The conversation began:
Hi mum, I spent my first ever Easter cuddling with the dogs and not in church, and I’m struggling to not feel guilty. They kicked me out for being gay and said all sorts of cruel things, and I just can’t do it anymore. I hope you’re not too disappointed in me. It’s just too hard right now.
Here was the response:
You have nothing to feel guilty for, duckling. The people who should feel guilty are the ones who preach but cast someone out for doing nothing wrong. I hope you and your dogs have a wonderful day, and please always know that there is nothing wrong with you. Whoever you love, the people who matter will love them too.
It was a beautiful mother-child exchange, and yet in this case, the two individuals are (presumably) strangers. I stumbled upon it in the subreddit r/MomForAMinute, a community where you can go “when you need understanding, congratulations, praise, or advice from a mother figure, but don’t have one IRL able or willing to provide that for you.”
Participants can either reach out for a mum, or serve as one. Some posters seek reassurance (“I know my grades are a drastic improvement from before I started my ADHD meds, but I still feel like I’m not reaching my full potential”), while others simply want to share some good news (“Mum I went on a date with another girl and I’m so happy!!”).
The responses are non-judgmental and empathetic — no Mum here will tell you that your life might be better if you’d stop eating that second serving of garlic bread or that your sister doesn’t seem to have trouble keeping her kids from flinging food across the table. There’s no script for these internet mothers, who may or may not be women or have children of their own. In one post, a moderator who goes by Lulu018 advises a volunteer response writer: “I can’t ever tell you what to say other than offer kindness and what you would want from a mum.”
Mother’s Day can be a painful time for those who don’t have a mother, or have a fraught relationship with one. There are people who understand that, and want to offer comfort in various forms. The volunteers of the nonprofit Free Mum Hugs show up at LGBTQ pride parades and give “mum hugs” to anyone who might need one.
(The founder of the group even put this post on social media: “PSA.
If you need a mum to attend your same sex wedding because your biological mum won’t. Call me. I’m there. I’ll be your biggest fan. I’ll even bring the bubbles.”)
Some communities have letter writing groups where members pen notes of support to those without mothers. The site Adoption.com has a forum where people have offered to be mother figures to teens and adults.
No one can replace your mum if you have lost one, or fix the damage you may have endured. But if you need support, know that there are people who are offering it. After reading the response from the mother figure on Reddit, the post writer who was kicked out of church for being gay replied back: “You brought me to actual tears, thank you.” Sometimes, Mum really knows what to say.