Happy Mother’s Day—full stop | WORLD
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Happy Mother’s Day—full stop

Let’s not hesitate as we rejoice over motherhood

Drazen Zigic/Getty Images

Happy Mother’s Day—full stop
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This weekend will mark the one day a year “officially” set aside to honor moms. Sure, maybe “Mother’s Day” originated as a Hallmark PR strategy or whatever, but I don’t think that really matters. Moms deserve to be celebrated! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we get to our Mother’s Day greetings, you know what many will say.

Everyone, now please stop and think about all the people for whom today will be painful. Some women long to be mothers. Some people have lost their mothers this year. Some have complicated relationships with their mothers, or their children, or no relationship at all. Yes, yes, Happy Mother’s Day and etc. But … couldn’t all you moms out there (and the people who love them) just agree not to be too happy about it?

When I became a mom roughly eight years ago, after a couple years of struggling and yearning for it, this “Happy Mother’s Day, BUT” phenomenon really started to grate on me.

It really is a strange impulse. We don’t do it for virtually any other holiday. Imagine, for example, spending the better part of your birthday each year apologizing repeatedly to all those whose birthday is not today! and everyone who has any bad memories associated with their birthday and/or anyone who has maybe recently lost a loved one and therefore for whom “birthdays” carry a particular sting. It feels like a bit you’d read in The Babylon Bee.

To be fair, motherhood and our relationship with our moms is something uniquely profound, so I understand the added weight to Mother’s Day. Nevertheless, this whole overindulgent apologizing for Mother’s Day—I can almost guarantee you’ll see it in ads, in posts on social media, you might even hear it from the pulpit—strikes me as another silly symptom of the Critical Theory virus.

As a worldview, Critical Theory relies on a scarcity mindset. Accordingly, there is a finite amount of “goodness,” whether in the form of power, money, comfort, accolades, etc., to go around, and the “bad guys” are the ones who have it and the “good guys” never do. In the Critical Theory economy, any cause for personal celebration is suspect. You’re a mom? Well, ever thought about all the people who aren’t?

Like every other event in the Victim Olympics, this one suffers from logical breakdown pretty quickly. Picture a woman who spends years earnestly desiring children, struggling to conceive, and who finds Mother’s Day particularly painful—until the year it finally happens; she has a baby of her own, and here it’s Mother’s Day! Is she allowed to celebrate and be celebrated, or does she need to apologize first, too?

Exactly one holiday “about you” is not a deliberate slap in the face to everyone who is not you.

Unfortunately, this idolization of empathy (and the competition to prove Most Empathetic) has seeped into Christian culture as well, and its champions have a favorite verse: “weep with those who weep,” (Romans 12:15). This is compassion, we’re told. This is awareness, this is the gold standard of Christian neighborliness! Of course, it’s also only half of the verse. The first half is much less trendy: “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Yikes, Paul.)

Probably those who will caveat their Happy Mother’s Days this year, as every year, have good intentions. Desiring children is good—and so is desiring good relationships with our mothers. The pain, uncertainty, and loss swirling all around infertility and all the other challenges of being a mother can be devastatingly painful. But begrudging the joy of those who do have children, or who do have good relationships with their mothers — on this one day a year! — is not good.

A couple years ago, tennis great Serena Williams wrote an essay for Vogue about her decision to take a break from tennis while she had her second child. “I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she wrote, “If I were a guy I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. … Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”

Missing from this perspective is that “a guy” will never have the opportunity to do what Williams is doing. She was about to carry, give birth to, and mother a precious child. What a pity to indulge in such wasteful bitterness when she could have seen her gift for what it was. Maybe not everyone can play tennis like Serena William, but many, many, many people can play tennis. No one else can be her children’s mom—not even Tom Brady. I am unequivocally certain that he got the short end of that bargain.

This Mother’s Day, celebrate extravagantly. Be joyful without guilt or restraint. Exactly one holiday “about you” is not a deliberate slap in the face to everyone who is not you. Forget all that. Rejoice with those who rejoice. There’s no world without moms; there’s no you without your mom; and there’s no other woman who can mother your children. Eat the brunch, enjoy the flowers, cherish the messy crayon drawings and the sappy cards. Happy Mother’s Day, full stop.

Maria Baer

Maria Baer is a freelance reporter who lives in Columbus, Ohio. She contributes regularly to Christianity Today and other outlets and co-hosts the Breakpoint podcast with The Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

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