Childfree Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Mother's Day

As Mother’s Day rolls around each year, I find myself of mixed minds. Don’t get me wrong; even more since she passed in late 2017, I love my mother and would celebrate her and how she raised my brother and me any day of the week. But as a childfree person, I have problems with Mother’s Day as a national holiday. Why? Here are two reasons:

Mother’s Day 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 will reproduce. Simply put, it perpetuates a child-centric society.

Mother’s Day does not acknowledge all who mother

Mothers are obviously key to the raising of children. But they are not the only people 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 exhibit mothering qualities and have had special impact on us. Mothers aren’t the only ones who love, have patience, listen to, nurture, guide, care for, and set a good example 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 children and who have played an important role in their lives.

Today I celebrate my deceased 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 on the holiday. It shouldn’t just be celebrating the person who gave birth to you. It should celebrate all of those women who helped you become all you can be~

Childfree–how do you experience Mother’s Day?

Originally posted May 2010 –  I like to re post this, as it continues to reflect my sentiments!

16 thoughts on “Childfree Thoughts on Mother’s Day

  1. 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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:

      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!

  3. 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. 🙂

    1. 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

  4. 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.

    1. 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

  5. I’m acutally 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…

  6. Just yesterday my husband and I were discussing his experience with Father’s Day versus mine with Mother’s day (we are a childfree couple in our late forties). The messaging seems to be very different for men versus women. He has never been wished “Happy Father’s Day” by a complete stranger nor is he handed a flower (both of which happened to me on Mother’s Day). While I do believe celebrating Mother’s Day provides meaningful (and well-deserved) recognition to those who take on this role, I am of “mixed mind too” when I think of the stereotypes it seems to perpetuate. Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Laura (PS: I wrote about CF and Mother’s Day for my blog post this week too – smile)

  7. Love this piece. I like to see a childfree woman acknowledge the problem with mother’s day as glorifying motherhood as the only ticket ot fulfillment for a woman’s life. I also love your idea of renaming it “mothering day”. I see a little too many childfree people say that “would-be breeders” (ie. the childless not by choice) are exaggerating their issues with mother’s day, but now I see you citing some of these same issues.

  8. My husband + I have been childfree since the mid 1970s. Now in our late 60s, I am well-aware of the discrimination towards the childfree woman/man + have certainly seen much in my years; i.e. the workplace. The childfree issue has become one for the ACLU, whose purpose is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Thoughts pertaining to this article (as it is Mother’s Day tomorrow, 2018)-Leave the historical day alone and create another day to honor those who are making our Earth planet better, such as with the environment, by remaining childfree. Again, thank you for the post and the thought to ponder!

  9. I’m CF and have not problem with Mothers Day. It just one of many Hallmark commercialized days that I don’t celebrate.

    I do have a problem with the assumption that all mothers are good mothers that deserve recognition or payback. It was their choice. The child could not consent to the relationship. A child owes their parent nothing for giving birth.

    It’s only if a strong bond developed that the Happy Family ideal kicks in.

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