Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity for us all to celebrate the emotional and physical labour that goes into mothering, the role of mothers in our own lives and their importance in wider society.
All over the country young children will try their hand at making breakfast in bed without burning the house down; families will go out to lunch or take a walk together; while adults who have long flown the nest will return with flowers and hugs, all to show mothers how much they mean to us.
These are the stereotypical moments we’ve grown to associate with Mother’s Day and they are to be cherished. Parallel to these idyllic moments though, it can be quite an emotionally complex day for many people.
Anyone whose mother has passed away, women who long to be mothers but are struggling with fertility issues, children who are estranged from their parent, mothers who have lost children – these are just some of the people who will likely feel a sting of sadness.
If you are someone who dreads Mother’s Day, here are some ideas that may make the day a little more bearable.
Give yourself some space
Emotional pain is hard for everyone, but trying to avoid it completely can create more problems than it solves. Take a moment in a safe space at some point during the day and spend some time with your feelings. Perhaps tears will come or anger will bubble up; whatever happens is ok. You don’t have to try and work it out, you’re just giving your feelings the space to be, without being judged or filtered. Acknowledging your feelings – however uncomfortable or complicated they may be - will help you to be aware of them as you move through the day, giving them what they need.
Bring the memories to life
Mother’s Day can accentuate the absence of a loved one, making the pain of their loss all the more acute. Whilst it is no doubt hard not to focus on what’s missing, try to bring your mother’s memory to life by doing something she enjoyed, visiting a place she loved to visit or perhaps trying to cook one of her recipes and sharing the meal with others who miss her. Whatever it is, connecting with the memory of a loved one in a tangible way keeps their memory alive and helps you to heal.
Being bombarded with images and stories of seemingly perfect mothers can be very tough to take if you’ve had a difficult or damaging relationship with your mother. If this sounds familiar, why not choose to show yourself some compassion on Mother’s Day? Celebrate your achievements and treat yourself as a loving parent would. This could be something as simple as making yourself a lovely meal, noting the things you’re proud of yourself for, treating yourself to a trip to the cinema – all opportunities for your adult self to do a little soothing and mothering of your younger self.
Share your feelings
If you think you might find Mother’s Day difficult, don’t feel as though you have to suffer through it by yourself or spend the day pretending to everyone that you’re fine. Talk to a trusted friend about your feelings around the day or seek out friends with similar experiences to share your thoughts and anxieties with. Doing this will help to ease the pressure to conform to the greeting card ideal, while simultaneously helping you to feel supported by a nurturing network of friends.
Perhaps at one time, Mother’s Day was a day full of flowers, family, hugs and laughter; it may well be that again in the future – but, for now, if it feels tough, that’s ok.
You are not alone in that feeling.
Remember, it’s just another day and, like every other day of the year, you can live it on your own terms.
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