Yesterday was Mother’s Day. For many, it was a time to celebrate the special men and women who have taken care of us throughout our lifetime. For others, it was a day of grief. Their mothers may have passed, and people remembered the marks they left on their lives. Many mothers may have mourned the death of their child/children. And others may have been lamenting the fact they would never have children of their own. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are a blessing and a curse depending on which realm you fall under because those days have different meanings for everyone.
Many people wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, and I wanted to scream that I’m not a mother. Sadie is the closest thing I get to being a mom, and I don’t always count my cat as my child. I can’t take her to the places I would take a child to, and the conversations that I have had with her have only given me glances and her tail turning in the opposite direction. Cat temper tantrums are nothing compared to the tantrums of children. There might be a few exceptions to this rule because the show “My Cat From Hell” would not exist if all cats were sweet all the time.
One thing that grates on my nerves is when people say that I can’t possibly understand what they are going through because I’ve never had a child. Newsflash folks. I have eyes. I have life experience, and I have common sense. Yes, I do know how hard it is. I watched someone I cared about sincerely raise four kids on her own and was with her through thick and thin. I know the sacrifices she made and the criticism she faced. Because those decisions affected her, they also influenced me. Why? Because I invested myself in that friendship and her kids. No matter how far apart we drift in life, that will never change. And yes, I’m acutely aware that I could leave at any time, and she had to deal with raising her kids. I may not have been under the same roof that she was, but I know the struggles she has faced, and no one can tell me that I can’t understand when I saw the challenges she conquered.
Or there’s the fact that people tell me that they feel sorry for me because I’ll never know the true love of a child. Really? Do people have to rub salt in that wound? Being childless in society can be challenging enough without people throwing their two cents in. I’m all for celebrating our moms and the impact they have had on our lives. (Dads count in this too.) I’m not okay with people who have to guilt childless people for not having kids.
For one thing, people as a whole have no idea what that person has gone through. They may have medical conditions that prevented them from carrying. They might have tried to foster or adopt and prevented from that option. Money talks and bullshit walks. It’s sad when people who make great parents cannot adopt or foster due to finances or other reasons. Our society stresses having biological children, and plenty of women give their babies up for adoption because they can’t take care of them.
Many women choose not to have children, and they hear about why they are selfish. Give me a freaking break. It’s their body. Did it ever occur to others that they chose not to have children for many different reasons? Maybe they didn’t find a partner with whom they could have children or perhaps don’t like kids. No matter what the reason, society has lumped women into a Mother’s Day category, and it sucks.
I’m not taking anything away from the women and men who serve in a Mother’s role. All I’m asking is that people take a sensitivity pill when it comes to celebrating that day. Infertility is tough for people who struggle with that issue, and so is the perception that women face. When everyone around you is having babies and looked at like a reject, it can feel not very comforting. What’s important is people remember every one of us is on different journeys. Some will be parents, and others will blaze different paths. People need to stop judging others for what they don’t have and focus on the contributions that people bring. If you are one of the folks who always say “Happy Mothers Day” to those without children, it might be time to stop. Because every woman’s experience is different, your greeting may not be welcome, and Mother’s Day for them might not be all that happy. Instead, opt for a simple “Have a good day” or “it’s so good to see you.”
If you are one of the millions of childless women, I hope you had an incredible day to celebrate. You don’t have to be a mother to validate your worth. What you need to do is recognize your emotions and do something for yourself. It’s a good thing to be selfish every once in a while. There are a lot of people working hard. I tip my hat to the men and women raising families in today’s world. But when you don’t have kids, you have a different kind of busy life. Many people forget that expectations to take care of so many other things. I’ve often heard from others that I didn’t have the responsibilities of taking care of children, and I don’t dispute that argument. I disagree with the ignorance of others who think that other women and I have no other obligations. Families, work, friends, bills, responsibilities, volunteering, and self-care take up time.
We may not have diapers to change, but we do have people who depend on us. Do people think they are so much better because they have kids? Some do. Others forget what it’s like to be childless. My point is simple. There are lots of reasons many women do not have children. They don’t get recognition, but they do get criticized a lot. Society should celebrate Mothers for Mother’s Day because they make Supergirl look like silly putty for the tasks they routinely achieve. But for the men and women that routinely get told Happy Mother’s Day when they don’t fit in that category, remember that you are celebrated by those who understand where you struggle, to those people, Happy Strength Day. It takes a lot of strength to stand up to those who try to make you feel inferior. Never forget that power takes all forms, shapes, people, and motivations. Celebrate the women and men that are mothers and mother figures, but don’t assume that the day is an easy one for all women. You never know what battles they face. Have a great day, everyone.