When Mother's Day hurts
May 14, 2017
In the United States today is Mother's Day. We're reminded of that in a million little ways: from television commercials for Hallmark cards, to ads for Mother's Day brunch deals, to countless social media postings about mothers and motherhood.
I'm always aware that days like these can be fraught and painful, for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you had a difficult relationship with your mother. There are mothers who are neglectful, narcissistic, and/or abusive; maybe yours was one. Maybe this day reminds you of everything you wish your relationship with your mother could have been but wasn't. Or maybe you had a wonderful relationship with your mother, and now she has died and this day reminds you of how much you miss her.
Maybe you yearned to become a mother, and faced infertility. Maybe you yearned to be a mother but your marriage has ended. Maybe you've had a miscarriage, or an abortion. Maybe you are a mother, and you have a painful relationship with one or more of your children. Or maybe you are a mother and your child has died -- the English language offers us a word for a child whose parents have died, and a word for a person whose spouse has died, but we don't have a word that means a parent who has lost a child.
All of these are land mines hidden among the greeting cards, the commercials, and the friends on social media posting photographs of their happy families and hand-drawn mother's day cards. There are endless social and cultural messages telling us how we are "supposed" to feel today. And it can be extra-isolating to feel out-of-step with the way we think we're "supposed" to feel on a birthday or an anniversary or a holiday like this one. Days like today can evoke, trigger, and intensify feelings of loss.
If you are someone for whom today is purely sweet, I am glad for you. May you be blessed to always experience this day as a source of sweetness.
If you are someone for whom today contains bitterness or sorrow, I am holding you in my heart. Be gentle with yourself today in all the ways that you can.
- When Mother's Day Hurts, Psychology Today
How To Deal With Mother's Day When Mother's Day Hurts, Lifehacker
- How do you handle mother's day when your mother was abusive? The Invisible Scar
- 7 ways to remember the hurting mothers this mother's day (on mothers whose children have died), Still Standing