There are work-arounds to not having a mother in your family. Our kids drank formula rather than breast milk. We make adjustments to forms when necessary. And when our twins are overly cranky, we tell them “Save the drama for President Obama!” But I’ll admit, Mother’s Day is a tough one.
What are my kids going to do when their classes are making macaroni and glitter cards and milk carton bird feeders every mid-May? Sit in the corner and do long division because they have no one to give theirs to? I don’t want them to feel left out, and I would never want a school to cancel Mother’s Day for their benefit. It’s a great holiday. I even have a mother myself.
Actually, my problem with Mother’s Day started before the kids were even born. Three years ago, around this time, our surrogate, Tiffany, was pregnant with the blobs who would eventually become Bennett and Sutton. She did everything a pregnant woman is supposed to do – ate well, got regular check-ups, stayed off crack. For her diligence, she was rewarded with non-stop morning sickness, a fetus who kicked the crap out of her uterus, Braxton Hicks contractions and eventually, 24-hour bed rest, all for the sake of someone else’s kids.
For that alone, I’d say she earned a bouquet of flowers once a year, but it doesn’t make her, you know, an m-word.
Then there was Drew’s sister, Susie, who’d gone through the hassle and discomfort of egg donation, who’d injected herself with needles on a daily basis, flown across country about five times – at the risk of losing her job – and forked over her DNA to make a couple of kids who would always call her “Aunt”. What would Mother’s Day represent for her? Just another Sunday? An annual unacknowledged reminder of her sacrifice?
It didn’t seem right. But using Mother’s Day to honor Tiffany and Susie didn’t seem appropriate either, because we were very clear about our family structure and who was in charge. Fear not, Right Wing. I have no desire to redefine motherhood.
After thinking it over for a while, we invented our own holiday, Surrogate and Egg Donor’s Day, which we celebrate on the Saturday before Mother’s Day every year.
The timing is significant, because it keeps our kids from feeling left out of Mother’s Day weekend, and it allows our surrogate and egg donor, both of whom now have kids of their own, to celebrate Mother’s Day with their own families, while still being honored for their contribution to ours. Because they’re such amazing people, they get a whole weekend of love.
We’re not the only non-traditional family who can use this extra holiday. Plenty of special women fall outside the definition of the word “mother” but still deserve recognition for their contributions to families. It could be:
- Your adopted kid’s birth mother
- The woman who raised you in your mother’s absence
- A stepmother
- Your family’s long-time nanny
- A trans parent who’s not sure where they fit in on Mother’s/Father’s Day
- A co-parent
- A mean green mother from outer space
Or whoever you think deserves a special day to honor her for her role in your family.
The same goes for special men, who you might want to celebrate the day before Father’s Day, rather than, you know, not at all.
In writing this piece, I realized I’m not the first one to use the term “Other’s Day”. Some people are even offended by it, which is fair enough. But the distinction is totally up to you and your family to make. If someone’s special to you, you can celebrate them on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Other’s Day. If Other’s Day sounds off-putting to you, call it Special Women’s Day or Special Men’s Day or even something clumsier, like Surrogate & Egg Donor’s Day. Every family’s different, so we can all celebrate in different ways, too.
My kids are still a little young to understand the meaning of our special holiday, but I look forward to getting them involved in it as they get older, doing art projects, Skyping, or sending flowers. It’ll be a great excuse to retell the incredible story of how they were born and to acknowledge what makes our family special. Maybe it’ll also be a reminder of how corny their dads are, but I’m fine with that, too.
Again, I’m not trying to redefine anything, but I think it’s only fair that non-traditional families have a way to honor the people who matter to them. I know, the last thing we need is one more holiday on the calendar, but if Hallmark wants to put out a special card with some schmaltzy sentiment aimed at surrogates or egg donors, they’ve got their first customer right here.
Beautiful. I love how much thought and care you put into raising your kids and how willing you are to provide the Cliff’s notes to others. Happy Surrogate & Egg Donor’s Day!
Well said, Amy!
This is an EXCELLENT idea. Good thinking 🙂
ANYONE who endures any amount of LABOR pain, morning sickness, backaches,tender breasts, and stretch marks, deserves a National Holiday and two weeks vacation in the Bahama;s………
Fabulous idea! It’s so nice of you to celebrate the women who helped to create your beautiful family. And celebrating the Saturday before Mother’s Day is a wonderful way to make sure the kids have someone to make those mother’s day crafts for. Oh, and believe it or not, there is a “World’s Most Amazing Egg Donor” card. I was looking for non-traditional “mother’s day” cards for a friend, and found this one. There are probably surrogate cards too. http://www.cafepress.com/+egg_donor_greeting_card,190255380
That’s awesome! Thanks for showing me that card!
You’re right that it’s an awkward issue, especially in the first few grades of school. We used an anonymous sperm donor to conceive our twins, so there’s no one, really, to acknowledge on that front. When our girls hit school age and Mother’s Day rolled around, they had two mothers to acknowledge, but only one of us could really attend the little Mother’s Day celebration the Kindergarten kids put on, so I went, as the birth mother and as the mom who was mostly involved in day-to-day school activities, volunteering in the classroom, etc.
When the Father’s Day activity came around, my wife attended so that the girls would have a parent there, feeling rather conspicuous, but she was treated extremely kindly by the teachers and made to feel very welcome. The teachers at the school have always been great to us. It helps that some of the kids have single moms, and had mom or a non-father relative attend.
When the girls made cards and projects at school for Mother’s Day, they generally just addressed them to both of us. With Father’s Day cards, we’ve usually suggested to them that they address them to their Grandpas. It’s worked out okay.
I like your “Other’s Day” idea. We just don’t have any “Others” in our family grouping. The issue for us more revolves around having two mothers to acknowledge and figuring out how best to do that without making the girls feel too “different” from their classmates. I think the fact that we’ve been very open about our family structure at the girls’ school from the get-go has really helped.
I really like the way you (and your school) handled your situation. I’m optimistic my kids’ school will be so enlightened. And if not, we’ll enlighten them! 🙂
You make a great point. In these times, there are so many types of families and parents that every teacher should be sensitive about how they handle Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
That is AWESOME! Kudos to you on that!
I babysat a little boy who never had a dad in his life. He told his mom about having to make a Father’s Day card one day. He said the teacher wouldn’t let him put “Grand” in front of “Father” on the card. His mom kinda said, “Well, that’s unfair. Don’t worry, you can add it when we get home, and you can give it to Granddad.” You’d really think that teachers would be sensitive to these things. Not only are there “untraditional” families, but there are those that have suffered losses of mothers and/or fathers. *sighs*
Anyway, I like your idea, and that you will be open with your children about how your family came to be. 🙂
What a horrible story. In a situation like that, the mom should totally say something to the teacher and make sure she’s more sensitive to the kid in the future. Why would she tell him he couldn’t address the card to “Granddad”? What a jerk!
Thanks for the comment! 🙂
I totally agree with you Jerry!
You guys are sure creative about working around these sorts of little social bumps in the road. But really, I never had a dad, so Father’s Day meant nothing to me. (It was one more present or celebration I didn’t have to pay for or think up something clever for.) I never felt deprived by that. What about Grandmother day?…I guess that presumes that there is a grandma floating around out there. After the age of 4, I didn’t have one of those either, or a grandfather…holy cow…I was really deprived. I never thought about it till just now!
Well, if you didn’t FEEL deprived, then you weren’t deprived — at least that’s one way of looking at it. 🙂
What a great idea! Very thoughtful to consider the impact on your children and to honor the women who supported bringing those kids into the world.
Love Surrogate and Egg Donor’s Day! LOVE! Love the form correction too. Wow, we don’t realize that we often exclude more than we include, and your post does this topic a great discussion around this issue, with the nice touch of Little Shop of Horrors! 😀
Glad someone appreciated the reference 🙂
Most definitely! It’s wonderful to have you broaden our horizons. Helps us to understand one another better. 😀
I noticed that the card section started to have an “Lke a Motheri” section in the mothers day card display about 10 years ago. It carefully covered other than traditional mothers.
I want to go to your card store! That sounds great!
We are two dad who adopted from foster care. Until our son was 7, we didn’t have contact with his mom. The hardest part was explaining he had a mother, but she wasn’t a direct part of our family. We saved all the mothers day cards he ever made and gave them to her when we met her. She’s always going to be his mother, and he’s got two dads.
That’s beautiful – and so sweet. I hope she appreciated all the cards and knowing that your son thought so much about her before he’d even met her.
I love this! I’m an elementary school teacher, and at my school there are kids with many different family structures. While a lot of our students do have one mom and one dad, there are lots that have a mom, a dad, and a stepdad. Or two dads. Or a widowed dad and his girlfriend. Or a widowed mom and an aunt. Or a single mom who used a surrogate, or adopted. Or biological parents who live in another state and grandparents who raise the child.
I’m glad that my school takes care of all these different children. All us teachers are aware of the language they use – I tell my students, for example, that “a grown-up at home” can help them pack for the camping trip, rather than saying “Mom” or “Mom and Dad”. We don’t do a lot around Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but we do have an annual “Grandparents & Special Friends Day” where the child can bring a grandparent or any other visitor (parent, uncle, nanny, neighbor) to school with them for the day to show off their school and to celebrate that special person. It’s one of my favorite days of the school year.
I love that. I actually got to be a “special friend” for a friend’s kid one year when his grandparents couldn’t make it to Grandparents’ Day. I hope more schools will follow your lead!
What a fantastic idea! My partner and I were wondering what we would do about Father’s Day and now I’ve got a cool idea to share. Two thumbs way up.
i LOVE THIS POST!!! mY DAUGHTER AND i WERE DISCUSSING mOTHER’S dAY AND SHE ASKED ME “wHY THERE ISN’T S kID’S Day. I told her I didn’t know but decided to remedy the situation because I feel our children and children in general should be celbrated for making us the people we are. I know having my daughter changed my life for the better and although she’s too young to understand that, I still want he to know I appreciate it. What do u guys think?
I found this because I am a single father (divorced) but I want another child and am going through a surrogate & egg donor. I was wondering how I will handle Mother’s Day but now I have some great ideas. Thanks for sharing.
At my daughter’s daycare they have her make 2 presents/gifts on Mother’s day and on Father’s Day she still makes whatever the gift is and she can chose who she gives it to (usually Grandpa).
I know every child’s situation is different. I LOVE your “Other’s Day” celebration! I think it is great. I teach preschool myself and I have made many a card for aunts, uncles, grandparents, 2 moms, or even 2 dads. I think understand the child’s differences is the most important thing. Little kids get just as excited making something for their special grandmother as they do their mom, dad, or anyone else!
That’s great to hear! I hope there are lots more preschool teachers as understanding as you!
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