This possibly won’t be the most coherent post but I’ve got a few thoughts which need to vacate my head so I can sleep. And I’m too lazy to find my glasses so there will probably be some typos!!
I’m not a fan of massive proclamation posts for Mother’s Day, I just find them a bit unnecessary. Plus my mum and I aren’t friends on Facebook (if I want her to know about my life, I’ll speak to her!) so she wouldn’t see it anyway. Each to their own, but some are too OTT and I get the feeling they’re more for showmanship than anything else. So I was all geared up to do a bit of eye rolling at the super soppy posts.
Except this year, there were more posts about people saying how they were thinking of other people who found Mother’s Day hard/ how hard they were finding Mother’s Day. Again, not my thing, but nice sentiment I guess. But I found it sad that some mums/children felt the need to include this statement in their status about their Mother’s Day. Some were almost apologetic about the fact that they had kids/a mum to celebrate with. Why though?
Maybe it’s my age. There are quite a few friends in my age bracket whose mums have died. There are also quite a few friends who are mums themselves or people who want to be mums but haven’t got pregnant (yet). While I empathise with those people, I feel bad for other people who felt they couldn’t celebrate in their happy day for fear of upsetting someone else. Why shouldn’t you post something nice your kids do on Facebook?
It’s great lots of people are thinking of others and trying to be sensitive. I couldn’t work out why it didn’t sit well with me, that I was seeing more posts commiserating/offering sympathy to others than celebrating mums. It wasn’t so much the actual words- on the surface it seemed nice, and from 90% of people, I reckon it was probably intended to be nice to those who find it a hard day. But I also don’t like the idea of people who are happy being made to feel like they shouldn’t be happy. It’s one day about a specific group of people, mums, and sometimes you have to just let others revel in their happiness for the day. Like always being a bridesmaid at weddings. You’re a horrible person if you turn that day into about you being single! The percentage of people who find Mother’s Day upsetting is less than the amount of people who want to celebrate it (on my feed), but once one person starts offering commiserations, everyone tends to follow suit.
Then I thought about it in a different way. I spend most of my life looking at people doing things I can’t do anymore on Facebook. Seeing people have exciting aspirations and making plans. If I tell you the first 5 things on my Facebook feed right now, they’re:
– travel plans
– baby photos
– my husband’s forthcoming choir concert
– pregnancy announcement
– losing weight achievement
If I wanted to, I could begrudge every single one of those because all are out of my reach because of my illness. Do people post with the caveat of ‘I’m excited to be pregnant but I’m so sorry to tell everyone who might find this news upsetting because they can’t get pregnant?’ Or ‘I’m sorry to say that I’ve got some exciting travel plans because I know some of you can’t travel’. No. Because that would be stupid. And if I pointed this out to anyone, the response would be ‘yeah but it’s not their fault you’re disabled’. And it’s not the poster’s fault. The responsibility would be on me- if I don’t like what I see on Facebook, I shouldn’t look at it. It’s my problem. If someone came round my house and only talked about things like that and showed no interest in me, then that would be different. But online, you have to take a bit of ownership over what you choose to look at. You can be happy about someone else’s joy but still feel sad about your own circumstances- you can’t begrudge people happiness.
So why doesn’t that work with people on Mother’s Day? It’s totally fine to feel sad for whatever reason, but why do other people need to show awareness of this sadness in their Facebook updates? There were some lovely memes going around about support, don’t get me wrong, I just feel like there was almost too much sensitivity shown today, when it could have been just about celebrating mums.
I’m saying this as a childless woman, whose friends have (mostly) had kids. I feel for people who found today hard, and I’m not saying those feelings are invalid and shouldn’t be heard. I think the issue for me is with the collective voice social media provides. There was one particular meme that got shared *a lot*. Why did everyone feel the need to share it? To show that they were thinking of other people? Because they felt guilty? Like I said, it was probably 90% shared with good intentions. But I think it’s sad if people feel like they need to moderate their happiness for fear of upsetting others, on a day which should be just about mums.