Why Your Gushing Mother's Day Tributes On Social Media Are Totally Insensitive
By Erin Rudkin
Posting images of you with your mum on social media on Mother's Day is selfish. There, I said it.
While I'm sure your bottomless brunch, extravagant bouquet, filtered selfies and gushing tributes your mum mean the world to you and her, just spare a thought for those of us who would rather see literally anything else but this, plastered all over our Instagram feeds.
Because while it's great that your mother is here and you can spend the day together, not everyone gets the opportunity to do so.
And while it's lovely that you and your mum are so close, that she's your best friend, and is - quite literally - a superhero in your eyes, for others this day is about nothing but grief, or heartbreak, or anger, or anxiety.
And seeing your social media posts, which don't have any consideration for those of us who dread this day, really, really, hurts.
My mum is absolutely amazing. She's a single parent raising her two children on a low wage, who puts everyone else first, has the most wicked sense of humour and is, frankly, a total babe.
She passed away from cancer in 2011 aged 51, when I was just 21. I talk about her like she's still here because, if I refer to her in the past tense, I get a lump in my throat and have to instantly change the subject to stop from crying.
She died in February - weeks before Mother's Day. Ironic. That first Mother's Day without her was one enormous haze of messages and calls from friends checking in to see how I was coping. I was still deep into my grief and, although social media wasn't as rife then as it is today, it felt like the longest day of my life.
But here's a second cruel irony. Her birthday is in March. March 11th, to be exact. When Mother's Day fell on March 10th in 2013, I suffered an extreme bout of depression; Facebook and Instagram had become the mainstream by then and were rife with soppy posts. I switched off my phone for the entire day.
When Mother's Day fell on March 11th in 2018, I was practically suicidal.
On that day in particular, I was pregnant with my third child. I had miscarried twins the year before, but this time round was sporting a huge bump in a complication-free pregnancy. I had told myself for weeks before that this Mother's Day was going to be different; I was going to be a mum soon!
It would come to mean something else to me and be less grief stricken. I'd get through the day smiling, I promised myself - even if I was dealing with a double whammy of sh*tness.
I woke up early (needing to pee for fifth time in eight hours), walked downstairs to make a cup of tea, sat on the sofa and unconsciously opened Instagram. Big mistake.
It wasn't even 9am and my feed was absolutely flooded with pictures of people declaring their mum the best in the world. That promise I made myself? It lasted all of five minutes. Half an hour later, my husband found me, still sobbing, on the sofa.
Now, I want to make it clear that I don't hate you for your mum being here. I say with complete honesty, that I couldn't be happier for you that you can spend this day - and every day - with your mum. Believe me, though, it's hard not being able to do the same makes me look at people who can and think, 'wow, they're so lucky'.
I want you to remember this day forever. Talk about it for weeks to come. Take all the pictures you need to.
But if you are going to post them on social media, please - I beg of you - take 30 extra seconds to give a thoughtful nod to the many people who will have cried today - whether you know about it, or not.
Because the fact is that Mother's Day means a hell of a lot of different things to a hell of a lot of different people. The girl who lost her mum to an illness wishes with all her soul that her mum was still here. The girl who was in care and will spend the day with her adoptive mum, wonders where her biological mother is.
The girl who is estranged from her mum wonders why it happened, what she could've done differently, and what her mum is doing today. The girl who's been trying to get pregnant for years - who longs to be a mum - is desperate for a Mother's Day when her little girl or boy brings her breakfast in bed and tells her she's their favourite person.
To the people who know this, and who take the time to acknowledge these challenging circumstances in their social media posts on Mother's Day, each and every one of those girls thanks you.
To everyone else, make this the year that you don't just think about you and your mum. Take your photo, write your post, then add these words: "I'm also sending love to anyone who finds this day difficult". That's it. Job done.
What will I be doing this Mother's Day? I'll be talking to my little boy about his wonderful grandma and silently thanking her for all the amazing lessons she taught me in how to be a good mum.
And perhaps - just perhaps - this will be the first Mother's Day I don't avoid social media.
Featured Image Credit: Erin Rudkin