Tzivi Nochenson
An Orthodox Millennial Mom in Israel

Mother’s Day: It’s Complicated

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I vividly remember what the sunset looked like the night before Mother’s Day twenty years ago. It was one of those stunning sunsets with an array of pastel colors in the sky. I felt like a spy on a secret mission. My father and I had ventured out to get a Mother’s Day gift for my mom.

The idea of picking out a special surprise for my mother was thrilling. I will never forget it. We settled on a colossal basket of home spa items. Needless to say I think my mother could have done without it, but she still expressed gratitude the next morning. Later that day we would join together with my extended family and properly celebrate the day. 

As a child I loved Mother’s day. It was full of love, flowers and family. I imagined that one day when I was a mother we would all go out for a grand brunch, my husband and kids would surprise me with the perfect presents and I would get to share in the day alongside my mother, aunt, and grandmother. How fabulous! Needless to say, twenty years later the day surely is not what I imagined.

I am an Orthodox woman living in Israel. I certainly changed the trajectory I had in mind when I envisioned those Mother’s Days many years ago. Thank G-d I am the mother of two beautiful children and I am happily married. I have had my share of cute presents and gift cards the second Sunday of May.

Now as an Olah Chadasha, I am not even obligated to celebrate this American holiday. Although as for many American olim, old habits die hard. I would be lying to all of you if I said these are the only reasons Mother’s Day is different. Almost nine years ago my mom passed away. A day that used to be filled with fragrant bouquets and sparkling jewelry is now a day of grief.

When I first started to experience Mother’s Day without a mother, the grief was an enormous weight on my shoulders. Eventually, I became a mother myself, which softened the grief but surely did not rid the day of it. As time went on, I realized that Mother’s Day is truly a complicated day for so many people. There are many raw emotions tied up on a day with so many expectations. 

Women who are desperately trying to conceive and going through tremendous pain to get there, I see you.

Women who are still searching for their partner in life, aching to one day have the opportunity to become a mother, I see you.

Women who have lost a child or pregnancy, women who have complicated relationships with their own children and for children who have a strained relationship with their own mothers, I see you.

For the Olim who quietly wonder on this day if they made the right choice to raise their children thousands of miles away from their own mothers, I see you.

For the mothers of Olim who feel the loss of their children and grandchildren living a world away from them, I see you.

For the mothers who are brand spanking new to this club with glossed over eyes wondering at 3 am if this was really worth it, I see you.

For all the mothers who go through the motions on this day with missed expectations, screaming children and a sense of disappointment, I see you.

And of course for all of us in the motherless children club, I really see you.

Mother’s Day is more than bright greeting cards and breakfast in bed. It is a day that we may question one of the biggest relationships in our lives and our own personal roles.

This Mother’s Day, honor your feelings. Whether it is grief, disappointment, hope or joy; feel it loud and feel it proud.

To mothers, women and children for whom this day evokes a slew of feelings; I see you, I hear you and I feel you.

Happy Mother’s Day

This blog post is dedicated to my beautiful mother, z”l




About the Author
Tzivi Nochenson is a wife, mother and proud Olah Chadasha. She balances the unique role of a returnee to Torah Judaism and a modern day millennial woman. She is currently pursuing a dual masters degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. Tzivi lives with her wonderful husband and rambunctious children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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