I was 14 when my Mother died, and Mother’s Day became a day of grieving for me. In my twenties, infertility and miscarriage created another path of grief for this holiday. In my thirties (now blessed with four children), I’m realizing a new form of grief that can accompany Mother’s day…..being forgotten.
In the deluge of social media tributes to moms, daughters, sisters, and wives…my tribute was absent. According to Hallmark, Mother’s Day is the third-largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with 113 million cards exchanged annually. Zero of those cards were for me.
Mother’s Day accounts for roughly 12-14% of annual floral sales at 1800Flowers.com while Valentine’s Day only accounts for roughly 9-10%. Out of millions of flowers purchased, zero were for me.
Snappy Living reports that Mother’s Day is typically the busiest day of the year for any restaurant, thanks to the popular tradition of taking Mom out to dinner so – for one day of the year, at least – she won’t have to cook and clean up. Around 7pm I gave up hoping and threw a box of uncrustable sandwiches at my children and then ate a bag of chips for dinner.
122 million phone calls were made to tell Mothers they were loved. Raise your hand if you got zero calls. (My hand is raised).
Almost 85% of adult men and women celebrate Mother’s Day. What are the other 15% doing? Do they not have women in their life worthy of a few acts of kindness and appreciation?
To those of you who have good mothers in your lives that you failed to celebrate – shame on you. I cannot think of a good reason why you would withhold a kind word, gesture, or small gift from another human being. Busyness, laziness, selfishness, and sloth come to mind. Do you even know the messages you are sending to her? Do you realize the pain you are actively causing her with your inaction?
It hurts. As a forgotten mom this year, I feel unseen, unloved, unworthy of being honored, hopeless, depressed, taken for granted, and angry. The negative voices swirled around my head as I tried to figure out what I did wrong, why my feelings don’t matter to my family, and why I wasn’t worth a little time and thought from my husband. I love to love my family….so why don’t they love to love me?
To those of you moms who were forgotten – I’m not going to give you platitudes and fake encouragement, but here are some thoughts I’ve had as I’m working through my own pain:
1. This Sucks. You don’t have to sweep it under the rug and bury your disappointment inside yourself. You are allowed to be sad and disappointed. I would discourage you from acting angry and hostile though…because really you’re just hurt. Anger is the secondary emotion. The primary emotion you felt was pain, but anger seemed to be a more comfortable emotion to bask in. While you may want to run with that secondary emotion of anger, it will not help you heal the primary (pain-filled) wound.
2. You Are Not Alone. I see you, girl. I’m reading the social media posts, seeing the flowers in the stores, and driving past the jam-packed parking lots of nail salons and popular brunch spots (in non-Covid19 years). You spend the day popping back and forth between bracing yourself for the pain of being forgotten and being hopeful there is still a surprise to come that will make it all okay. I’m a good Mom and you are too. Our worth is not determined by how others treat us.
3. Treat Yourself. I know it’s not the same, but since everyone else got pretty things and pampered yesterday, maybe it’s a good day to have a “Mom Monday” and treat yourself to a (self)pedicure, brunch(delivery), and a movie(streamed). Take yourself on a date and buy yourself a treat (even if it has to be online shopping and ordering delivery).
4. Keep Being You. Keep being selfless, rising above, and loving that family that doesn’t always deserve it. They’re your people and they do have redeeming qualities (well…some of them do). Forgive them for their shortcomings and failures. Give them the grace that has been given to you.
5. Share. Share how you feel (once again…not in anger). Maybe they had no clue. Maybe you are so selfless that they didn’t realize the day mattered to you. There are several good reasons (I mean I’m sure there has to be, but I can’t think of many right now) they could have forgotten about Mother’s Day. There is very little chance that they will do something different next year unless they are made aware of how you feel in a way they can receive it.
They failed. We all fail at times. It’s part of the human condition. Acknowledge the hurt, forgive the failure, discuss a plan for change, and hope for the best next year.