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The Hallmark Holidays


a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, June 17, 2010

Oops, another one's coming: a Hallmark Holiday. These are the “holidays” invented — I suspect — in order to sell cards, flowers and other “stuff” we don't need. In the Spring we have the dyanamic duo: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Working with people struggling to have children or to move on after pregnancy or neonatal loss, I have come to have little use for either occasion. They bring pain, not only to those struggling to build families, but to those who have lost children, lost parents or are estranged or far away from a loved one.

Mother’s Day is surely the more serious offender. For weeks before Mother’s Day we are blasted with advertisements for flowers and jewelry that are “just right for Mom.” Restaurants cut back on their regular menus and feature the Mother’s Day brunch. Even our local ice cream parlor gives a rose to every female customer who in any way shape or form resembles a mom. It’s a hard day to escape.

Father’s Day, this Sunday, is a bit more benign.

There are no advertisements for flowers for Dad. You needn’t invest in a gold heart for him or go to brunch wearing a corsage. Father’s Day is a day for an outside barbecue, a sunny afternoon at the grill, a day that people can go to a ball game or organize a ball game or have a picnic. There are cards and ties to contend with, but it is not Fatherhood overload. Still, it is good when the Monday after Father’s Day arrives. Now we have 11 months of respite from major Hallmark holidays.

What do you do if you are dealing with infertility and face the “HHs?” I have found that many people do fine by focusing on their own mother or their father rather than on their own lack of motherhood or fatherhood. Of course, it is way more difficult for those who have lost a parent or who live so far from their parents that a visit is not do-able.

For them, I suggest an escape. If this is your situation, take the day to be together doing something out of the ordinary for you, something you don’t often have a chance to do together, something you wouldn’t or couldn’t easily do with children.

If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me or post your questions below.

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