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AIBU to boycott church on Mothering Sunday?

(37 Posts)
UnbearableRuth Sat 09-Mar-13 21:00:09

Putting this thread here rathr than AIBU because I want to hear about your experiences tomorrow (if you go) rather than be mauled by the tigers that prowl the AIBU board... (sorry for the long OP though)

I'm a semi-regular church-goer (about 3 times a month usually) but I have avoided going on Mothering Sunday for more than 10 years.

I lost my baby back in 1999 and the pain was awful - and for a long time everything that reminded me of motherhood, babies etc was brought back the pain and grief. I was clearly very damaged back then (I've had a LOT of councelling since). But, where I was at the time, I resented society being so baby-focused, hated the way that colleagues brought their babies into work to be admired and cooed over (no-one knew about my past there), and I really HATED the mothering sunday service. I've moved around a lot so I experienced a few different ways that different churches do it - generally there's a homily about just how marvellous mums are, and generally there are flowers distributed. Sometimes everyone in the church is given a posy of flowers to give to their mother, sometimes all the women in the church are given flowers on the assumption that they may be mothers in the past present or future. The time I was given a bunch of flowers in a service in a church that held the latter view I felt physically sick and had to leave - it felt like being stabbed. The next year it was a different church and a different policy but the whole thing made me angry because it seemed so insensitive to make this big thing about mothers whithout mentioning or acknowledging the pain of those who aren't on the motherhood path for whatever reason. Then the next year I went somewhere else and it ironically was even worse because they DID acknowlege the tragedies that lead to griefs such as mine - and the platitudinous lip-service to such deep pain seemed insulting. I therefore decided to never go to church on mothering sunday again.

Now, I've made my peace with the past, I have a lovely thriving delightful son and I'm part of this marvellous thing called motherhood.

However, I feel that I have to be true to and respectful of the opinions I held back then. I therefore did not take my baby in to work when he was little, feeling that I needed to be sensitive because I did not know what tragedies my colleagues may have in their private lives, and I still don't go to church on Mothering Sunday so won't be going to church tomorrow.

On the other hand, I've been wondering whether I'm being unreasonable. I know that my hatred and pain back then was a genuine reaction to an awful situation - but that's not who I am any more. I can see that there is much in motherhood that is worth celebrating and giving thanks to God for. I wonder whether I should end my boycott.

So can I do a completely unscientific survey? I'd like to know, from those of you who do go to church tomorrow, how does your church do it? How much acknowledgement is there of all the different reasons there might be to not be joyfully celebrating motherhood? How sensitive is it to non-mothers who may be present and miserable?


ThreeBeeOneGee Sat 09-Mar-13 21:03:54

Obviously I haven't been to tomorrow's service yet, but last year they concentrated on the idea of the mother church. No posies in sight. The curate lost a baby within the last year so I think the leadership team will continue to be sensitive to the needs of the whole congregation.

hiddenhome Sat 09-Mar-13 21:42:42

I haven't been to a service in the Catholic Church on Mothering Sunday yet, so I'll have to see what they do. I'm not in contact with my own mother, so the day has the potential to be painful, but I just concentrate on being a mother to my dcs which helps take my mind off it.

One of the beauties of going to Mass is that it hardly varies from week to week, so you know what to expect and very rarely get any shocks or nasty surprises which can effect you emotionally.

Tbh I think if you do find something very painful, then it might just be best to avoid it and do something else rather than go to church and risk being upset. I don't think they could possibly effectively acknowledge or address all the possibly ways that pain might be felt on such a day and that anything they do say would just be a platitude.

I hope you have a good day tomorrow whatever you decide smile

DandyDan Sat 09-Mar-13 21:55:02

I think although Mothering Sunday evokes many painful thoughts and memories and situations, it is also a day in which we can try to remember "our Mums" or those who have mothered us. Not every human on the planet can be a mum, for many and various reasons, some of which are tragic and deserve to be sensitively handled. But everyone on the planet has had a mum or someone who will have acted as a mum to them - whether it was a dad or a grandparent or a sibling who brought you up, or a foster parent, or a carer in a children's house. We can try to remember those people, and even if we didn't know our own, or have lost them recently or many many years ago, or even if we didn't feel affection towards our own, we can pray and give thanks for all those who try to fulfil that role today. Does that make sense?

In our church, everyone - male and female - gets a bunch of flowers with which they can remember their mums or those who mothered them.

SE13Mummy Sun 10-Mar-13 01:18:05

Of course there's nothing unreasonable about avoiding a situation that reminds you of such a sad time of your life. And it sounds likely that whatever any church does on Mothering Sunday, you will find it hard.

Having been a church-goer all my life, I stopped going for about a year because it felt as though everyone apart from me could get, and stay, pregnant. I had had a series of failed pregnancies and could not cope with church full-stop. Mothering Sunday included, even though I already had a 3-year-old. DH and DD went but I stayed at home, had a long bath and read a book.

Churches I've been to have marked Mothering Sunday in a variety of ways and even if it's been focused on the historical origins of the occasion, more is made of mothers than of those who are not. It's always seemed to be up to sensitive members of the congregations to give flowers to those for whom the day may be meaningful for painful reasons.

If I were in your position I probably wouldn't go to church tomorrow (today!) but would find a way to talk about/get involved in Mothering Sunday 2014 at your church so it doesn't hold any surprises for you but also so it might make the service a bit easier for those who are/have been in a similar position to you.

piprabbit Sun 10-Mar-13 01:28:20

I was wondering if you have heard of Saying Goodbye who are arranging a series of remembrance services for people who have suffered the loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy at cathedrals all around the country.

I hope you have a love-filled day with your DS.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Sun 10-Mar-13 07:21:03

I'm about to run out of the door to preach at two services on Mother's Day at a church I don't know. I suspect there will be posies which I don't like but the message I'm preaching is that motherhood is part of life which is messy and God, in Jesus is with us in the mess . In the congregation in front of me I don't know who wants but can't have children, who has just miscarried, has just lost a mother, who had an abusive relationship with a mother and so it goes on. Motherhood is complicated.

Praying for anyone who finds today difficult.

Carolra Sun 10-Mar-13 07:35:01

Last year we went to church in my home town for Mother's Day (visiting my mum) and the sermon was about how we're all mothers, mothering isn't necessarily about having children, it's about caring for each other, there were posies, and I think all women got one.... We moved last year so we've not been to church here on Mother's Day before... At the moment we're not 100% sure we're going because we have a christening later at a different church and I'm not sure dd and DH will cope with two services in one day...!

We will also be praying for anyone who finds today difficult for any reason xx

heronsfly Sun 10-Mar-13 07:41:42

Our Church ( Catholic) is unlikely to make any mention of mothers day,I hope enjoy your day with your ds.

CabbageLeaves Sun 10-Mar-13 07:47:26

I find Church does many traditional events badly. It's like they've forgotten to really think it through 'because its tradition' therefore it must be right.

I should add that many people including myself, love tradition but I think it should be really thought through

I think your view is valid OP. Just as the Church should reconsider and reevaluate their views so should we however. Doesn't always mean changing what you do though

CabbageLeaves Sun 10-Mar-13 08:02:34

I hesitated to put my experience because it seemed insensitive after your post but on rereading the OP you start by asking about them:

I used to love M Sunday as a child. I remember picking primroses in the hedges of the lanes near my home (couldn't pick wild flowers now!) and blue grape muscari to make little posies we tied off with foil and wool. These were handed out in church and I loved fetching one for my mum (never thinking about the fact she had helped make her own and that of many other women in the congregation)

Roll forward to when I'm a mum: I remember two episodes. Once when working full time and v busy with 3DC, I was asked to make 15-20 bunches of flowers to give to ladies (to show how much they are appreciated) and the 2nd when I was having a dire time with 2 teens who apparently hated me. Neither time did M Sunday feel anything other than a nasty joke.

I'd have thought you could ask a man to make posies rather than a busy mum? The 2nd event seems possibly silly but it symbolised for me how the whole tradition could be superficial

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 10-Mar-13 08:04:23

At my church , it's just a normal Catholic mass with the readings/ sermon taken from the cycle. Zero mention usually. We just get a little prayer card at the end with mother on it.

CorrieDale Sun 10-Mar-13 08:32:35

Another catholic here and the mass is always the same. The gospel this week though is coincidentally the prodigal son.

Daffodils are occasionally given out to all the mums and I was touched a few years ago to receive one despite not being a mum. I had had 3 miscarriages and weirdly found the daffodil gave me some hope and consolation.

I'm doing the children's liturgy today and plan on letting the children make finger painted bookmarks for their mothers but I think that's all the write up the day will be getting. I wouldn't want anyone to be hurt by coming to mass but when you suffer loss you're so raw that all kinds of things will cause pain. Mother's Day I could cope with - i was pretty well armoured for it - the priest telling us that god loved us when I had just had another loss made me weep where I sat.

Jaynebxl Sun 10-Mar-13 08:34:54

I've never really been in a church that does much about Mother's Day except once when the children gave all the mums daffs and a single friend who desperately wanted to marry and have children cried her eyes out. I suspect today there may be some mention but I'm not sure.

Jaynebxl Sun 10-Mar-13 08:35:31

Posted too soon ... In your shoes, if it isn't painful now, I'd be tempted to go and look out for people for whom it might be as hard as it was for you.

Hopeforever Sun 10-Mar-13 08:42:59

I'm on a Facebook group with lots of clergy, some of them have posted about how hard today is for many

I'm a vicar and I'm sure i too will be crying today after many mc. Having my dd there will help, but I still miss those babies so much

COCKadoodledooo Sun 10-Mar-13 09:07:10

I lost a baby last year. Am finding this morning harder than I imagined to be honest - there should be 3 cards on the mantelpiece, 3 pairs of arms giving me cuddles; stroppy but gorgeous 9 year old, preschooler and snuggly, milk-sodden baby. I could happily (wrong word!) stay here and wallow but will go to church for the sake of my living babies, and to celebrate the joy that is motherhood, along with knowing I am being carried in my grief. I also want to go to celebrate my relationship with my mum, as a thank you to her for bearing me (in more ways than one!).
My friends at church know our situation and have loved and supported us so much. They'll know it might be difficult, as I do for some of them, and I feel if I hide away at home then I'll be cutting myself off from that support.
I know that doesn't really answer your question! Only you can decide how you feel. For me though I don't really mind what's said or who gets flowers, I will feel comfort being with friends and a God who loves me.

Carolra Sun 10-Mar-13 10:35:02

So... Service was nice... We gave thanks for our mothers and prayed for those that did not have a good relationship with their mums, we gave thanks for being able to be mothers and prayed for those that were unable to have children, those that found motherhood painful, had lost children and those with sick or missing children. Flowers were offered at the end for anyone who wanted to take them.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 10-Mar-13 12:41:37

Boycott is a strong word, implying that you are protesting about the contents of the service.

In our church today, we also recognised those for whom today is difficult or bittersweet.

The focus of our service was caring and compassion, which are qualities not limited to mothers, although definitely demonstrated by mothers.

hiddenhome Sun 10-Mar-13 14:18:43

Went to Mass earlier and they just did it as normal with no mention of Mothers Day, so I felt happy at that smile I can't be doing with any commercial fuss being brought into a place of worship.

I hope the OP is having a nice day, as are the rest of you smilethankssmile

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 10-Mar-13 17:08:55

Mothering Sunday is not commercial fuss. But it's not RC either, so let RCs equate it to commercial fuss. Job done.

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 10-Mar-13 17:20:34

It was actually celebrated on Laetare Sunday and started as a Catholic tradition .

TheFallenMadonna Sun 10-Mar-13 17:31:45

Mentioned in a bidding prayer at mass (lots of Catholics on this thread!)

DH and DC also went to Church Parade at a Baptist church and it was all about Mothers and how sacrificial they are apparently. They brought me back two potted plants.

nickelbabe Sun 10-Mar-13 17:31:58

totally yanbu.

actually the sermon at our church this morning started with a very sensitive bit about people who find mothering Sunday hard for many reasons.
so it was nice to hear that, especially as our vicar is a man.
he then went on to talk about Mary and the church in general, and Moses etc.
he made it really obvious that it's not really about mothers in the way that it seems to be these days.
our church has always given posies to all women, full stop, not "because they might be or have been mothers" - probably because of sensitivity to sadness. but everyone hads had a "mother" at some point.

<unmny hugs>

Knowsabitabouteducation Sun 10-Mar-13 17:41:38

I don't think Laetere Sunday has anything at all to do with Mothering Sunday, ancient or modern.

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