Mother’s Day is excessive and unhelpful, if anyone should get a card, it’s my son

If you find yourself feeling sad, angry or in conflict with Mother’s Day I promise you’re not alone. I find it difficult, even uncomfortable. While I love being a mom, and is the first to celebrate itevery day, this specific celebration of all the motherhood I could really do without.

Mother’s Day can be challenging for many different reasons, from grief to alienation. For me, the day (along with Father’s Day) shines a bright light on all the potential unwanted challenges my four-year-old son may face.

As child of same-sex female parentswho is now separated amicably and is co-parenting with aplomb, he hardly has the most conventional family setup.

It has at times been confusing, even annoying, for him to accept that he cannot wake up or go to bed close to both parents. Not that he is the only one; there are plenty of atypical families in south London, including one of his best friends who was conceived with donor sperm for a single mother. Both boys will participate in Dad’s day-card activity at school and go home without anyone giving it to.

In some ways it’s sad, but maybe it’s just another important part of life’s rich tapestry, as my own mother always used to say. By having elements of his life that will be painful and require elaboration, my son will be more normal than ever.

After all, what is an ideal childhood? I have never met anyone who, no matter what family they were born into, did not travel through life without a longing for something they did not get, nor a need to grieve as adults over something they did not have as young people.

Despite our unconventional setup, my son’s second mother and I get it right, much of the time. The most crucial elements are in place: here is a small person who is cared for consistently, with two stable homes and surrounded by love and extended family.

The affection and care he receives is unmanageable and he is a confident and loving child.

We also try, as much as possible, to adapt to him emotionally and acknowledge the abundance of emotions he feels, and help him grow into a confident, resilient person in the midst of the trials of today’s life. However, there is no doubt that the existence of a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day brings a number of issues into focus.

I wonder: are there things we should do to help him adapt and accept his reality with a minimum of sacrifice or loss? Shouldn’t we also teach him to think of himself as lucky to have two mothers, or unlucky not to have a father?

Sometimes he will feel rubbish about having no father, and sometimes he will feel fine. Other times, he may not feel anything at all because he is so busy feeling for a lot of other things that occupy the main place for a school-age child.

Every year at this point, I see posts on social media expressing how difficult it can be to feel compelled to celebrate the mother-child relationship. Some have little to celebrate, busy navigating complex dynamics with parents (absent or present).

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For many of us, Mother’s Day is just as unhelpful or superfluous in celebrating mother-child love. as Valentine’s Day is in celebration of romantic love. It feels filled with the typical polarization that inhabits so much of our culture around love and relationships in general. Mother’s Day is in one way excessive and in another unjustified. Why do we need to know when to send a card or take our mom (s) out for brunch?

Maybe you want to answer that it’s just a chance to say thank you, or an excuse to give a little love. But why do you need a direction to do this? Why do we as mothers and fathers demand such an obvious and public celebration?

And if we do, then why is not there also children’s day? In France, at least, they celebrate grandmothers and grandfathers on other specific days.

Really, what does this artificial, time-limited celebration of a certain type of relationship help us with? Buy your mom a card every day just because you want to. And make your kids a card, just because, so good.

My son has given me as much (if not more) than I have given him during the nearly five years of his life. There is no sacrifice I have made that is not matched or overtaken by what I have achieved. If there’s anyone in our family unit who should get a card on Mother’s Day, and especially on Father’s Day, it must be my little boy.

Lucy Fry is a journalist and psychotherapist

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