me with your ideas, and I'll consider adding them to this list! You can also contact me with comments since the commenting section has been disabled. I rely on comments and feedback to improve my articles and deliver the best content to my readers.
Are You Struggling?
© 2019 Debra Roberts
Questions, Comments and Feedback
Liz Westwood from UK on September 05, 2020:
It's a shame that what set out with good intentions has become over commercialized. The same has happened with Father's Day. In recent years I have become much more aware of the many for whom Mothers Day is very hard for many different reasons.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on September 05, 2020:
We do not celebrate mothers day every year because it is not a public holiday in malaysia. I visit my mom once a year hence never celebrate with her except dropping a text message to her
JC Scull on July 14, 2020:
Unfortunately, we tend to commercialize events, celebrations and holidays. It's sad. Interesting idea.
Never Again on May 06, 2020:
Now that I am in my sixth decade, I understand fully why a mother, my senior co-worker from decades ago, said to me that if she had it to do again, she would never have children. She said this world is just too cruel. That was 40 years ago; imagine what she would say, today. I would never have a child for a different reason, though the implication is the same. Having children is the most selfish thing you can do. If you don't understand why, then you haven't lived long enough, or you are too self absorbed.
Perla Bagayaua on April 28, 2020:
Wow. I haven't even done reading, I'll be reading back to it promise, and I already wanted to comment. I am one with you esp on #1. Very convincing! Great job!
Lyosha on May 10, 2019:
You thoughts are so true. But it does feel like if something could become commercial it will become commercial thing, there is nothing sacred for sellers.
Subhashish Roy on May 10, 2019:
I completely agree with your thoughts. These special days are being commercialised by card and gift companies to meet their end. And we are slowly falling into the trap.
Kay on May 10, 2019:
The background of mothers day is interesting. I do enjoy mothers day but its not about the extravagance of gifts etc for me, which I agree has gone too far. I love the time spent together with family and it's a time when I can focus my energy on showing appreciation to my own Mum.
Live Learn Better on May 09, 2019:
Mother's Day is a day that should be solemnly celebrated to appreciate those wonderful beings.
No matter what you buy or not buy, as long as the person involved knows fully well that she's highly valued and appreciated, that's all that mattered.
Mayuri Patel on May 09, 2019:
I as such have begun to hate Mother's Day for two reasons, one is that I cannot wish my mum as she died a few years ago and I miss so much and when my kids forgot to wish me, I go through emotions of being unloved, neglected etc etc. Its no different from other days so why get all emotional.Now Mother's Day can come and go and I don't make a big issue about it.
Sonia Seivwright on May 08, 2019:
Mother's Day is truly a special day. I love this post.
Ashley from One Journey Away on May 08, 2019:
I like the original idea behind Mother's Day, and unfortunately, with many other holidays, like Valentine's Day and even Christmas, it's become so commercialised that we've lost sight of its original purpose. I imagine it would be really difficult for those that have lost their mothers or want to be a mother but can't, or have lost a child themselves.
The Sunny Side Lifestyle Co. on May 07, 2019:
I definitely agree that special moments with your children and mother should happen more often than on Mother's Day, however, I do enjoy Mother's Day. As the 'planner' in our family, I really appreciate that when we celebrate Mother's Day (typically on a different day in May) my husband and children plan the celebration. Instead of gifts and duties, we enjoy the day spending time together.
Scott DeNicola on May 07, 2019:
Mothers Day has a similar feel to Valentines Day to me. Some people are depressed because of the day either due to loss or being alone. I agree that it has become commercialized just like every other holiday. Also like Valentine's day why not celebrate your love or your Mom every day of the year, not just one day. It does happen to fall on my birthday this year so you can celebrate that instead. :)
Tracy @ Cleland Clan on May 07, 2019:
Mother's Day has always been very low-key in our home. Out of five kids, my step-daughter is the only one who ever gives me a card--usually she'll show up with a card and a potted plant. I get my mom a hanging basket for her porch, but it's never much. IWe tend to do things for each other throughout the year. I really think the dad sets the tone for mother's day--if he never made a production out of it, then it's not an extreme celebration.
Debra Roberts (author) from Ohio on April 27, 2019:
I'm glad I'm not the only one to see through this facade. It creates unnecessary chaos!
Charmaine Daisley on April 27, 2019:
Yup, Mother's Day is rather depressing. It's like all the stress and overwork and bad-behaved kids, and warring adult children must be forgotten by mothers, who have to smile at will for the entire day! And now, there's an annual 'argument' on facebook where women get angry when other women wish single fathers (who are primary care givers for their children), 'happy mother's day'. I just wish I could skip the whole thing!
Trish Veltman on April 26, 2019:
I had no idea about the origins of Mother's Day - it has such a fascinating background! Your comments on the commercial Mother's Day we know are thought-provoking. I remember my daughter being very cross when she was 5 and at school for the first time, and her teacher announced to the class they had to draw lovely pictures for mother's day, to show their mummy's how special they are. She thought they should be drawing pictures to show their mummy's how special they were every day, not just on one day!
Rachael Marini on April 26, 2019:
For me Mothers Day has always been special and fun rather than stressful. However, you’ve laid out good points. I think doing away with the day is extreme and don’t agree with that measure. I do agree with ending the commercialization and also being sensitive to those who are experience fertility issues (or are childless not by choice) or have lost a mother.
Debra Roberts (author) from Ohio on April 26, 2019:
Thank you for such a personal response and for sharing your personal story. I'm sorry your lost your mom and your sister, her precious child. I lost my mom too... Except she is very much alive and well... She just chose to stop being part of my life because I got divorced and she doesn't agree with that decision. Life is hard and these commercial holidays make it even harder indeed. Hugs to you and your sister❤️
Despite Pain on April 26, 2019:
I didn't know about Anna Jarvis, so thank you for that little piece of history. I'm in the UK and Mother's Day here was in March. Wonder why it's on a different date.
But back to your post. Yes, it is so commercialised. It's all about making money. Anna's idea was right, a simple letter to show love and appreciation can mean so much more than expensive cards and flowers.
I'm not a mother, and if I'm honest, there was a time when the day was tinged with sadness. Now it's always tinged with sadness, because I no longer have my Mum. I also think about my sister whose daughter died a few years ago. So yes, it's not a day filled with happiness for everyone.
I'm not wishing for happiness to be taken away from other people, but sometimes it's a bit in your face, isn't it.
Thanks for this post (and sorry for such a long comment)
Nina N on March 22, 2019:
I love how you challenge this celebration by very detailed insights about your different reasons. Oftentimes, we fall into the trap of simply following what the masses are doing. It's the norm so we do it as well without really internalizing the meaning of the celebration. Everything is becoming commercialized. Great post!
Erica (The Prepping Wife) on March 21, 2019:
I’ve always thought most holidays like this were both commercialized and a forced celebration. Like Valentine’s Day. I don’t need a commercialized holiday to buy my husband a gift or him to take me out to dinner. Same goes for mother’s and Father’s Day, and a host of others. It’s ridiculous, in my opinion. Thankfully I’ve always ignored them.
Thuy on March 21, 2019:
This reminds me of why a lot of people disagree with Valentine’s Day too. Yes, everyday mother’s should be celebrated and it has gotten very commercialized, but like any holiday you can either choose to celebrate it in your own way or not.
Kari Chairez on March 21, 2019:
At first when I saw this, I was like, "No...don't get rid of Mother's Day!" But then I remember how terrible I feel every year as a married 30-something woman without a child. Then it reminds me of all the women in similar situations or those that have lost mothers and the fact that maybe we should just do better at celebrating them all the time. Now I agree. :)
Lene Andersen on March 21, 2019:
My mother has always hated Mother’s Day. To the point that she gets mad if we get her anything, so that’s been a day off for everyone in my family for decades. :) She’s always said that she’d love if we get her a little gift or do something nice for her on any other the year, but dammit, not because the advertising industry tells us to.
Live Learn better on March 21, 2019:
These are thoughtful and honest write up about Mother's Day. The part of some women never going to be mothers got me thinking and thankful.
The gift ideas are super awesome!
Rachele Hollingsworth on March 21, 2019:
While I love every holiday and am a sicko that kind of enjoys the stress of preparing for family gatherings, I DO agree with a lot of this. Like Valentine’s Day and any other commercialized holiday, it is kind of silly to force affection and appreciation when you should be showing it all of the time. But I will always treasure every cheesy handprint craft my kids give me, whatever the holiday may be!
Blair villanueva on March 20, 2019:
I dont find it stressful at all, probably because we dont celebrate it at home. What makes it stressful for me is when i surprise my Mom during no occasion days. That is more fun and sweet.
Though Mother's Day is also nice!
Ashlee on March 20, 2019:
I won't lie, Mother's Day is one of those times of the year that stresses me all the way out, and I love the idea of showing and expressing how you feel about someone when you feel it, not solely on one day. It was wonderful hearing about the history of the Day, a tale that gets lost in the louder, commercial voices and it's so heartbreaking that after so much work it turned out to be a day that has lost most of its sentiment. Hopefully we can start with putting the right sentiment behind this Day again so that it's original meaning lives on.
Tracy@ Cleland Clan on March 20, 2019:
You have several valid points in this post. Many of our local churches have done away with Mother-Daughter banquets because of these reasons, choosing to call them Daughter Banquets instead since every woman is a daughter. Our family has never made a lot of fuss over Mother’s Day, so doing away with it would not bother me.
Snehal on March 20, 2019:
I completely agree! On most of the days... mothers are ignored. Mothers needs to be reminded how precious they are. Every, single, day!
clio on March 19, 2019:
I agree with all of it. I'm not against any holiday, in general, but I do think that we should remind ourselves of our loved ones any day, and not either feel forced nor force anyone to do things for us.
RTalloni on March 13, 2019:
A brave post... :) ...with lots of food for thought.
Liz Westwood from UK on March 11, 2019:
This gives a more balanced view of Mother's Day looking at it from many different angles.