La Vie Childfree

Talk Childfree & Beyond with Laura Carroll

My Mom on the right; her Mom on the left who has since passed away…

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I want to bring back some thoughts I shared three years ago now.

On Mother’s Day I am of mixed minds. Don’t get me wrong; I love my mother and would celebrate her and how she raised me any day of the week.

But -  Mother’s Day as a national holiday:

Is a national reinforcement of pronatalist values

The holiday exalts motherhood, and all the myths that surround it. There are many but let’s start with– it’s “the” ticket to fulfillment in life for women. It reinforces the belief that motherhood is synonymous with womanhood, which continues to limit the boundaries of female identity to the confines of maternity.  It continues to glorify motherhood and children and perpetuates the assumption that all women should want to become mothers. Simply put, it perpetuates a pronatalist society.

Neglects all who mother

Mothers are obviously key to the raising of children. But they are not the only ones who influence the raising of a child. I’d like to see the holiday be “Mothering” Day—a day in which we celebrate the women in our lives who have had special impact on us. Mothers aren’t the only ones who love, have patience, listen, nurture, guide, care for, and set good examples for children.  Many people, parents or not, contribute to the lives of children in powerful ways.

“Mother’s” Day focuses only on the person who gave birth to the child—so many more people play a part in a child’s life, and they play an important role throughout his/her life.  “Mothering Day” should become a day in which everyone celebrates all who helped raise them and who have played an important role in their lives.

This Sunday I’ll celebrate my mother, my deceased grandmother, my deceased childfree godmother, and all of the women role models and mentors who have been in my life.  There is a place for non-parents in the holiday.

It shouldn’t just be celebrating the person who gave birth to you. It should celebrate all of the women who helped you become all you can be~

Childfree–how do you experience Mother’s Day?

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Comments (16)Posted by Laura on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

16 Responses to “Childfree Thoughts About Mother’s Day” Add your own

  • deegee said:

    Mother’s Day is hardly a special day for me any more. My mother passed away in 1995 at the age of 59. If I want to “visit” her, she is buried in a cemetery about a 10-minute drive from where I live. Until a few years ago, I would drive over there on Mother’s Day but I decided to stop torturing myself that way. With other recent deaths of my older relatives (who are buried at the same location), I get the chance to pay my respects now and then.

    Otherwise, it is for me at best just another Sunday in May.

  • Laura said:

    Deegee, I am sorry to hear that your mother passed away awhile back and at a young age–my mother passing is a day I can’t fathom at this point and will be one of the most dificult….~L

  • Meah said:

    Laura, too bad all CFs don’t have the capability to speak so eloquently about what being CF is about. I’m a mother and I was introduced to an extreme CF board recently. Before that I never even knew that CFs dealt with the issues that are out there. I respect the reasons that CFs choose to not have children and I agree, children certainly aren’t for everyone. However the extreme forums where CFs bash “breeders” “moos” and all the other names that they had on there–all that does is discredit the “CF movement” (I put it in quotes because I don’t want to call it a movement but I hope you get what I mean) People get turned off and turn away without bothering to try to understand and accept the CF lifestyle when presented with the things said about those with children. I think it would be beneficial for CFs to make the separation between being proud of making the choice to be CF and focusing on hating and ranting on those who have children. It really discredits CF in general.

    I really hope this didn’t come off as condescending or holier-than-thou. I’m a mom yet I can respect those that are CF. Really and truly. I have my reasons for being happy with children and CFs have their reasons for being happy without children. But how does hating on “breeders” benefit either group?

    I understand that CFs are unfairly treated by people who don’t understand or know any better. But CFs do understand and do know better but some still choose to spew the hate right back out. I don’t understand why someone who is mistreated would intentionally mistreat others.

  • Sara said:

    As a CF woman, Mother’s Day was interesting this year. I honored my own mother, of course. But many people wished me a Happy Mother’s Day… which I thought strange (that hasn’t happened in the past). It was almost just a reflex, like saying “Happy Holidays” at Christmas. When I pointed out that I’m not a mother, but a mom to 2 very spoiled cats, they laughed and acknowledged that many people consider their pets as part of the family. So that definitely took any awkwardness away. :)

  • Laura said:

    I get the almost reflex-ness re wishing women a Happy Mother’s Day, but underneath that just confirms the assumption that “you must be a mother” – I’d rather the reflex be–Which women in your life are you celebrating today? Maybe someday…~L

  • Laura said:

    I do think it is unproductive to bash — it happens on either side, not just childless by choice directing it to parents. Parents bash at CFs too.
    See a past post for an example of this:
    http://laviechildfree.com/2010/02/a-momversations-view-of-the-childfree/#more-936

    The mistreatment on both sides boils down to each side just not understanding each other. It is so easy to go to judgment when this is the case instead of trying to get to some level of understanding and acceptance. This happens in so many situations where people are different, such as ethnicity, race, or religious beliefs, which all historically have taken this to extremes. I am glad as a parent you don’t feel judged when visiting and commenting on this blog. It is one of my goals!
    ~L

  • Sara said:

    I think it’s fine to have a day that honors mothers exclusively (and I’m a CF woman). Why not set aside a day to honor those who sacrifice so much to raise children? They have a very hard job, afterall (I don’t want that job!). I don’t think we have to change Mother’s Day to a day for all women… or a day for all those who “mother”… we all mother to an extent. Even men who feed their dogs are ‘mothering’, if you think about it. As CF people, we need to just go about our merry way and be comfortable with our choices. I didn’t decide to be an “administrative assistant,” yet I’m fine with administrative assistants having their own special day, and so forth. We just need acceptance by the community, and for them to acknowledge that our lifestyle is legitimate and good in its own right… even if it is “different.” That’s all I’m asking for. We’ll probably always be the minority… be outside the mainstream, and that’s okay as long as our choices are respected.

  • Laura said:

    I am with you on celebrating those who raise children. I guess I just ponder what would be a way to also honor other women who play an important role in a child’s life that are not acknowledged enough becasue society focuses so much on the mother. I also want to find ways to lessen our society’s child-centric focus, as it is one of the biggest reasons why our choice is not fully accepted…keep giving your thoughts! ~L

  • Shannon said:

    I’m actually more offended if I am not wished Happy Mother’s Day myself. Sure my kids aren’t human, but they ARE my children. They are the closest thing to grandkids my parents will get.

    Also, I HAVE a mother so by that fact alone Mother’s Day is also my day. If it weren’t for me nobody would be telling my mom Happy Mother’s Day or honoring her in any way so to me it’s only right that Mother’s Day be about everybody. I think it’s fairly safe to say that everyone has a mother, whether living or deceased – or some mothering figure (a grandmother or aunt) who helped raise them.

    I’d be happy if it just became the common attitude that Mother’s Day is everyone’s day – Those who are mothers and those who have mothers or “mother” others in some way…

  • Scott said:

    Is there a Childfree Day out there somewhere? I’d be happier to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day if there was some sort of “Nonparents Day” on the calendar. As long as I get my day, I’m perfectly fine helping others celebrate their day.

    Heck, I’d settle for something totally generic, like “Reproductive Choices Day.” That way everyone who’s made any choice can celebrate it. I’ll share that day with parents. I can’t wait until Hallmark comes out with a card that says “Thanks for not reproducing.” I would take that card as a compliment.

    Come to think of it, I guess April 15th is the day every year in the U.S. where childfree people come face to face with how society treats people without dependents. It’s “Tax on Childless People Day.”

    To be fair, though, I know some mothers who are very ambivalent and Mother’s Day, because it’s sort of a mixed blessing. It reminds them of their conflicted feelings about parenthood, or it reminds them of how far reality is from the ideal, or reminds them how little appreciation they get the rest of the year. One mom I know hates Mother’s Day, because it means her little girl makes breakfast, makes a huge inedible mess, and Mom has to clean it all up later. Mother’s Day sometimes means MORE work for moms, not a day off.

  • Scott said:

    P.S. At some churches, mothers in the congregation get a flower or other token of appreciation on Mother’s Day. I wonder how that’s supposed to make all the other women feel….

  • Laura said:

    This year I would like to bring back what the National alliance for NonParenthood did years ago in the the late 70s – Aug 1 as Non-Parents Day – well, maybe not call it that but the same idea. I plan to gather childfree bloggers to do shout outs for nominations, selections of ‘winner (s)’ and post across the digital sphere….Anyone reading this, if you are interested in helping make this happen, contact me directly! laura@lauracarroll.com

  • Laura said:

    Exactly. Making motherhood, and biological motherhood at that what is to be celebrated speaks volumes about how we value all the other ways women contribute to the lives of children, families, their communities and our world…

  • Jen said:

    In answer to Scott –
    At church on Mother’s Day they have the great grandmas stand up and they are given a flower..then the grandmas…then the moms…by then all but about 2 or 3 women in the church are standing up…then they have the “aunts and sisters” stand up so that the 2 or 3 women can stand up and get a flower and don’t feel left out. As one of those 2 or 3 women not standing up when all the moms are called to stand up, how do I feel? Very uncomfortable.

  • Laura said:

    Boy I’ll say – I also think how the women who want (ed) children and could not or did not have them feel in a situation like that…

  • Scott said:

    I’m also wondering why any gratitude necessary, if (IF!) motherhood is the most wonderful thing in the world and you wouldn’t trade it for the world and it’s totally worth all the downsides. Why are we thanking people for doing something that’s supposed to be so much in their best interest?

    Unless we’re saying that it’s a totally thankless job and mothers welcome any scrap of anything positive just to break the monotony of it.

    If it’s bad, then why are we telling people to do it?

    If it’s so wonderful for you, then why do you need to be thanked?

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