I’m sorry. I said it. It needed to be said. For some people, Mother’s Day sucks. It’s supposed to be a day to feel special, but for so many women, Mother’s Day is one of the saddest days of the year. It’s the only holiday I can think of that when it comes around, I cringe at the hurt I know girls I love will feel. I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day but even that has potential. You can focus on love not romance. The focus of Mother’s Day is moms. Period. And if you don’t have one or you want to be one but aren’t…you feel worse than the last kid picked on the playground. Every. Year.
And it’s not just those struggling with infertility or who have lost a mom. It’s those who have painful childhood memories.
It’s those who are moms before they were ready or are raising kids who aren’t their own. It’s hard for moms who recognize the blessing of their beautiful children but will always be reminded and bear the pain of the child(ren) they’ve lost. It’s every woman who’s ever had an abortion or placed a child for adoption or waited on the other end of that adoption. It’s single moms and moms who may not be physically alone but aren’t appreciated. It’s every mom who’s sat beside a hospital bed not knowing if her baby would make it.
For many, Mother’s Day sucks. And if you are fortunate not to fall in any of those categories, I pray you remain aware that this day that brings you such joy is painful for some around you. Be careful what you say and ask. Be mindful what you share.
If you do fall in one of those categories, you already know Mother’s Day is hard. But no matter what your situation, there are a few things you can do to help you through…
1. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS – We are girls, and that means that our imaginations can get the best of us. We can dream up unrealistic dreams that we know can’t be met. And we can dwell on doom-and-gloom scenarios until we collapse in a puddle. Be realistic. If you are in a tumultuous marriage, don’t expect to wake up to flowers and cards. If you are struggling financially, don’t (ask for or) assume you’ll get an expensive handbag for a gift. If you are the last of you friends to get pregnant, don’t join them for an afternoon barbecue. If you are a single mom, don’t expect your kids to learn how to cook and clean overnight. In any scenario, tell the people in your life what would help. So often, they are willing; they just don’t know what to do. They can’t read your mind. Tell your husband what would make you happy. Explain to your friends what they could do to help the hurt sting less. Show your kids how to make toast. 😉
If you are a friend to someone for whom Mother’s Day sucks, please don’t ignore her. It doesn’t help to feel left out because no one knows what to say. You don’t have to say anything. Just love on her.
2. GIVE THEM GRACE – People are going to say/ask dumb things like “Don’t you want to hurry up and have kids too?” or “I thought you’d prefer to go out to a restaurant with the kids” or “Are you sad that your mom isn’t with you this year?” Try not to yell “DUH!” or other choice words that generally have 4 letters. Know that they don’t have ill intentions. If you’re able to, answer truthfully and gracefully. (“Yes, this day is hard for me. Thank you for asking.”) If you need to just walk away, walk, sister!
3. FIND THE GOOD – Anytime we are hurting, that pain can blind us to the things around us. Try not to get lost in the dark and miss the rays of light. Try to look for and focus on what’s good in the midst of the hurt – even if it’s small. They forgot or the effort was lacking, but you have a family and that’s a place to start. You can’t have kids yet, but you have hope and a husband to hold on to. At this age/stage, it’s not likely you’ll ever get married or have kids, but you are surrounded by friends and family who love you. Your mom is gone, but you are who you are because of her. There is good if we’ll look for it. You may be in a hospital room staring at lots of machines and wires and it’s hard to find. Know that you are not alone. You can’t escape what happened in the past. Know that your past does not define your future. Sometimes the good is hard to find. But if you look, you’ll find something. And when you do, no matter how small, hold on to it.
I’m not saying it will magically change and the day will be ideal, but if we manage our expectations, give them grace and find the good, Mother’s Day can be a day we find more strength within ourselves than we knew was there. And that’s something to celebrate.