Motherhood is complex. It only makes sense that Mother’s Day brings up a lot of complicated thoughts and emotions for people—joy, sadness, anger, confusion. This complexity doesn’t mean it’s not worth acknowledging. It’s just important to embrace a Mother’s Day message that honors a variety of experiences and is sensitive to how this day impacts people differently.
In the context of our unique community, most people will never fully understand what it's like to care for a child with chronic or life-threatening illness. Some of us struggle with isolation, exhaustion, and anticipatory grief. Others still have lost a child. With billions of people in the world, Mother’s Day is endlessly nuanced and often very painful.
Words are powerful, so this year, why not put a little thought into how, when, why, and whether you wish someone a happy Mother’s Day.
We don’t know what everyone has been through— there’s no way we could, so sometimes, less is more. For example, “I’m thinking of you today,” if you’re reaching out individually, or if you’re talking to a wider audience, “Sending love to all kinds of mothers.” It’s not so much that you have to list every type of mother (doing so may even seem a little ingenious), but you should try to hold space for them.
Be kind, curious, and empathetic. In general, it’s important to be aware that the experience of being a parent/being parented is not cookie cutter. Stay curious about how other people walk through life. It doesn’t mean you should pry or try to gain access to their story, just practice empathy before you speak. Also, be open to learning from other types of mothers, whether that means reading an article, listening to a podcast, or following someone on social media.
Weigh your words and tailor your messaging. As previously mentioned, Mother’s Day is complex, but complexity can be beautiful. When you recognize the power of words, you can take responsibility for how you relate to and connect with others. In some cases, that might mean you choose to say nothing at all. Also, if someone tells you that your words hurt, believe them, and do your own work to understand why.
For most people, recognizing Mother’s Day is more complicated than bringing home a bouquet of flowers, sending a letter in the mail, or posting multiple paragraphs on social media about your experiences as a parent or as a child. For whoever needs to hear this—There is no wrong way to feel about Mother’s Day. For everyone else, be mindful of all the positive and negative emotions that might arise this year for the people you love.