I’ve just made a punctuation discovery that I’d never realized before. The apostrophe in Mother’s Day makes it one mother’s day, not a day for all mothers — although, of course, it’s designed to be.

This seemingly slight difference punctuates a truth: not all mothers feel grateful for this enforced holiday. Yes, there’s many a fortunate woman with Hallmark gratification that her son or daughter remembered her, with a bouquet or trinket or candy or whatever. Even a phone call might be special in some families!

On the other hand there some (many?) women who are disdainful of the holiday or feel guilty because they find the day difficult. Perhaps offspring are far away, emotionally as well as geographically. So Mother’s Day becomes something to get through, rather than a celebration. (On the other side, children can have conflicts about compulsory homage – but that’s for another blog.)

We should also remember that there are too many women who have lost their  own mother or a child, and who would rather tear the month of May off the calendar than be reminded by this day – as if grief needs any reminding.

But between the Hallmark smiles and bitter sadness there’s a whole spectrum of mixed feelings. Because the truth is that very few of the famed relationships between Mother and Daughter- or Son – are 100% black or white . There are numerous shades of conflicted feelings on both sides. I vividly recall a woman telling me about a fight with her adolescent daughter, who then sent her a note to say, I hate you. Love, Becky.

So I was gratified when one of my memoir writing students wrote her own candid view of the day. Her name is Toby Kass, and she’s a mother and grandmother. She came into my class a little over a year ago, confessing that she’d “never written anything but grocery lists.” She then stunned the class by writing with exceptional candor and talent. Here’s an excerpt from her frank comments about Mother’s Day.

This Mother’s Day has a new meaning – a different feeling. I remember becoming a mother as being the most significant event of my life. . . .But, as with all things, Mother’s Day has changed. My children are now 50 years old or close to it. Although I still hold the title of “Mother,” it is from a distance. Everyone is involved in their own life and family. It’s as if I’ve been retired from a job I loved. My children and grandchildren always make sure I know I’m thought about and loved – but the involvement is peripheral.   This is the scheme of life – all things come and go.  My plight is not unique and my plate is certainly not empty. In my head, I know this is natural. But sometimes my head and heart are not in sync.

To all of us struggling for that “sync,” and for acceptance of the way things must change, I wish a peaceful Sunday. Go to a movie, treat yourself to a massage, splurge on chocolates,  confide your feelings ¬ whatever they are ¬ to your journal. And remember: Monday’s around the corner.

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Books: ROLE PLAY  and TEN WOMEN OF VALOR – Available at and Also Amazon Kindle.




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