Mother's Day: a different perspective

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, we at Home for Good want to share the stories and amplify the voices of a number of different women as they mark this time of year. We asked them a number of questions, and it’s our privilege to share their reflections with you.

“How lovely that you’ll get to celebrate Mother’s Day properly this year, now you’re in this family. You’re so lucky to be part of such a lovely family now and they’re so lucky to have you!”

I knew this person and I knew her heart. I got that she didn’t – couldn’t – fully understand the story that had preceded Dara’s* arrival into our family. I knew that she didn’t intend the hurt that she caused with her words. But Dara didn’t know what I knew.

For Dara, this was a painful day. She didn’t feel lucky at all.

By describing her as now part of our “lovely family” (however inaccurate her rose-tinted her view of our family was!), this individual inadvertently assumed things of Dara’s birth family she didn’t know to be true, and that were unfair. Her words suggested that the memories and connections Dara had with her birth family could or should be wiped away, because “everything was all right now.”

The reality was radically different. In the weeks before, everything familiar in Dara’s world had changed and she had found herself in unfamiliar surroundings, with unfamiliar people, feeling multiple conflicting emotions, particularly as Mother’s Day approached.

On our third Mother’s Day together, Dara told me that she hated being with us on that day because it made her feel so angry. She had spent some time with us at this stage and in our family had been able to see some of the things that she had missed growing up, for reasons outside her and her birth family’s control. She felt sad, grieving what she had lost.

She also told me that Mother’s Day brought her some moments of pure joy. She described making things with our two much smaller children; she loved being involved in their crafts and activities. She told me that she knew that I was someone important to her too, but that that made her feel guilty too.

We had a few conversations like this, but most of the time these conflicting emotions were communicated in her behaviour and experimenting with unhealthy coping mechanisms.

"It all felt too much all at once. It all got in my head, and I couldn’t escape it. I tried to stay in bed the whole day."

A few years on from that first unfortunate Mother’s Day encounter at church, Dara has moved on from our home. But every year I get a lovely message from her, wishing me a happy Mother's Day. She will sometimes recall a special conversation, moment or memory we shared. Those messages mean so much to me – but I’m always aware that Mother’s Day is still tricky for her because her story, like thousands of others, is complex.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, we at Home for Good want to share the stories and amplify the voices of a number of different women as they mark this time of year. We asked them a number of questions, and it’s our privilege to share their reflections with you.


Tell us a little about Mother’s Day and how you feel about it.

"I am very grateful for my mom, especially on that day. But for some reason, I don’t like celebrating it. Leading up to it, I often find myself stuck in comparison. I'm more wired to see all the differences between my mom, my aunt and cousin, for example...the characteristics they all have in common, and I don’t – which is a lot. What’s often on my mind, but even more on Mother’s Day, is my biological mother; if she’s thinking about me at all. It doesn't mean that I don't love my mom, but it always makes me wonder what kind of life I would have if I wasn't put up for adoption."
- Shanice*, adopted adult

"Mother’s Day feels different for me this year, now I am a mother myself. I feel full of pride that I get to enjoy this side of the day, although strange. But I also feel excited. I enjoy being able to celebrate others, so each Mother’s Day I like to send a card or flowers or just a lovely message to a wonderful woman in my life."
- Naomi*, care-experienced adult and new birth mum

I’m a foster parent and birth Mum, but I’m also a daughter in a family that’s got complex relationships and situations in it (as well as lots of great stuff to celebrate) and in all of these ways, Mother’s Day can feel like a day with too much pressure. I love celebrating each other and the great women in my life, but so much focus on one day means there are loads of emotions flying about that can feel too much to hold all at once. I try and avoid social media in the week before and definitely on the day itself – it’s too easy to compare the tough bits of my life with what some else has posted on their best day and nobody wins that game.
- Bec*, foster carer and birth mum


Who are the women you celebrate on Mother’s Day who have played a significant role in your life?

"I've had the honour of having a lot of those 'mother-figures' in my life through the past five or six years. For me, people can have a big impact through details, like remembering what music I listen to, or what food I like. There was woman who came to our church. The way she has been there for me, encouraged me, prayed with me… When we would be having a one-to-one conversation or when she would notice I wasn't feeling great, I would literally turn around and put a blanket or scarf – whatever I had at that moment – over my head so that I didn't have to look her in the eyes. But she didn't give up. I came to a point of trusting her completely with things I never thought I would ever say out loud, all because she built that trust with me. I think I gave her a thousand reasons through the years as the why she should give up on me, but she never did."
- Shanice

"There have been youth leaders I met at summer camps as a teen and as an adult who I have served with – each showing me, just by being them, how they did life with God as well as again showing genuine care, interest and support for me. Several of them praying for me or investing a bit more time with me in my life where I have had particular struggles. One of them occasionally posted me a letter while she was at university with encouraging words and Bible verses. That gesture, so small but very significant for my young very vulnerable self."

"As an older adopted child, I did not have good role models or people there for me growing up. I had a lot of wounds that I took into adulthood. But having all these amazing women around me have really led me to feel safe, secure and to really understand who God has made me to be as an adult."
- Naomi

What can churches do to support those with a similar experience to yours?

"I find that without realising, a lot of people or churches focus a lot around these days or events on family, particularly young families, in the words and phrases they use. This can exclude a lot of people who may not fit that nuclear family mould, maybe [people who are] single, or whose family have grown up and moved away or passed on. If you grew up in care, you might not have a family. Without realising, we can alienate the people that need the Church to be their family most."
- Naomi

"Please remember people like me and families like mine, and talk about real life. I think church should be the place where people aren’t worried about feeling like they don’t fit in. I wish more people would be more real, because more people would feel like they belong. I love it when I hear people at the front mention different kinds of families, like that are different to just mum, dad and kids."
- Sarah*, care-experienced adult and single foster carer



To all the amazing women out there who are mothers by birth or by adoption; to those who parent as foster carers, kinship carers or supported lodgings hosts; to those who influence as youth workers, aunties, babysitters and more: we thank you.

To all those for whom Mother’s Day is full of many emotions, some of them conflicting: we see you and we stand with you.

To all those who find stories like theirs are missing from the Mother’s Day cards, gifts, pictures and posts: we hear you and we celebrate you.

*names have been changed for anonymity

Author:
Home for Good


Date published:
March 2022


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