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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?


Newforestpony Sun 10-Mar-13 17:49:28

I loved Mothering Sunday as a child - great memories of hedge picked posies, lovely cuddles from my mum, etc.

Fast forward to adulthood and 6 terrible years ttc. Finally we did IVF which thankfully was successful first time round. But the week before egg collection (full of hormones and feeling generally pretty horrendous) we had a christening to attend. It was the worst service I have ever attended . . . . The intro speech went something like this: "Hands up, those who have a family. Hands up those with children over 18. Hands up those with children under 18. Hands up those with children at primary school. Hands up those with babies . . . . " and that was my cue to burst into tears and leave the church. So, so thoughtless and uncaring for anyone in similar circumstances.

Today however, having become a reasonably regular church goer in the last 2 years (due to a very empathetic vicar), I really enjoyed the service, although I did cry when the children presented the mummies (me included :-) ) with a gauze bag including items like a marble "In case you lose yours", a safety pin "For always keeping me safe", a tissue "For wiping my tears away" - you get the gist! Plus a little posy of daffs.

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 10-Mar-13 17:57:37

It's why the Sunday was chosen as Mothering Sunday actually.

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 10-Mar-13 17:58:08

Mothering Sunday originally also had fuck all to do with Mothers.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 10-Mar-13 18:00:46

I am dredging my memory here Knowsabit, but I think there was a tradition on Laetere Sunday to return to the "mother church" - ie cathedral rather than parish church - and that was pre-Reformation. Which then morphed into the "going home" tradition post reformation, which morphed into Mother's Day. But then, I was educated in Catholic schools, and they may have been quick to claim anything as Catholic...

There is certainly less emphasis now compared with protestant churches IME.

We went to our Quaker Meeting this morning where we focused on caring for the Earth, the children and young people joined the adults half way through the meeting (after some time thinking on our own) and we shared our thoughts on one of our favourite places. Everyone drew or wrote about their favourite place on a strip of paper and then when we went into the large meeting everyone was given paper to do the same. Then we joined all the links together in a paper-chain which was then put in a circle around a picture of the Earth from space.
Mothers as such didn't get a mention but there was a lovely feeling of community amongst us all.

If I was you I probably still wouldn't go to a Mothering Sunday service. I don't think most churches have got it right yet, although in some ways giving a flower to all the women in the congregation could be a step in the right direction.
Still slightly patronising and commercial though (especially these days) that mothers need a special day to thank them.
I think it's best celebrated at home really with a hand-made card and a cup of tea in bed brew
Will go back and read all the posts now .... just responding to the OP ATM x
Hugs and thanks to all ... and most importantly a brew

TheFallenMadonna Sun 10-Mar-13 18:01:59

Oh yes, nothing to do with Mothers. Just the Church. Now that is the Catholic way...

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 10-Mar-13 18:15:26

Of course grin ....

Jojobump1986 Sun 10-Mar-13 18:36:47

Our church showed a YouTube video about how much mums do, followed by a little speech about how wonderful mums are. I kept expecting a mention about how difficult it is for some people but there was nothing. Our pastor & his wife adopted their eldest after being told they couldn't have children so you'd think they'd be a bit more sensitive! I'm aware of at least 1 couple who I'm pretty sure are having problems conceiving. They've not said anything to anyone specifically as far as I'm aware but their reactions to some things have given me enough reason to think it might be a sensitive topic. She wasn't there this morning, which isn't unusual due to shift patterns.

Even as someone who's not had problems getting/staying pregnant or lost a child, I was acutely aware of how gushy it all was & I felt bad for anyone sitting there listening who might be upset by it.

UnbearableRuth Sun 10-Mar-13 19:00:26

Thanks to all - it sounds like its all a bit of an unpredictable mixture! I think I could have been OK with going to a church like DandyDan or carola describe but would have found one like Jojobump's quite upsetting - and Newforestpony that sounds really lovely for those who are mummies but quite insenstive to those who aren't.

I had a lovely day out and have really enjoyed the day anyway, but I'm considering going to a quaker or catholic service in 2014 - I'd like to not feel I have to exclude myself on a day that has such issues for me. I move quite frequently so tend not to be well-known enough in the churches I've attended to influence any service content, and wouldn't want to have to spill my guts about long-ago pain on an annual basis just to find out in advance what the service will be like!

KenDoddsDadsDog Sun 10-Mar-13 19:10:45

Glad you have had a lovely day - you sound very thoughtful towards others .

Newforestpony Sun 10-Mar-13 22:26:55

Mmmmm, Ruth it could have been insensitive, but the service also talked about those who had or still have difficult relationships with Mother or child, plus those who are hoping to be mothers, those who have lost mothers and/or child(ren), and the different types of mothers people have now.

It felt infinitely more inclusive and understanding than the christening I referred to. That took me several years to recover from :-(

Glad you had a good day - yes, come to a Quaker Meeting next year ?! smile

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