Mother’s Day for most women means sloppy kisses, burnt toast in bed, cards, and flowers. Unfortunately, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many women. Some women have mothers who’ve passed away, have difficult relationships with their own mothers, or are childless. Perhaps the hardest hit among this group are women without children.
Whether a woman is childless by choice or by chance, Mother’s Day can stir up a lot of negative feelings and emotions. If a woman you love doesn’t have children, Mother’s Day is an important time to be aware of her feelings. She doesn’t want you to stop celebrating mothers. But she does need you to be respectful and conscious of her experience. So how can you help?
Reconsider the definition of “mother”
The world is filled with mothers. A mother selflessly gives and helps those around them. She nurtures children. She helps those around her deal with difficult things. A mother can be a teacher, aunt, or friend. Mothering has less to do with having children and more to do with how you treat the children in your life.
Redefine what the word “mother” means. It can mean a stepmother doing all she can for a child she didn’t give birth to or a teacher who worries about and helps students in her class. As you redefine the word “mother,” the focus on Mother’s Day changes from honoring women with children to honoring all women.
Give them permission to stay home
Mother’s Day is filled with outings. Does your friend attend a church where mothers in the congregation will be singled out and honored? Give her permission to stay home. Don’t push her to attend an event where she’ll be uncomfortable whether she stands to be recognized or not. Do you meet as a family for a Mother’s Day brunch? Let her skip it. A lot of people are unsure whether or not to invite a friend or family member to something of this nature. A good rule of thumb is: Always invite, but let her know you’ll understand if she decides not to come.
Ask her what she wants
The best way to know what your childless friend will want for Mother’s Day is to ask her. Let her be selfish for one day, just like you would with any mother on Mother’s Day. If she wants to take a long bubble bath by herself, let her. If she wants to be recognized like any other mother would (complete with chocolates and flowers), make it happen. If she wants to stay home watching movies, that works too. Her experience and her desires are just as valid as any other woman’s.
Reconsider your greetings
Are you quick to throw out a “Happy Mother’s Day” to every woman you meet in the week or so proceeding the holiday? 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.”
Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate all women, whether they have children or not, and part of celebrating all women means being aware and respectful of all women’s experiences on Mother’s Day. Even women without children. A little extra thoughtfulness can help make this day enjoyable for everyone.