The tensions of Mother’s Day during a pandemic

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I am feeling a lot of tension about it.

As a mother with 2 young kids, including one born in the past year, Mother’s Day should be a day of celebration. Of joy. Of gratitude. Of honor.

In my journey to becoming a mother, as well as the process of dealing with infertility, I’ve marveled at what the the process of birthing children has actually birthed within me.* I have endured not just the birth of my two daughters, but the birth of new ways of living, relating, and existing in this world. I have experienced motherhood changing me for the better, not only transforming my life but also the lives of those around me. And I have experienced a deeper sense of appreciation and awe for my own mother and all that she had to navigate as an immigrant woman, raising 3 daughters, in a world entirely different than the one she was raised in.

Me and my 엄마

So on this Mother’s Day, I am celebrating the new life that motherhood has birthed in me:

  • A greater awareness of and appreciation for my own body, especially the ways it has created, grown, and nourished human life

All of these new signs of life — within me, within my family- are to be acknowledged. They are gifts that have made me better.

To be a mother is to be acquainted with birth.

July 12, 2017- The birth of my first daughter

And also…..

On this Mother’s Day in particular, I am feeling more visceral levels of grief, recognizing ways that a day that honors the joys of motherhood must also honor the pain that comes from it.

Some of this, I think, comes just from all of the natural transitions that our bodies and our spirits go through simply in the process of motherhood. Mothers grieve the loss of our bodies, what they may have been before giving birth. We grieve the transitions of our identities, and all that changes about how we think of ourselves through becoming mothers. At every stage of our child’s development, we grieve the loss of a certain “stage” or experience of our child. We grieve the ways that we are not in control, and that our children may not always do or be what we want them to. We grieve the ways that our world will not always be kind to our children or treat them the way they deserve to be treated.

To be a mother is to be acquainted with grief.

“Joy Cometh in the Morning”- Shin Happens Art

This year in particular, the “usual” griefs of motherhood are compounded by the realities of living in a pandemic and feeling utterly out of control, regularly triggered, and closer to our own human vulnerability. This year, on Mother’s Day 2020, we are invited to celebrate not just idealized conceptions of motherhood, but the very real, feet-in-the-mud, tears-on-our-face, shit-on-our-hands realities of it.

So this Mother’s Day, I am also grieving alongside:

  • Black mothers in our communities who are grieving the lynchings of their children, and all the emotions that come from the reality that they cannot ever keep their children completely “safe” in this country

There are so many other categories of grief I could name. These are just a few.

With every category, I can picture a friend’s face, say a friend’s name. They are very real people, with real stories, with real pain. But they are more than just that pain.

So this Mother’s Day, in the middle of a pandemic, as we face an influx of ads urging us to buy our mothers flowers, or send them digital photo frames, or to use video conferencing products to “see” our mothers, let us acknowledge the very real costs and tensions that come from Mother’s Day 2020.

It’s okay to celebrate. It’s okay to feast. It’s okay to indulge and be grateful.

But it’s also okay to mourn. To feel uncomfortable celebrating. To feel tension. It’s okay to not be okay.

This Sunday, let us welcome the wide range of emotions, experiences, and tensions that this Mother’s Day will bring. And as mothers for generations have done, let us open ourselves to hold that wide range of human experience- with care, with tenderness, with presence, and love.

*While the birthing process for me was a physical birth, I want to also acknowledge the wide range of birthing experiences for mothers, which includes those who foster, adopt, go through surrogacy, have legal guardianship, are godmothers, etc. When I talk about birthing in this piece, I want to honor that diversity of experiences.

Co-Pastor @bethelcommunitysl | Director of Advocacy @fphayward | pastor, activist, writer | married to @eubanksme | co-author of @lentenlament | she/her

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store