What is the hardest holiday for a single gal? Christmas, Valentine’s or Mother’s Day? The holiday in May used to be the most innocuous of them all, but things are different now. The majority of friends have gone on to have their own children, and mother’s days are no longer about the generation of women who brought us to this world but the contemporaries.
Husbands post pictures of friends holding their offspring basking in the Kodak glow of motherhood. “Happy Mother’s Day to my wife. You are amazing.” (And you, hubbers, make me cringe.)
Or my friends post a sentimental shout-out: “There is nothing more selfless than being a mother. Thank you, mom. I can never fill your shoes, but I will try.”
Cue three generation photo.
What about the marginalized folks on this Hallmark holiday? The ones who recently lost their mothers, the ones desperately trying to become biological mothers, the ones who are de facto moms but are passed over for recognition…
A couple of years ago during my volunteer work, a runaway teen walked through the doors seeking much needed help. She had been staying with older men she described as boyfriends but starting that night had nowhere to go. She asked we get in touch with her mother, who had kicked her out of her house for being “a troublemaker.” Out of ear shot, the social worker told me she spoke to the mother twice, but the mom was out celebrating her birthday and didn’t want to be bothered. The mother had formally relinquished custody of her daughter a couple years ago, the social worker explained, and had zero obligation to take care of her. “Her parents, if you will, is the city of New York.” Neither of us could deliver the devastating truth to the girl, so we lied about her mother not picking up the phone.
All moms are not created equal. They are not universally perfect just because they carried a baby for nine months. Moms come in different shapes and forms. Life isn’t as straightforward as mom to daughter to grandchild. But the Mainstream Mom Club all too easily forgets those who are not part of their circle. “Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there!” And like that, in one sweep of unintentional discrimination the rest of us are swept into one heap of insignificance.
“Mom” is a loaded word these days.
Here’s to wishing a happy mother’s day to all the microagressive moms as well as all the proxy moms and non-traditional-moms. As role models to the children, perhaps next year we can demonstrate that motherly love stands for inclusivity.