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Dear Etsy, Thank You For Letting Us Opt Out of Mother's Day Emails

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Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

For many people Mother’s Day evokes cheerful imagery like handmade crafts and gifts, handpicked flowers and little children making their mom breakfast in bed.  However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone observes Mother’s Day.  At least one company, Etsy, has realized this and is now allowing their subscribers opt out of their Mother’s Day marketing emails.

There are many reasons why this holiday may be hard for some people and why someone may choose to opt out.  It is important to remember that not everyone is a mother, nor does everyone have a reason to celebrate that holiday.

There are many people who struggle with infertility and are unable to become pregnant for a variety of reasons. There are other people who have had miscarriages and were unable to carry their children to term.  For them, Mother’s Day may feel like a stark reminder of what they could never have.

There are people who have made the conscious decision that they never want to be a parent.  For a variety of reasons, they have decided that they do not want to be a mother and may feel targeted around this holiday by societal pressure to conform. For them, Mother’s Day may feel like a day where others are harshly judging them for their personal choices.

There are people whose mothers or children have passed away.  The death of a loved one can be hard enough to cope with on a normal day, without having to endure a holiday that celebrates the very person you are mourning. For them, Mother’s Day may feel like nothing more than a reminder of what they have lost.

There are many children today growing up in households without a mother present. There are single parent households with only a father for example, or children who are being raised by their grandparents. There are trans parents who aren’t female nor embrace the title of mother.  There are also children raised with same sex parents and have the love of two dads in their lives rather than a mother. For them, Mother’s Day may signify that certain family structures are still sadly viewed as less or are discriminated against by some.

There are people who grew up in foster care or group homes, or those who were given up for adoption, who may still bear resentment towards a mother they felt cast them aside.  For them, Mother’s Day may evoke feelings of abandonment and estrangement towards their biological mother.

There are also people who are struggling with the lifelong impact of neglect and abuse.  Not everyone had a mother they would like to celebrate every year. For them, Mother’s Day may be a painful reminder of past traumas they have endured.

Not everything is so simple or black and white, either.  For some people, Mother’s Day may be a complex holiday that elicits a complicated combination of positive and negative reactions.  For those people, Mother’s Day may feel like an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows.

I personally understand this all too well for a multitude of reasons.  I grew up in an abusive household with my mother as one of my primary abusers.  She passed away just over a decade ago. I have had multiple miscarriages over the years. I have many reasons why Mother’s Day is a hard holiday for me. But I also have children that I love very much and cherish with every fiber of my being.  Mother’s Day is a very complicated holiday for me, one that sends me careening every year between multiple highs and lows. I can completely understand why many people may choose to opt out of receiving marketing for Mother’s Day.

It is important to note that this is not in any way an attempt at furthering what some may refer to as “cancel culture.” Etsy allowing people the option to opt out of Mother’s Day marketing is not an attempt to cancel the holiday because they recognize that there are many mothers out there who are worth celebrating. Nobody is trying to cancel Mother’s Day. It is about showing compassion, and remembering that not everyone has the same story, that not everyone celebrates the same things or even has a reason to celebrate some things.

I appreciate that companies like Etsy recognize that there are many others out there like me for whom Mother’s Day may not be such a simple, joyous holiday.  While many people happily celebrate Mother’s Day every year, it is nice to know that some companies are beginning to recognize that it may not be the case for everyone.  I wish more companies would follow Etsy’s lead and take a more compassionate approach to their marketing campaigns.

Lead image via Etsy’s Email

Originally published: April 30, 2021
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