There is probably not a holiday more volatile for Mormon women than Mother’s Day. While some love the talks and chocolates and pansies, some haven’t been to church on Mother’s Day for years.
There are many reasons why one would like Mother’s Day to be skipped over at church. First, Mother’s Day is a secular holiday and the devotion of a worship service to a cultural holiday is yet another specter of American culture creeping into the “gospel.” Second, the veneration and idolization of mothers hurts a myriad of people: women who want to be mothers but aren’t, women who have no desire to be a mother, women who struggle in their motherhood or feel trapped in it, women who have lost a child, people whose mothers were abusive or absent, people who live in families without a person in the role of “mother.” The talks end up speaking to a minority group in the congregation while the rest shift uncomfortably in their seats, eyeing the obligatory chocolates, ready to bolt at “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
On the other hand, Mother’s Day is the one day that almost every talk is focused on women, or at least mentions women. It is entirely possible that for 51 Sundays in the year, every scripture will reference a man, every quote will come from a man, every life story and testimony will be about a boy or man coming of age and what he’s learned. But on Mother’s Day, there is a spark of hope that a woman’s name would be listed for every talk in the program, that someone will share scriptures and experiences directed at women, that a breath might be given to Heavenly Mother. We are dogs begging crumbs at the Master’s table.
I have been on both sides of this Mother’s Day war. I have spent my Mother’s Days rolling my eyes and sighing as well as hoping for a drop of gold. Is the motherhood rhetoric so drenched in “shoulds” that there’s almost no way to avoid hurting each other with it? Can we resurrect Mother’s Day from of guilt and shame? Or should we take the crumbs and run with them as far as we can? Should we even mention it at all?