The trouble with Mother’s Day

So today is Mother’s Day when we can celebrate and enjoy all that our mothers have done for us … a time to say thank you, and spend time with those special people.  But I think it is easy to forget that actually, Mother’s Day can be a particularly difficult day for many people who may find the much publicised demonstrations of other people’s apparently blissful existence just one more reminder that their own lives are less than perfect.  We are all guilty to a greater or lesser degree.  We tend to be pretty good at posting photos on Facebook or Instagram of the beautiful flowers we received or the happy family gathering we’ve just attended (yes, I just did that), but are somewhat less inclined to press the “post” button to publicise details of the son who seems to have forgotten that it’s mother’s Day (and yes, I seem to have one of those too!)  Facebook and Instagram can present an incredibly one sided, sanitised, but somewhat distorted view of our lives where all the great moments are shared freely, while many of the challenges and disappointments are kept private.  Because there are indeed far more appropriate ways in which such emotions can be shared and resolved, and I am not in any way suggesting that we should start moaning on social media.  However, I do think there are many reasons why Mother’s Day can actually be a very difficult time for some people.  Women who would desperately love to be a mother, but who have not been able to conceive, or mothers who have lost a child.  Children whose mother is no longer alive.  What do you do on Mother’s Day if you don’t have kids ….. or they have forgotten and not prioritised the day …. and your own mother is not around?   Looking at social media on such occasions is not going to help to ease the pain of missing a loved one.

Growing up, I don’t remember Mother’s day being a particularly big deal – I think the rampant commercialism has probably had a part to play in exploiting the occasion.  I am now the same age as my mother was when she died of cancer, and even though that was 28 years ago, it remains an incredibly painful reminder that she has not been a part of more than half my life.  But what is a real shame is that try as I might, I cannot seem to find a photo of me and her together.  There are a few of me with shocking teenage haircuts with the rest of the family and one at my graduation, but none of the shots I would really love to have – of me and her together, doing things, chatting, laughing.

 Embarrassing family photo from 1975 in the Lake District

And herein lies the other problem with social media.  Great though it is for instantaneous gratification and sharing of the moment, the reality is that in ten years time,  it may be impossible to lay your hands on that i phone shot you took on the spur of the moment.  Photos, like many other things these days, appear to have become a disposable commodity.  We take, we post, we move on.  Who knows whether jpegs will be a recognised photo format in ten years time, so even if you can locate that old computer or tablet, you may not be able to do anything with those images.

So what am I saying?  Lots of things I guess.  Appreciate your Mum, because one day she won’t be here, and then you’d wish you’d done more of the simple stuff.  Remember the people who are finding today particularly hard. And get good, professional family photos taken and presented beautifully.  Framed on the wall to enjoy or printed in a quality book, but not just saved on a CD or USB stick that you might lose or be unable to access in the future.

Me and my daughter 2015.  Photo credit to Alexa Bailey Alexa’s website


jkaye - -

Thanks Susan, for taking the time to comment. It is easy to think we are the only ones in a certain situation and somehow knowing that this is not the case can make a bit of difference.

Susan - -

What an excellent post! I have a child who doesn’t contact me, grandchildren who don’t either, I lost a husband and a mother (lol different times), and yes, we even ‘lost’ a son.

Happy occasions can bring sadness – but on the other hand, if we reach out to those we know find these times difficult, we are blessed by sharing.

And that is a great point about not saving the photos on a CD or USB. I used to keep all mine on an external drive. Unexpectedly, it failed, and I lost never to be recovered photos of another son before he went overseas to live.

You show great consideration in your writing. Thank you, you have touched through my loneliness. Susan

This is so true. One of my plans for the Easter break is to select a few more photos for our living space and I’m really excited to have a look and select a couple. It is far too easy to file stuff away and move on to the next thing.

What an excellent reminder about what is really important, Jenny, and expressed from a compassionate viewpoint.

Ute Wieczorek-King - -

You’ve hit the nail on the head here Jenny! I too struggle with the fake positivity in social media and its impermanence and have written about it (even ranted I guess) in blog posts and facebook updates especially around Christmas time. And what I would give to have a proper photo with my mum too… Thank you for a thought provoking post!

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