Mother’s Day

Picture of Sarah M Inoue
Sarah M Inoue

Growing up, we never celebrated Mother’s Day because my mother’s birthday was on or near the day and because, as a family, we felt an extra day was unnecessary. I have always had mixed feelings about the holiday. On the one hand, taking time to thank someone and express one’s love is always a good idea, and some people do need a reminder to do so. On the other hand, the holiday can be so difficult for non-traditional families, people without mothers, people with abusive mothers, the list of problems can be long. Once, a college friend of mine and I went out for brunch on Father’s Day and the waitress asked why we didn’t bring our dads – well, because her father had died ten years ago. Holidays can often seem as if they are designed to remind us that our lives are imperfect, not normal, and lacking.

I don’t mean to diminish the experience of people who have wonderful Mother’s Day celebrations full of wonderful presents and crafts from the kids and beautiful expressions of love. I’m so happy for you, truly. Enjoy the moment and the day fully and without guilt.

I am also, as a feminist mother, aware all the time of the amount of work mothers in the USA have to do – the Mental Load – without either strong infrastructure and society support and sometimes without spousal support. I’m constantly trying to un-gender parenting. The person who started Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, according to Wikipedia, “envisioned a day venerating the daily services and sacrifices of mothers within the homeervices and sacrifices of mothers within the home” (

In my work with the rare community, I notice that mothers often bear the brunt of the work taking care of the child with a disease and this can overtake their other work and change the course of their lives and their careers. In some ways, this can be a beautiful undertaking, where mothers help the whole community and our society deal with these illnesses, but in other ways, it is may be just another way that our society depends on unpaid work to solve problems no one wants to look at.

In 2017, on Mother’s Day, Rare Disease Report recognized the work of some of these mothers. I hope these stories make all of us feel better about ourselves and our lives and what we can accomplish. I applaud these women and everyone dealing with rare disease.