Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

On Mothers’ Day


(In which I self-plagiarize from my FB.)

I woke up this morning (on a very lumpy pile of blankets at the foot of my bed, because the sick/teething baby apparently requires the entire width of a queen bed to herself) thinking about Mothers’ Day, in particular about all the ways today is painful for my friends.  I am thinking about people whose mothers have died, who have or had difficult relationships with their mothers, who feel their mothers were missing.  I am thinking of mothers whose children have died, of people who desperately want to be mothers and aren’t, of people for whom motherhood wasn’t a choice, of people for whom motherhood is so difficult that it is at least sometimes a regret.  I think of women who don’t want to have children and have been told they are selfish, that they aren’t really real women if they don’t; I am thinking of women who are told they aren’t old enough or rich enough or normative enough to be mothers, that they should give their children to someone better.  I am thinking of mothers who are told, for a hundred reasons, that they aren’t Real Mothers.  I am thinking of mothers whose motherhood feels invisible or uncelebrated by a holiday that holds up as an ideal a model of family life that has never in history been true for all families, that even at its high-water mark in the 1950s was not true for most poor families or many non-white, native-born ones.  I am thinking of mothers who want to be spoiled today and aren’t, of mothers sharing the day with others, sometimes uneasily, of children made to feel in some way that their families are made wrong. 

(An aside: teachers, I hope you will  consider not making these holidays part of school.  I am so glad they aren’t at The Bean’s school.)

Today I am thinking about how all those things are connected to the ways our culture defines motherhood as an individual choice/activity, a definition that is used as a excuse to make maternity leave available only for “lucky” mothers whose employers choose to give it, to make childcare the responsibility of individual families, and so on.  And I am thinking about the real roots of Mothers’ Day as a call to radical, communal action.  Better sanitation to benefit all children in Appalachia, mothers united to oppose war for the sake of all their sons.  It’s easy to see why those ideas had to be domesticated and Hallmark’d right out.  I’d like a little more of them in today.

8 thoughts on “On Mothers’ Day

  1. Yes.

    There’s probably a mathematical formula that accounts for why tiny people can take up so much bed space.

  2. My mama sent me the link, resulting in lots of tears. This despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that neither of us celebrates the holiday. I am sorry your mother isn’t here today. I am grateful she raised you to be so strong, and thoughtful, and brave.

  3. I don’t really like to celebrate for all of the reasons you outline. And I am often surprised by how grateful I am that our daycare doesn’t celebrate holidays. It’s going to be quite an adjustment when we move to schools that inevitably will. I hope you and your gassy baby (ha!) and non-gassy big kid and lovely partner had a good weekend regardless of the unbroken waves of advertising.

  4. YES!!! To all of this!

    Dreading that I have to inform both Sunshine’s kindergarten teacher and afterschool teacher that she will make the Father’s Day projects for her grandfather.

  5. I wish it were that simple, that we could just skip the holidays in class. Unfortunately you look like a big ole jerk if you do. So unless it’s a schoolwide deal I’ll have to keep figuring it out in the classroom. I tried to make Mothers’ Day as inclusive as possible this year in class. We made cards (they were pretty sweet actually, with their hand holding a bunch of collage cut flowers on the front, and poems about their moms/caregivers inside). I wrote a separate form for my kiddo who lives with grandparents, and my kiddo with two moms made two. I actually really liked getting handprint flowers from Juju’s preschool, and I loved that she made one for each of us. I try whenever possible in the classroom to look at holidays as a way to teach children generosity. The kids I teach are very poor and don’t have a lot of opportunities to give to others though they often have very giving hearts.

    • I know it’s not up to most teachers, and the way you handle it sounds nice. I quite like a nice handprint, myself. I have seen so much angst about Mothers’ Day crafts among my friends. Examples: kids told they can only do one, cue misery from two moms; kids with dead mothers feeling left out/reminded of loss. I don’t know what we will do about Fathers’ Day when the time comes — I’m sure the Bean’s school next year will do these days; he doesn’t have a local grandfather, any uncles, etc. I guess he’ll just pick some random friend of ours? Awkward.

      Meanwhile, around I think Halloween, there was another pile of angst about those holidays from a straight parenting group I’m in. I hadn’t thought about people who might have strong aversions to so-called secular holidays, but wow, did I learn a thing or two. The Bean’s school is, granted, a pre-school, where the kids are unlikely to expect any particular thing in terms of holidays, but they seem to have a grand old time with just birthdays and season celebrations.

      On Mon, May 11, 2015 at 1:03 PM, Bionic Mamas wrote:


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