Upon hearing the words “Mother’s Day” you may immediately think of the Hallmark version of this holiday, full of flowers, cards, moms and daughters in matching dresses, and fancy brunches. But, that’s not everyone’s experience. Mother’s Day evokes a variety of emotions and can be a very difficult day for many, depending on the circumstances of their family.
If you are struggling with fertility, loss, or disconnection from your family, it might be more like you are “getting through” this day rather than celebrating it. Recognize that this is a painful day for many people, and you are not alone.
Here are some examples of what you may be feeling and ways to cope on this holiday.
Issues with Fertility
If you are struggling with fertility, miscarriage, or even the process of adoption, this day might evoke feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, or shame. You may question your capacity to be a parent and even blame yourself for not being able to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. You might have a deep desire and longing for a life with children that you want, but feel powerless over making that life happen. You may also not feel happy for other mothers, while feeling guilty for not being able to celebrate them.
Whether you are struggling with the loss of a child or your own mother, this day can intensify the grief of that loss. While you might cope well on most days, Mother’s Day can highlight the significance of that loss in your life. On the contrary, some mothers might even be mourning the loss of their carefree life before they had kids, and feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame because of those feelings. Countless people are feeling a sense of loss and mourning on this day, so let Mother’s Day be a day of remembrance of your loved one who has transitioned on, or your life that has inevitably evolved.
The mother you never had
Lastly, you may have had a challenging childhood with a mother who was depressed, abusive, absent, or suffered in other ways. You may long for a relationship with your mother that you never had, and potentially never will. Even though your mother is alive, you might not have a relationship with her at all. This might manifest as frustration, disappointment, blame, or even anger. Your feelings about this relationship are valid and deserve to be recognized. Allow them to be present with you today, while considering that your mother may have been doing the best she could at the time.
Ways to honor and cope
No matter what you are feeling on the days surrounding Mother’s Day, it’s important to take care of yourself. That might mean connecting with others who understand how you feel, perhaps through a fertility or miscarriage support group, or connecting with a friend who has also endured what you have experienced. Consider attending a local meet-up with other people experiencing fertility issues or reaching out via social media or Facebook groups to find support. Sometimes, quiet time in nature, hiking, or spending time near water can be very soothing and nurturing on high-emotion days. Yoga is always an effective outlet and helps you move energy and feelings through your body. Practice your favorite self-care activities that make you feel valued and whole.
Similarly, Mother’s Day might be a day for tighter boundaries and more intention around who you interact with. If you have a friend who triggers you to feel inadequate or wants to talk about the details of a situation in your life you’d rather not discuss, don’t answer his or her calls on this highly emotional day. Instead, do something nice for yourself or even consider a ritual to honor whatever it is that you are feeling. For instance, if you are mourning the loss of your own mother, buy her favorite flowers and drop petals along a hiking path as you reflect on her best qualities. Consider writing a letter to the child you’ve lost that reflects your feelings and celebrates their life and impact on you. If you are struggling with fertility or adoption, celebrate the hard work you’ve been doing on the path to becoming a parent with a nice dinner. Establishing new and thoughtful rituals on challenging holidays can help us heal, strengthen, and transform.
At Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, our team helps clients navigate intense emotions that are often illuminated around major holidays. These emotions are almost always related to core issues that can be addressed and overcome with therapy. If you are ready to share your story with our team, and begin your path to deeper understanding, schedule your feel consultation.