I Don’t Have Kids: Stop Making Me Host Mother’s Day
If anyone should be responsible for celebrating busy mothers, it should be their partners.
Let me just preface this by saying I dearly love my mother and my sisters. And my mother-in-law is pretty great, as well. Now, Mother’s Day means that as the only childfree woman in my family, I am more or less expected to be the default host for Mother’s Day celebrations.
This expectation comes from both the family I was born into and my in-laws—though to a lesser extent with the latter. And it’s more of an unspoken and unwritten rule. Not once has any member of my family said, “You’re the only one who isn’t a mother here, so you need to host Mother’s Day.”
Hosting Just Isn’t My Thing
However, that unspoken expectation can become pretty passive-aggressive some years. Last year, I debated whether I should offer to host, but I really didn’t want to. To be fair, I never really want to host family gatherings of any sort. Primarily, it’s because I have to clean my house before everyone comes over and immediately afterward because the kiddos generally make such a mess. But I also hate hosting simply because I find it awkward. In short, I’m definitely not the hostess with the mostess.
So last year, my oldest sister hosted Mother’s Day at her own house. That meant my husband and I went there, along with my parents. This was a relief to me at first because it meant I didn’t have to host everyone. And again, I love my family dearly, but my sister’s kids are noisy, messy and destructive. So I was relieved not to have them all over only to discover what her kids broke once they all went home. (It happens more often than you’d think.)
And then, the passive-aggressive comments started from my mom. She’d sprinkle little observations around here and there about how my sister just works too hard all the time. Or she’d go on and on about how busy my sister is or how she never has a moment to herself. “Gee,” she’d say to my sister, “I sure hope you get to relax at some point today.”
Since my sister made the meal and cleaned up afterward, I did feel a bit like a jerk for not hosting. But then, I got mad about that. Why should I have to have everyone over by default just because I chose not to become a mother? And, to a certain extent, my sister is “so busy” and “never gets to rest” because she chooses not to. She’s going a mile a minute, working full-time (at the time), shuttling her kids to their activities and spending hours upon hours volunteering with church and who knows what else.
My Busy Sister Deserves a Break, but That’s Not My Responsibility
Good for her! She truly is a wonderful person. Probably far better than I.
But if she doesn’t rest, that’s her own fault. Sure, she has to work and take care of the kids. But she certainly could free up her time by cutting back on volunteering—if it was an issue for her. Yet, she just piles on more volunteer hours. Evidently, that works for her.
And yes, my mom’s comments could have been totally innocent. However, after 30-some years of knowing my mother, they likely weren’t. Now, those comments could have been aimed at my sister’s husband, who doesn’t appear to help out much around the house or with the kids. Yet even so, her comments nicked me as she tried to shoot them toward my brother-in-law covertly.
I didn’t say anything about the passive-aggression, because we just don’t talk about anything of importance in our family. But those comments stayed with me. And I became resentful, but I also feel really guilty for that.
I’m resentful because, again, I don’t like hosting and feel I shouldn’t have to just because I happen to be the only non-mother of the female family members. And what about my sister’s husband? Why couldn’t he be more overtly pressured into taking over the hosting duties for this one day per year? Or my dad, for that matter (whom I also love dearly)?
I’m Over Mother’s Day
And the guilt!
I simultaneously felt angry about the comments and silent expectations yet guilty for not hosting. I felt weird, too. Like I was standing in the middle of the room and had just insulted someone or said something incredibly stupid. I felt like the elephant in the room, really.
It does feel less awkward with my in-laws, thankfully. I suppose it’s because my mother-in-law is not my mother and my sister-in-law is not my sister, I don’t feel pressured to host them for Mother’s Day. I refuse to take on that responsibility, actually, because I don’t feel husbands should get to shirk all gift-giving or holiday-celebrating duties and let their wives pick up the slack. And in my marriage, my husband is way better at cooking and entertaining people than I am.
Mother’s Day rolls around every year. And every year, there’s this internal struggle for me of feeling angry yet guilty about who is going to have everyone over. That’s why I call total BS on Mother’s Day traditions—there’s just too much guilt and resentment and pressure.