It is always the Saturday before Mother's Day - this year, Sunday, May 14th.
And, according to a note I read, it is one of the most controversial days on the calendar of secular observances.
Yes, controversial. Are you really surprised?
The official line is that, "This holiday was created by birth mothers in Seattle, USA, in 1990... to reflect the choices and to cope with feelings like remorse and grief. However, it is also a day to educate and honor.
Here’s the way the controversy is explained,
“But many mothers who gave up their children have feelings of remorse, and often guilt. Many don't want a special day. And, of those mothers who want to be remembered, they don't necessarily want a special day, aside from Mother's Day. They feel they should remember, and be remembered, on Mother's Day. "Are we really surprised that Birth Mothers bear the burden of shame and blame?
"From the child's perspective, adopted children understandably have a high level of anxiety over this topic. A fair number of them don't want a relationship with their birth mother, adding more controversy to this day."
Women can’t ever catch a break. If she has an abortion, she’s shamed and reviled as a “murderer”.
If she places her child for adoption, the adoptive mother and the child she birthed often shun her.
There is an assumption that if a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy or place her child to be adopted that she is, somehow, deficient as a human being and derelict as a woman.
How could a human being “kill an innocent child”? How could a woman “give up her own flesh and blood”?
Women who choose not to have children are also considered suspect as decent citizens of the human race. Isn’t that what women’s bodies are made for? Isn’t that against God’s will?
On the other hand, women who are unable to conceive or bear children are to be pitied. Women who adopt other women’s children, however, are considered heroes. Angels. Super women. Demi-gods. .
And, the Birth Father? What of him?
It is my observation that this pattern of guilt and shame for women and reproductive health, choice, rights and justice is not only common, it is inextricably tangled into unexamined and unexpressed grief.
The source of grief is sometimes around remorse about the decision. Other times, it’s around not having felt any other real option, or having felt pressured into the decision.
But mostly, it’s the grief of never really having been allowed to grieve.
I want to tell you a story about a Hospice patient I had a while back who has since died. She was 94, almost 95 years old. During one visit, she asked if I heard confessions. I assured her that I did but asked if she wanted to talk about it to be sure she had actually committed a “sin” that needed to be confessed.
"One day," she continued, "my aunt walked into my room and found me crying. I ended up telling her and she immediately arranged for me to have an abortion. Which was, of course, illegal.”
Her words tumbled out of her mouth in a rush; almost as if she thought that, if she slowed down, she might stop.
“It wasn’t bad enough that the decision about when and with whom to have sex was taken from me. I also lost the ability to make the decision about whether or not to get pregnant, and, when pregnant to make the decision about whether or not to continue with the pregnancy, place the child for adoption or have an abortion. The decision was not about me or my life, but protecting my uncle and the family from shame. ”
“No one knows about this story,” she continued, “not my mother or my sisters, not my husband or my children. Just my aunt – who took the secret to her grave – and now, you.”
Then, she took a deep breath and blotted the tears that were welling up in her eyes and said, “What I want to know is this:
I looked at this woman who had been carrying around this guilt and shame and grief for eighty years, and with all the love and compassion I had in my heart and said,
Saturday is Birth Mother’s Day. Sunday is Mother’s Day. Whether you or someone you know has given birth or chosen not to have children;
or had an abortion or had a child placed in foster care or placed a child for adoption;
or adopted a child or you are a foster mom;
if your mother is alive and well or ill and infirm or dead and buried; and
you enjoy a good relationship or your relationship is strained or complicated or alienated
however you observe the day . . .
…. please, be kind. Please exercise compassion.
Allow yourself to grieve.
Create a space where your grief and the grief of others can be honored and respected and expressed.
It’s one way to begin to unhook yourself - and help others disengage - from the grip of shame and blame, remorse and regret which complicate and compound grief.
I don't believe there is any hate in heaven.
Neither is there any shame or guilt or remorse.
May it be on earth as it is in heaven.