Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday May 13th, 2019.

A few days ago, I read an opinion piece about Mother’s Day. The author, a teacher by profession, argued that less emphasis on the joy of Mother’s Day in the school environment would spare some kids of the heartbreak they experience as they do not have an all around loving and warm mother figure, whether due to social circumstances, medical or any other. The many reminders almost seem cruel, the author pointed out. I nodded in agreement as I read the piece.

The readers’ comments mostly denounced the ‘snowflake’ attitude, counterarguing that we cannot be so overly inclusive and accommodate everyone whenever a special day is up. Some people’s feelings are going to be hurt but hey, life’s tough so they better get used to it.

Heartless opinions, when the said (and sad) feelings belong to children who do not ask to be born but they happen in this world because their parents make it happen. And unfortunately, being born does not come with guarantees of being loved and cared for. Also, while some mothers choose to leave their babies behind, there are many who cannot be the mothers they want to be and that’s where things get complicated.

How could we possibly tell any children whose mothers are either not present, or not able to fulfill that role, to toughen up? How could we justify the reality of their situation, and expect them to be chugging happily alongside their classmates, writing Mother’s Day cards and making cute little gifts because that’s how it’s done? Come Mother’s Day, some people hurt and that’s that; children and grownups too. And it’s not a cry-baby situation. It’s a reality that many live with and it’s not weakness to acknowledge it.

That anyone would be bothered is what is troubling.

I lost my mother a month and a half before my youngest was to be born. She was 59. Mother’s Day hurt that year in a way that cannot be put into words. Life was tough all right. I was angry and heartbroken and did not want to see another ad or gift suggestion for Mother’s Day.

Still, my mother had been a beautiful human who loved me unconditionally and I am grateful to have felt it. She was caring and warm. She deserved all the love I could give her and more. How lucky that I know that; lucky to have known what it’s like to love her and be loved in that way that only a mother could.

I had it all, and I had it good. I still do, though in a different way. I am a mother, daughter-in-law and chosen daughter to a couple of mother figures in my life. I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am, even when life gets tough. Mother’s Day comes with flowers, hugs, and smiles, but with missing my Mom a lot. That makes it impossible to overlook that not everyone is celebrating. Also, I recognize that the marketing storm that envelops every special day makes it a lot harder for those who suffer already.

Over the years I’ve learned of many sad situations. Children who lost their mothers and children whose mothers cannot parent the way they want to because of health issues, including mental health and/or substance abuse issues; children who were abandoned, been shuffled between foster homes and do not know what it’s like to have a hug when you badly need one.  

We need reminders that it is easy to get swept off our feet by the rivers of flowers and gifts for the mothers that are present, loved and loving, while forgetting that not everybody has it that way. If we expect adults to be all grown-up about it, we should never say the same about children. Some go through hardship that is impossible to imagine and come Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day) they get reminded of it all. That we would take note of this and proceed with thoughtfulness should not be a matter of discord.

Every one of us carries a story within, some more painful than we could imagine. It’s the mark of a healthy community to take care if its most vulnerable, showing them that there is life after pain, there is hope for better, and there are people who care and are willing to make it happen. We should each strive to be those people, when possible, to support them, or at least care enough to talk about it and change things for the better.

On that note, kudos to all parents those whose hearts walk alongside adoptive and foster children, renewing their hope and showing that they are worth it.