Tuesday, May 26, 2009


When I was a teenager, I loved Valentine's Day. I thought the legend behind it was sweet, and I always looked forward to celebrating the "day of love".

For some reason, I always had a boyfriend or an admirer at that time of year. I didn't plan it that way, it just always happened. As Valentine's Day would roll around, I felt no dread, only excitement about the potential surprises that awaited me from whatever love interest I had at that time. I was also anxious to surprise him with something fun.

I'm sure I thought about those who had no romantic prospects. I consider myself an empathetic person, for the most part. I must have experienced a fleeting consideration for those who found that day to be depressing and lonely. Seemingly, however, I must have moved on quite quickly to the excitement of my day.

I have no doubt that, should motherhood have come easily, I would have had the same attitude toward Mother's Day. Consumed in the pleasures that came with celebrating and being celebrated, I imagine any thoughts about those left out would have been brief. I know I would have felt sad for those who had no mother to celebrate, but I hesitate to think I would have remembered those who remained childless.

Among the millions of people living in this country, there were surely millions who felt pain this Mother's Day. Some were people who's mother passed away. Others were people who never knew their mother or are estranged from their mother. Also, there were mothers hurting because they have lost their children and those mothers whose husbands / children did not make Mother's Day special for them, leaving them disappointed. And, of course, there are the women who could not become mothers.

When Father's Day rolls around, these same painful feelings will be felt by a whole new set of people.

This Mother's Day, I reflected on holidays in general and found myself dividing them into two categories: event oriented and people oriented. Event oriented holidays would include those holidays that celebrate an event: Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.

The second set celebrates people. There are holidays that celebrate groups of people in a community sense, such as Veteran's Day. Then there are the holidays that celebrate individual people in a relationship sense: Mother's Day, Father's Day, even Valentine's Day.

Now I'll throw something out there... Do we really need these 'relationship' holidays? I'm not saying we don't. It was just an interesting thought to explore.

We have Valentine's Day to celebrate the love between two people. Couldn't that be done on an anniversary? And in a much classier, personalized, and intimate way? No more paying $200 for a sad vase of flowers and trying to make reservations in an over-crowded, over-priced restaurant. You celebrate your love on a day that is special to YOU. Or you could celebrate these people just because you love them. I have to say that I don't remember many things Ryan did for me on various Valentine's Days, but I'll never forget the random day he sent me flowers just because.

Likewise, Mother's Day and Father's Day are there to show our parents how much we love and appreciate them. Couldn't this also be done on a day that special to your relationship? Their birthday? YOUR birthday? What about sending a note to mom, or taking Dad out to dinner just because you love them. Seems this would mean so much more. No longer is your kind gesture perceived as fulfilling a societal obligation, but it is now a token of selfless giving. I would love to wake up and find my children greeting me with soggy cereal and burnt toast on a random Saturday morning, not because it was Mother's Day and it was expected.

I know mothers work hard and are often times unappreciated. I fully believe that having a day to honor them is wonderful. I enjoyed visiting with my Mom this year on Mother's Day. I look forward to sharing Mother's Day with my children someday.

But even when that day comes, I know that Mother's Day in my eyes will always be different than it would have been, had motherhood come easy. I will never be able to enjoy it as carefree as I enjoyed those Valentine's Days long ago. A little bit of the innocence and blissful naivete has been lost. On that day, my thoughts will always wonder toward that 'other' group of women: the ones gritting their teeth, swallowing their tears, and praying for the day to be over.


Savannah said...

I couldn't agree more! We actually aren't big on Valentines Day because 5 days before that is our anniversary and we put all our efforts into that instead.
I hate the pressure of find the perfect present for my mom, MIL and grandparents each year. I feel like it's a competition to see which gets the best gift.
I agree, the world needs to honor their parents because they love them, not because of mandated holiday. Wow, I sound cold towards Mothers Day...
I really enjoyed this post; you are such a great writer and can put thoughts and feelings into words so much better than I can. Thank you for being willing to share them.

Hillary said...

I very much agree!! I think these 'relationship holidays' often feel....fake. We definitely put way more thought and effort into birthdays and anniversaries. Great post!

Anonymous said...

What a thoughtful post. Of course, your posts are always thoughtful, as well as thought-provoking. I agree with you regarding the third group of holidays, they feel forced and awkward. It doesn't seem right to honor a person just because your calendar says you should. And although I am a mother, I don't feel comfortable that others feel obligated to coordinate a fuss over me. The love between two people is shown in a million little ways over the course of a lifetime and to try to shove it into a special "day" I think brings little satisfaction and more frustration.
Heather Miller

Jill said...

I also have a problem with Valentine's day and Mother's day. This past Mother's day I did something different. I attended a different ward. I was not aware of the pain in that ward because I didn't know the people in it very well. I'm certain there is pain in every ward, but not knowing, well....like they say, ignorance is bliss. I've often thought we would be better off if we were to just delete the relationship holidays, as you call them. Honoring our mothers on a day we choose would make more sense and would have so much more meaning. And receiving flowers from our husbands when we don't expect it, would be quite heavenly, wouldn't it?

Clare said...

Very thoughtful post. My hubbie and I have never celebrated Valentines Day and I think it's a good thing. We have 2 anniversaries to celebrate as it is - the day we met and the day we got married, these days are more personal to us and more special, so we save our cash for then to have a romantic meal or break somewhere. Here's to no more enforced celebration days of relationships!

Steph and Bran said...

Hey, I am so glad I stumbled across your blog. I have been keeping up on it for quite a while now. I love this post. I totally agree with what you said about how Mother's Day will never be the same. Even if we do end up as mothers one day, we will always be sad for those going through infertility, since we were once there. It's kind of crappy actually, but that's the way it is. I will never be able to enjoy motherhood like I would have without going through infertility. I am LDS also and live in Provo. We have been ttc for 2 years, just had our first failed IVF cycle and are absolutely heart broken about it. Thanks for your wonderful blog.

Coming2Terms said...

A very insightful post. Your categorization of holidays as event-centric vs. people-centric is the perfect way to help explain to those who miss the subtlety and the difficulty that those days can inflict.

p.s. thanks for ordering the book. I'm eager to hear your assessment after you've had a chance to read it. Wishing you all the best in the meantime.

In Due Time said...

Love this post. Holidays are hard for infertiles.