Each year, families across the country celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. And while the day usually inspires people to buy flowers or jewelry and pamper the moms in their lives, not everyone is feeling festive this year, apparently.
According to a new Yahoo and YouGov poll of 1,555 people, 30 percent each of men and women aren’t planning to celebrate Mother’s Day at all in 2021. Meanwhile, slightly more men than women plan to do something — 60 percent of men said they’ll definitely celebrate the holiday, compared to 57 percent of women.
A higher number of women also said they weren’t sure if they were going to do something for the holiday—13 percent, as opposed to 10 percent of men.
Income played a role, with the likelihood of celebrating the holiday increasing the more money a household makes. Just 51 percent of people with incomes under $50,000 plan to celebrate the day, for example, compared to 72 percent of those that make $100,000 or more.
But people were also divided on the importance of celebrating the day. Around 40 percent of men and women said it’s “very important” to celebrate Mother’s Day, compared to 29 percent of men and 28 percent of women who said it’s "not very important" or "not important at all."
What’s going on here?
Stress from the pandemic is likely a factor, Stephanie Marcello, chief psychologist of University Behavioral Health Care at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, tells Yahoo Life. Stress levels have skyrocketed in the country since the pandemic began and, “for many people, holidays can be a time of stress rather than joy,” Marcello says. That could lead more people to decide they just don’t want to deal with Mother’s Day this year, she says.
Adds Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine and host of the “How Can I Help?" podcast from iHeartRadio, "This year, in particular, many more people are struggling with depression, anxiety, fatigue and stress and they may not feel like they have the energy to plan something and to put energy into something." Plus, she adds, family dynamics can be complicated.
"Not everyone has a good relationship with their mother, or even is in contact with their mother," Saltz points out. "Mother-child relationships are complex, often filled with ambivalence and can go through periods of tremendous rockiness. There may be years, especially a tough year like this past one, when a mother and child aren’t feeling in sync."
As for why more men plan to celebrate than women, it could be that moms are simply overloaded on family time, licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, author of Hack Your Anxiety, tells Yahoo Life. “With the pandemic and virtual lives, families have had a lot of family time, and so many moms are tired and craving space,” she says. “More time together may not feel like the kind of celebration a tired, worn-down mom might want this year.”
A growing number of people are also put off by how commercialized Mother’s Day has become (something the holiday's founder Anna Jarvis railed against before she died), which Marcello says may lead them to avoid celebrating altogether. “After the year we have had, this tends to be a significant factor more so than ever,” Marcello says, citing things like the high cost of flowers at a time when many families are struggling financially.
The pandemic may have also had a direct impact on whether some families even have a mother to celebrate with. “We have lost so many lives this year and many of the lives have been older adults,” Marcello says. “A vast majority of them were mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers — and so this holiday can be incredibly painful. Holidays like Mother’s Day can be some of the most difficult times for those who have lost someone.”
The changing view of women in society can also be a factor, psychologist John Mayer, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Life. "In years past, being a mother was the primary and highest status a woman would strive for," he says. "Women today have more opportunities for sources of self-esteem and achievement, thus being a mother is not the primary or even sole status of womanhood."
Finally, Marcello says it’s possible that a growing number of people are simply over the idea of celebrating mothers on a particular day. “Why pick only one day to make your mom feel special?” she says.
If you’re uncertain what to do for your mom on Sunday, Clark recommends keeping this in mind: “No matter how it’s conveyed, the most important thing for any mom to feel on Mother’s Day is appreciation. Whether it’s through an experience, a gift or simply a heartfelt communication of appreciation, your special mom will appreciate you noticing and appreciating her.”
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