2015 was a really sucky year. We got burgled. Several of my friends lost children. Two more friends (that I know of, there may be others who have chosen not to divulge that information to me) were told that growing humans within their uterus is likely never going to happen. Several of my friends lost their Mums. One of my friends lost his wife. There just aren’t the words.
I was really more than any other year previous, bugged by Mother’s Day to the point where I was like “I am NOT taking part in this ANY MORE!”
I’ve not really shared this before here, though I did talk about it and some of my women’s health experiences on my old blogs. At 22, I was unofficially told that I had endometriosis – I’ve never been officially diagnosed properly because that involves surgery and I didn’t have the energy to fight for it (remember how I told you I lacked self-motivation? perfect example.) What was certain was that I will struggle to try and have my own children whatever the label is to what causes the joyous myriad of symptoms I’ve had since I was a teen. The treatment that I have been on since I was 25 has changed my life completely. It has had it’s pros and cons. The pros being that I haven’t been in A&E, take a lot less painkillers and have saved a lot of money on the things I used to have to buy to deal with all the ‘endo fun’… The cons being that it made me put on an extra 25% of my body weight, and my body has aged in a way women’s bodies do when they are in menopause. Because essentially that’s what the medication that is injected into me every few months does. Puts me in menopause.
Less than a year after this news, I moved back to Edinburgh. I was away from the close knit church community and family of friends (the kind of friends that had keys to my flat and used them to let themselves in with them). I was in a city with family I hadn’t told about my sort of diagnosis because I knew how much it would upset them. And the church I was in was very upper middle class and socialising was done by appointment only, and much more blood family orientated. The people were (and are) lovely. But it was a massive culture shock, and I was a bit of a culture shock to them too. And the two ministries I served in, were very male-dominated. I shamefully found it difficult to explain what was going on with me. I hid in toilets wretching in pain praying I wouldn’t pass out. I wore pain relief patches underneath my clothes and took painkillers backstage when I thought no one was looking. I told them I had bugs that I didn’t have when I was simply in too much pain to walk or drive.
The first mother’s day, they were handing out flowers to all the Mums. Sermons about motherhood being the toughest job in the world. I felt inferior. I felt like a failure. I was grieving for a dream that was not going to come true. It was just too painful to sit and hear how tough and awesome it is. I was bitter, sad, and resentful. So instead of moving past the flowers, I turned around. I went back to my car and held back the tears until I got back home. Grateful for it’s emptiness, I crawled onto my bed and sobbed into my pillow for an hour. The next time I made it to a church service on Mother’s Day I sprained my ankle trying to get to church. I’ve not been back on Mother’s Day since! 🙂
I later found out the true history behind UK Mother’s Day. Originally it was called Mothering Sunday and had nothing to do with parenting at all. It was all about making a pilgrimage to your home church during lent. Because it was one of the few days the lower classes got to have off so they could participate in this ritual, it gradually became a day they spent with their families because it was the only day of the year they could. Somewhere along the line it evolved into giving flowers to mothers, then the tradition of returning to your ‘mother church’ was lost. An attempted revival of the Mothering Sunday tradition in USA meant that companies saw an opportunity for marketing…and now we get innundated with adverts for flowers, chocolates, gifts, lunches…to celebrate mothers.
This of course is not the only Christian tradition that has been commercialised. Christmas, Easter, Shrove Tuesday can all join the list! But why do I not celebrate this day?
It’s mainly because of all the sadness and pressure it creates – it is a strictly family day. Christmas (I hope) is one where families invite outsiders in to join their family and celebrate the day together. That doesn’t happen with the parenting holidays.
I do however, think that parenting is the toughest work in the world. I think that we need to encourage and celebrate those that do this work. But a bit like Valentine’s Day, I don’t think we need to decide on one day a year that we do this. One of the things I like to say on my friend’s birthdays is that I’m so happy they were born and make a big deal of them. I hope their kids give them gifts and cards, hugs and love! I also hope that throughout the year, us childless folks can give a little respite to our parenting friends whether it’s babysitting for a couple of hours so they can have some adult time, or cooking a meal or sending round a bottle of gin and some chocolate when their kids have tested their patience and ability to survive on little sleep to the limit.
I would love if churches brought back Mothering Sunday and skipped Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I particularly don’t want to be singled out for prayer for my infertility on Mother’s Day (as much as I appreciate you trying to be sensitive to my lack of motherhood). Because it would be nice if we can do things as a church family together. If we want to. I get that some people are quite happy to spend a day alone. But I’d love if aloneness was optional rather than caused by circumstances and family status.
I want to celebrate all my friends.
Not just the mothers and fathers.