Reader comments prove that women without children have a spread of reactions to Mother’s Day. From sitting alone in the dark to not noticing the day is different from any other, we’re all over the place. For American NotMoms who do have negative reactions to Mother’s Day each May, imagine having that experience twice each year instead of just once. Yeah.
Send a hug to your NotMom sisters in the United Kingdom, because Mothering Sunday is March 30, 2014. What we know about other peoples’ holidays is peripherally seen, much like perceptions of Orthodox Christmas celebrations more than a week after the majority of the world’s Christians have opened their presents.
Actually, from February through December, somewhere on the planet there’s an official day that’s all about mothers. That’s more than 50 countries. Most Americans don’t notice, of course. My office calendar shows March 10 as “Labour Day-Victoria, Australia”. Zippo for Mothering Sunday UK on March 30.
I’ve learned that the British holiday started in the 16th century, l-o-n-g before Anna Jarvis, a childless West Virginian, led a campaign resulting in the USA’s first Mother’s Day in 1914. England’s ancient start of Mothering Sunday first focused on people visiting their ‘mother’ church. Now, activities aren’t dissimilar to how U.S. adults spend the day, honoring their mothers with special meals and gifts.
The UK event happens on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is always before it happens in America on the second Sunday in May. The question remains: Do Britain’s childless and childfree women suffer a kind of one-two punch from the back-to-back intercontinental holidays? Thanks to this blog, I had three English friends to ask: Gateway Women‘s Jody Day, writer Paula Coston and life coach Lesley Pyne.
→ Jody Day connects NotMoms around the world through Gateway Women programming. She’s also the author of a new book, Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children. Everything you need to know about how she deals with a double dose of Mother’s Day is in this well-written post on her blog:
“For those of us in the UK, we get two onslaughts of media around the day – both on our own Mothering Sunday and then on the US and global Mother’s Day celebrated in May. A double-dose of smugness, cloying sentimentality, alienation and disenfranchised grief. Hooray – let’s all buy cards for that!”
“I will spend the day with [my mum], but this year, things will be different. I have never spoken to her about my sadness at childlessness and singlehood ever before (and she’s 82!) – but this year, having processed so much, partly through writing my novel, I will be. This will be a huge breakthrough for me, and I hope put our relationship on a true footing of closeness, rather than a pretend one.”
→ Lesley Pyne has also authored a guest post here, offering real-life, you-can-do-it actions to set boundaries with friends and family. She’s a coach and counselor who specializes in building supports for childless women. Lesley approached Mothering Day by posting three basic steps for managing emotions and attitudes that can ruin the whole weekend or more.
Lesley’s clients must surely benefit from knowing Lesley’s own experiences often reflect theirs. Her email, however, touched on a different type of holiday-related grief:
“For me, Mother’s Day’s a double whammy because my Mum died eight years ago and for me, that hurts more than not having children. I find it a pretty sad day, and you just know that ‘happy’ families will be everywhere. I’m not sure what we’ll do this year. We’ll definitely keep away from the places where families congregate such as restaurants, and most likely will go for a walk in the country away from people.”
Definitely sending super-sized hugs her way.
Lesley also noted changes she sees in how Mothering Sunday is marketed in the UK — and the fact that it’s marketed at all:
“I feel it’s getting more ‘American’ (sorry), which means it’s getting bigger. Years ago it was only the card shops where you’d notice it. Now just about every shop/restaurant etc has a reference to it, so it’s hard to avoid,” she wrote.
US NotMoms know about ‘hard to avoid’ and what that feels like. Use your social media connections on Sunday, March 30, 2014 to send some love to your UK sisters. Then, do it again when your day comes around on Sunday, May 11th.