Retailers, Time to Rethink Mother’s Day

At the register, two teenage boys scanned and bagged my groceries. I should have purchased them on Thursday, my usual cut-off day on Mother’s Day weekend. As they worked, I imagined a scene earlier where a shift leader prepped the team for what I knew was coming. “Remember, any woman over 30 gets a Happy Mother’s Day, just to be safe!”

I think of this the same way I imagine a screenplay being pitched after seeing an awful movie. Hollywood types and retail or restaurant shift managers are brainstorming about launching a truly terrible idea into the world.

Since losing a pregnancy at age 40, when asked about my Mother’s Day plans from strangers, I usually smile uncomfortably, anxious to escape the well-meaning hostess with a free flower or wine glass to mark the occasion. It’s not mine to celebrate.

And frankly, if we can be honest, the only reason businesses make a fuss about motherhood at all on Mother’s Day is to sell us stuff.

If your business wants to celebrate mothers, make posters about your paid maternity leave, employee childcare programs, paid days off, and mental healthcare for women who lose pregnancies. You’ll get women’s loyalty. It’s far more impressive than bottomless mimosas.

Thousands of women and I agree with writer Anne Lamott, who this week wrote, “I hate the way the holiday makes all the non-mother, and the daughters of dead mothers and the mothers of dead or lost children feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge…”

Dear businesses: rethink your “we honor mothers” strategy and make it one that has an actual impact on women’s lives. And please, stop stirring up the deepest kind of grief for women.

And for all the moms out there, you deserve kudos every day, including tomorrow.



Stephanie Forté is a storyteller, connector, and problem-solver inspired by the great outdoors and energized by the transformation of people, communities, and brands. She is a longtime advocate for public lands, outdoor recreation, and women’s health.

She spotlights people and organizations creating meaningful change in her writing and award-winning PR strategies. Stephanie also mines her life for stories, and her published essays have helped others navigate challenges and to feel less alone.

Stephanie Forte