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mother's day 2020

For Mother’s Day 2020, the Globe compiled some of our favourite stories tackling the joys (and pain) of being a mother. Plus: ways to celebrate the moms in your life this weekend

To celebrate Mother’s Day this year:

The hard lessons I learned when my Korean mother-in-law moved in

Richard Scott-Ashe

"Each of us was certain the way we had been raised was correct. I wanted [my son] to be independent and tough – she wanted him to be kind and happy. I knew from personal experience that the things she wanted would be hard to achieve if we focused on the things I did. Her mom sided with her, if you can believe it. In the end, they won me over, maybe because they were right or maybe because there were always two people talking at the same time.

And I remembered that one of my main reasons for marrying Sun was to make sure if I ever had kids, they would grow up to be like her. I also recognized her mom’s starring role in creating her. As a show of good faith, I started washing the occasional dish by hand instead of trying to hide it in the dishwasher.

My mom-in-law and I arrived at an understanding. We realized we were on the same team and working toward the same goals and would be for some time."

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Globe and Mail writer Sarah Hampson is photographed with her sons on May 2, 2019. From left: Tait Clarridge, Luke Clarridge and Nick Clarridge.Fred Lum

When cancer and motherhood collide

Sarah Hampson

"Strangely, it turns out that cancer and motherhood have quite a lot in common. Each changes our lives and sets us on a course that will never be exactly the same. And each forces us to count time. Months until the next scan. Weeks until the next infusion. Days until you start to feel better after chemo. It’s the same precise marking of time we did to assess the developmental milestones of our newborns. Cancer survivors routinely count the years since their diagnosis – five years out, 11 years out – in the way mothers note the ages of their children. And for cancer patients with a terminal diagnosis, the due date is when death arrives rather than birth.

No wonder many women are obsessed with their bodies. They are capable of so much: intricate molecular mysteries. When pregnant, our bodies can knit together a human being while we blithely watch television. Having cancer is like living with a difficult teenager – you’re often worried about what he will do next. With my diagnosis, I became a frightened hostage inside a body with a will of its own, and that sense of powerlessness was never more obvious than in my relationship with my children, now all grown up."

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Why don’t we celebrate Mother-Daughter Day instead?

Ellen Weber

"Within society’s growing awareness of women’s worth, perhaps Mother’s Day could offer an ideal moment to celebrate more women in more diverse situations.

Why not celebrate the mothers who did their best – even when that best wasn’t enough to support their family well in tough times? It’s been suggested that my own mother failed her seven children, mostly because of her inability to be there for them while she tried to survive an abusive relationship and then died in her thirties. Motherhood may not have offered her its traditional pleasures and joys, but she was also a daughter of my amazing Nana. How could that love bond and gift have been celebrated more on Mother’s Day? Would the addition of Daughter’s Day within Mother’s Day help?

And what about the daughters who have lost their mothers, or mothers without daughters nearby? Mother-Daughter Day would give voice to the joy of being somebody’s daughter, even if caring relationships and bonds slip off tracks or if bumps on the ice come between them.

Love shared on a Mother-Daughter day celebrates that lifetime bond and lets us thank our daughters uniquely: to thank them for loving our grandchildren even more than we love them. (If that’s possible!)"

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My mother isn’t perfect, but she still inspires me

Marie-An Hoang

Ma is defined by motherhood. She lives her life for her family. She loves it. She hates it. I am defined by my desire to be a mother. Because of Ma. Despite her mood swings. Despite her secrecy. Despite her sudden spurts of anger. Because she’s human. Not perfect. Because motherhood is the only 'hood where you’ll find your most loyal homegirl.

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A letter to my young daughter for Mother’s Day

Lindsay Gibson

"Throughout your life, your gifts – your voice and your ability to guide – may be misconstrued as being bossy. When your kindergarten teacher predicted you’d be a leader, I beamed with pride and then wondered if she was telling me you were difficult or overbearing. On the contrary, you and others like you were born to clear a path. Don’t dial back or change who you are to please others.

There will always be people who will try to steer you. Be mindful of their words. Hear them when they support and encourage you. Ponder them when they question you. Don’t believe them when they try to hold you back from who you are or strive to be."

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I’m a new mother and a pediatrician - so, basically, I worry more

Leeza Limenis

"Hey Google, is it normal that my 3-month-old only sleeps if I’m holding her?

I don’t remember how many times I’d typed questions like this into the search bar before I felt a tinge of embarrassment. I am a pediatrician – shouldn’t I know these things? I am a person of science – shouldn’t I turn to better resources than Dr. Google and mommy blogs? It turns out that years of post-secondary education in science and a residency in pediatrics could not prepare me for motherhood or save me from the traps into which every desperate sleep-deprived new parent has fallen."

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Wenting Li/The Globe and Mail

We need to rethink the First World problems of motherhood

Brittany Lambert

"One thing I can do is stop worrying about my children’s First World problems and encourage others to do the same. Those of us fortunate enough to be living in Canada must channel our energy into supporting those in need, no matter where they live.

We all deserve a chance to raise our families in safety and in peace."

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My mother no longer knows who I am

Carolyn Davidson

My mother doesn’t know who I am, but she wishes she did. I can live with that.

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Kim Cattrall is right: Giving birth isn’t the only way to motherhood

Zosia Bielski

“To those who argued that loving children and raising them are mutually exclusive experiences, Cattrall replied: “The more love, guidance and support for children the better.” Thankfully, some mothers agreed with her. The more “moms” the merrier was their attitude. It takes a village to raise a child, they said.”

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Drew Shannon

By doing the unthinkable, my mother showed me the true meaning of sacrifice

André-Jean Maheu

“My mom couldn’t stand the thought of her three kids roaming around on city streets all summer long. She deeply loves nature, especially the ocean. She also deeply cared about sharing this love with us. What this meant though was that, to do this right, every June, instead of just cashing in her two weeks vacation pay, she would simply quit her job without a clue what she would have to fall back on in September, pack up the car and drive 12 hours to the ocean so that we got to spend our whole school vacation riding our bikes, playing on the beach, fishing for mackerel and, yes, especially for me, stuffing my face with the sweetest raspberries in the world. These were the happiest moments of my childhood. I didn’t understand at the time the immense effort and courage these summer vacations required.”

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What it’s like to be the mother of two autistic boys

Susan Cosgrove

With [my oldest song] Liam, it took a long time to get a diagnosis. So by the time [my younger son’s] diagnosis came, it was like validation. In Phoenix’s case, I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t have that same feeling of validation. When you’re actually in the room and you hear it and you get the diagnosis, it’s not like a sentence, but it’s like, “Here it is. Here’s the rest of your life.”

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Motherhood hit me hard. But now it feels like a lifetime promotion

Olivia Glauberzon

“How quickly the arrival of my daughter changed all of that. At first, I resented being the “mom.” My husband and I were once working equals, both contributing to our household income. However, because I wanted to breastfeed, biology made the stay-home decision for me. Initially, my transition to motherhood felt a lot like a demotion – working wife to human milk dispenser.”

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On Mother’s Day, stepmoms navigate tricky emotional territory

Leah McLaren

"There is a reason entire religions have been founded on the worship of the Mother. It is an almost mythical role – one that cannot be filled or encroached upon by the woman your divorced dad met on eHarmony and decided to marry.

We stepmothers, on the other hand, have a mythical status of our own – and it’s neither flattering nor fair. We are the interlopers, the homewreckers, the lady monsters in yoga pants who stake our territory through merciless redecorating. To love us seems a betrayal of The One.

This is nonsense, of course, but it brings us to the bigger issue: What, if anything, do stepmothers actually deserve on Mother’s Day?"

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Why moms prefer experiences to presents on Mother’s Day

Gail Johnson

Vancouver’s Sophia Cheng was thrilled a few years ago when her husband organized a family day trip to celebrate Mother’s Day. Along with her sister, they visited a peony farm, which happened to be having an unusually early start to the season that year.

“My mom, sister, and I used to watch these Chinese TV soap operas that centred on the Chinese dynasties,” says Ms. Cheng, who runs her own public relations firm. “I have loved peonies since learning all about Chinese imperial history, where peonies are prevalent in art.

“It was magical to see rows of these peony shrubs all over and unpicked,” she says. “Peony heaven. Sometimes just one large peony in bloom is enough to brighten up a bad day.”

What made that Mother’s Day so memorable was discovering a new place with those she holds nearest and dearest. “The peony farm was an experience,” she says. “I’ll never forget it.”

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It’s time to close the praise gap

Dave McGinn

“The barrier to entry to the good-parent club shouldn’t be so impossibly high no woman can vault it, but nor should it be a wide-open door that any guy who has ever changed a single diaper can saunter on through. If we want to do something that’s good for all parents on Mother’s Day, let’s close the praise gap.”

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Motherhood takes on a different meaning when you visit your 19-year-old son in jail

Lisette Surette

I dreaded the visit. I have been dreading it for months. A friend of mine looked at me with kind eyes before I left. “Enjoy it, have a good time,” he said. “You are going to see your son.”

I swallow the lump in my throat and decide that, no matter what, I will provide love and compassion to my son today. My job is no longer to kiss away tears, keep him safe, drive him to soccer practice or meet with teachers and chair the PTA. That was the past. Motherhood now is stripped down to the barest of bones.

I have never even walked by a jail, let alone set foot in one. I will spare you how I came to be here, outside the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre, but here I am, set to visit my 19-year-old son."

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Cicely Brown and her children by Peter Brown (left to right, Ian, Julia, Jaima, Tim). Artifacts from the life of Ian Brown's mom, photographed on May 8, 2018.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Remembering Ma by the things she left behind

Ian Brown

“Weighed against her tantrums with the stick – this is the way these equations balance – were astonishing bouts of warmth and kindness. Her generosity was legendary. Her loyalty – in the face of any setback, whether a disabled grandchild or a financial collapse – grew straight out of the earth. She hated her weight and the way she looked – late pregnancy had taken its toll – but loved anything beautiful or skilled: a room, a clock, well-cut hay. She liked dirty jokes but not cheap ones. She was afraid of pregnancy but terrified by menopause. She was the hardest-working person I have ever met. She berated my father daily, and stayed with him to the end. She was a mass of throbbing contradictions. Every mother is. Too bad we never celebrate that”

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As a doctor, it was tough to admit I was struggling with new motherhood

Judy Hagshi

"Outwardly, I was coping. I greeted my husband with a smile when he came home from work. I took the baby to check-ups and playgroups. Inwardly, I was screaming but nobody could hear me. I kept lists of all the things that I had to do, but never had the energy to get anything done. ... All mothers feel overwhelmed to some extent by the birth of their first child. But it took me many months to recover. How could I admit that I was drowning when I was supposed to guide other mothers through this difficult transition? To be clear, I was not suffering from postpartum depression. I was, however, having significant trouble adjusting to my new role as a mother and caregiver.

What surprised me the most, though, was that no one else seemed to be having the same problems: All my girlfriends seemed happy and well adjusted after the birth of their babies. Occasionally, I would hear a mother whisper at the park that she was having trouble, such as getting the baby to latch easily. And there always seemed to be an apology: “We just moved,” or “My husband just got a new job.” It was not enough that she just entered a significant new stage in her life – she had to invent excuses for why things were not going smoothly."

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The third way to motherhood: I conceived with a sperm donor

Noemia Antunes

"This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. There was supposed to be romantic music, luxurious bedsheets, a wonderful man and at least 15 minutes of fun! Instead, I got a 60-year-old doctor, a catheter, awful lights that illuminated every globule of cellulite, and two minutes of discomfort. My best friend held my hand and consoled me.

My son is now 2, and all of that agony seems like ancient history. He is the very best part of my life and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I have a great career, wonderfully supportive friends and family, a comfortable home – but this little man, he is my ultimate joy."

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