Monday, May 10, 2010

Why I Dislike Mother's Day

There are lots of good reasons not to like Mother's Day. Some of them may be found here. The latest issue of Bitch Magazine also has a great article about it. Here are my reasons...

I am not a mother. I am not a mother by choice. Many women do not have children because they were not able to have children. It's simply uncomfortable to have this day that makes motherhood out to be the noblest and best thing a woman can ever do. I actually had someone wish me a happy Mother's Day this year, perhaps assuming from my age that of course I am a mother. How could I not be? Who would choose not to have children? Mother's Day reinforces the idea that to be a woman one must bear a child, and there must be something wrong with us if we don't.

I don't have a good mother. I have a mother who neglected and abandoned her children. One who allowed her husband to verbally abuse her children, and who herself verbally abused her children. Mother's Day thanks mothers for all the cooking, cleaning, and caring they do for their children throughout the years. My mother laid on the couch reading Harlequin novels while she made her children clean. I was cooking for my family before I was 10. I was rarely cared for by my mother. I remember trying to find my mother a card on several occasions throughout the years, and feeling like all these cards were rubbing my less-than-pleasant childhood in my face. To give my mother any of those cards would have been a lie. I would either leave empty handed, or with some humorous card that masked the truth of the matter, that I had nothing to celebrate or honor.

There's nothing inherently noble or saintly about squeezing out a kid. In fact, most female mammals have the ability, and most of those who can do it, do it. Many people do it because it's what they think they're supposed to do, it's what's expected of them. Maybe they are trying to fill a void in their life or save a troubled marriage. Some do it to keep up with their friends or family members. Some women actually do it because they like the attention they get while pregnant.

Choosing to bring a life into this world is a responsibility and privilege that too many people think of as a right, and too many others don't think much about at all. It requires real sacrifice and hard work, and you must be willing to put that life ahead of your own. It also means choosing to forgo many other possibilities for your life, some that might bring you more happiness and some that might make the world a better place.

And let's not forget that just because a woman CAN have a child, doesn't mean she SHOULD. It is not the defining quality of womanhood. I am a creative, intelligent, passionate woman who has a world of choices in front of me. Choosing to own a business, to be an activist or any other choice I make in lieu of procreating are just as valid, and perhaps moreso, depending on my situation in life and what I have to offer the world.

Children need to be loved, cared for, educated, and mentored. Anyone who does these things well should be honored and celebrated, but not because Hallmark says so. Just because you gave birth doesn't mean you have done any of these things, and you do not have to be a biological mother to nurture and love a child.