A plea to schools and daycares to be more mindful about Mother’s Day and ditch the colouring-in exercise that assumes everyone has a Hallmark family

(Last year, I ran into Tanya in the street the day before Mother’s Day and we had a little vent about Hallmark holidays. She’d walked into a classroom where the kids were busy colouring for Mother’s Day, and she personally knew that a lot of those students had pretty unHallmark relationships with their moms. Later, a friend shared her sorrow on facebook as her social feeds were blowing up with Father’s Day posts from friends and targeted ads – she lost her dad prematurely, and it feels particularly in her face when the internet is spamming her with happy dad moments. Not to be a buzzkill. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the people in your life, especially if you’re blessed to have them close by, in healthy functioning relationships. Nice, though, to be mindful, that that is not necessarily the norm. No matter what Hallmark would have you believe. And man, if your relationship with your mom leaves something to be desired, all those flowers and chocolate displays can really sting. So, we’re reposting this one, in advance of Mother’s Day, because this year, the same colouring pages have been pulled out, and this is the space we’ve created for saying things we think worth saying. ~ Lisa.)

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I would like to see us stop having students make stuff for mother’s day or father’s day or grandparents’ day or whatever family relationship day we’re currently highlighting.

This is not a war on mother’s day. I am not saying that we shouldn’t celebrate our relationship with our mothers. I’m saying that relationships are complicated and forcing everyone to say how much they appreciate their mothers in a classroom is inappropriate at best.

I enjoy being a mother, most days. I would think that I have a decent relationship with my offspring. I appreciate them and they appreciate me. Most days. I enjoy my mother’s day breakfast or dinner and I often get a tree to plant in the yard (or dictate where it is going to be planted would probably be a more accurate description of how the tree ends up in the ground). This isn’t about the concept of having a day to celebrate your mother, it’s about considering what is going on for others.

As I see it, here are some relationship possibilities for mothers and children (insert father for June):

  1. you have a loving and caring relationship with your mother.
  2. you had a loving and caring relationship with your mother, unfortunately she has died.
  3. you have a neutral relationship with your mother.
  4. you had a neutral relationship with your mother, she has died.
  5. you have a tumultuous relationship with your mother.
  6. your mother has a better relationship with substances than she does with you.
  7. your mother has been absent most of your life.
  8. your mother was/is abusive.
  9. your mother chose to continue a relationship with a person who harmed you, thus choosing their partner over you.

This list only touches on those who have a household where there is/was a mother. Maybe a student has two dads/moms, maybe a student has step-parents, foster parents, caregivers and no real knowledge of their mother/father.

Here we are – in a time when we are meant to be paying attention to relationships in classrooms, where we are meant to be promoting mental health and open communication while recognizing people’s diverse experiences – and we’re creating unsafe environments for students by colouring for mother’s day.  Stop it. Please?

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