Happy (?) Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2014


By Billy Kaplan

Mother’s Day: two words that send chills down the spines of adoptive mothers the world over.

Years ago one mom told me how much she dreaded Mother’s Day because every one of the previous celebrations of it were just horrible. The kids sabotaged each and every one.

So as I met with each of the kids that year, I asked them a simple question the session before the “blessed” holiday: “If you want to ruin Mother’s Day for your mom, how could you do it?”

For every idea they offered, I upped the ante and suggested worse things, most of which were real things they had done previously.

Why did I play this game? Wasn’t I giving them ideas? I think not. I think I was playing out their hand and diminishing the power of those actions.

And then I asked each of the kids another simple question: “Why? Why would you want to ruin Mother’s Day for your mom?” And none of them had an answer.

But I did.

I suggested it made sense to me that they may want to ruin Mother’s Day because it seemed that the holiday made them think about their birth moms. And how she abandoned them. And how they may be angry with her about that. And how she isn’t there for them to express the anger directly to her. And how they may be expressing the anger they feel toward their birth mom onto their mom, who IS there.

And maybe how they really DO love their mom. And so maybe they feel disloyal to their birth mom. So maybe if they are ruin Mother’s Day for their mom, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to send a signal to their birth mom that they feel guilty about loving their mom. Because they still love their birth mom; even if they are angry with her.


The next week when I came out, mom met me on the porch, hugged me, cried, and thanked me for making Mother’s Day, this year, a good experience for her. And her kids. Our game and discussion worked.

So, maybe, just maybe, you might consider playing a game of “how-could-you-ruin-Mother’s-Day-if-you-wanted-to” with your kids, followed up by a discussion of why. May you feel some moments of love and appreciation on Mother’s Day. You deserve it!

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