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Mother’s Day: an emotional trigger.
Yes, it’s an enjoyable day if your family is genuinely close, but if you are one of the millions of perfectly imperfect women who have dysfunctional and heartbreaking family situations, Mother’s Day is a holiday that’s hell on Earth.
It can twist your heart into broken pieces and reinforce loneliness, self-punishment, resentment, anger, depression, and grief. It can also leave you with “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, if only” deep regrets. It’s a culturally imposed holiday that brings out your negative inner critic who haunts your soul by agreeing that there must be something wrong with you and nothing wrong with anyone else.
Mother’s Day Empathy Lessons 101
For a mega-dose of empathy, here are situations that don’t lend themselves to a Happy Mother’s Day. (Please keep these people in your prayers, even if your day is a beautiful one with your loved ones.)
Mother and child estrangement
What if you are the target of your child’s mental illness and erratic behavior? You have decided to cut off the relationship before you are entirely destroyed. It is never easy to estrange yourself from the child you gave birth to or adopted, but to save yourself, it is a needed temporary or permanent option.
How do you think this mother feels as Mother’s Day marches full force into her life?
What if your adult children are still suffering from the childhood wounds they experienced with each other and within the family system? They are going to therapy, but there is no definitive healing on the horizon. There may never be a “Kumbaya” moment when the family hugs and forgives each other and moves forward together. The pain may be too difficult for them to realize the context that surrounded their childhood and family dynamics.
How does each person deal with their emotions on this day? As the parent, how do you love yourself through it all and not want to punish yourself for not doing enough and being enough? How do your children put their resentment on hold long enough to tell you that they appreciate and love you?
Death of a child
What if one of your children died from an illness, an accident, or was murdered? How do you think that mom feels on Mother’s Day? I can only imagine the dark undercurrent of deep emotional pain that has no words—only sobs and shrieks of grief that haunt her in her silent moments.
A struggling single mom
What if you’re a single parent trying your best to put food on the table and love your children all you can? Despite three jobs and no sleep and the threat of needing to sleep in the car or at a shelter, how is this a happy Mother’s Day for her?
Infertility or consciously deciding not to have children
What if you consciously chose not to conceive? Does that make you a “bad” person on Mother’s Day? How do you have the self-esteem and inner strength to transcend the cultural and social stigma surrounding this decision?
What if you simply realize that you aren’t a nurturing person?
What if your truth is that you don’t want to care for a child and don’t want to bring them up in a troubled world?
What if you love your career and don’t want to juggle your life between parenthood and your career?
What if you like nurturing other people’s children but would rather not have your own?
What if you have infertility issues? How do you think Mother’s Day feels for the woman who would give anything to have a child, but after going from doctor to doctor and operation to operation, she realizes she can’t conceive?
Troubled relationship with your mother or mother-in-law
What if we didn’t have a good relationship with our mom or mother-in-law, and whether they are still living or have passed on, we struggle on Mother’s Day to find a place in our hearts for empathy, forgiveness, and compassion? It all feels so fake.
Tips on how to get through Mother’s Day
If you are playing the game of pretending Mother’s Day is a good holiday, but inside your soul it feels phony, torturous, and tough beyond words, here are healing tips for your aching soul. Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” I believe in that motto too.
Life is all about personal growth, learning from life’s lessons, and learning to love yourself through the darkness and pain. Know in your heart of hearts that you did the best you could for who you were then and what you knew at the time. You have the power to define your life in new ways.
Your badge is not “mother,” “childless mother,” and you are not your hurt, pain, and unresolved healing wounds.
Your badge of honor is that despite any circumstance you have gone through, you are still here. A survivor of life. Determined, resilient, hopeful, persistent, and empathic enough to help others with their grief and struggles too.
You are an amazing human being filled with the capacity to heal and love and find moments of inner peace and happiness amid the chaos of life. Don’t let your past define you. Open your heart to yourself and to others. Don’t crave appreciation from others. Give yourself the appreciation you desire. Love yourself. Give yourself a hug. Write down all your stellar attributes (yes, yours). Write down all the challenges you have had in your life and how you made it through.
Bake or buy yourself a cake that says, “You Matter,” or “I Love You,” and make this Mother’s Day special for yourself. Hug your inner child and love who they are—their pure soul. They are part of generational patterns. Their parents were part of generational patterns. Soften. Open your heart. Awareness and mindfulness break negative patterns and return you to a place of love.
One more thing: even if you are estranged from a child or the relationship is a strain and unsatisfying, use the power of thought-transference and send your love and healing light to them. Visualize hugging together. Feel the hope. Love from a distance or close. Just love. Happy Mother’s Day.
(If I left out any other situations that are personal to your life, please share them with me in the comment box.)