For me, Mother’s Day brings up memories of my brothers and I coming up with nice things to do for mom on those special Sundays when we were kids.
A generation later, my own children made cards, bought mugs from school fundraisers that said things like “World’s Best Mom.” I know that’s a crowded field since so many of those mugs and other trinkets are sold each year — but still it makes you smile. And I’m sure I’m not alone in having plenty of moments when the message of that mug made me shake my head and turn it around in the cabinet so I couldn’t see the ironic message — just after I was much less than World’s Best Mom…
Mothering children, for all its wonder, is hard — and to all of you out there who are right in the middle of it — take heart, you are doing a good thing. Peace be with you!
This year brings another layer of challenge to what is always in place at Mother’s Day, because some families are choosing to stay separate from each other because of the threat of coronavirus. Some are forced to stay away because of hospitalization, or lock-down in a senior living facility.
Add to that the struggles we may have when we see other families getting together in large family gatherings and we are choosing not to — two ways of looking at what matters – and we can find ourselves feeling angry, whichever way we decide to look at the issue of distancing. This anger at one another adds to our troubles.
Putting that layer aside, Mother’s Day is hard for many and perhaps on a day when we celebrate love, one loving thing we can do is to remember that for some, maybe more than we care to know, Mother’s Day is hard.
On this day remembering moms who were always inattentive, or who lacked the skill and compassion needed to deal with the emotions of their offspring, still brings pain and the scars remain.
On this day some experience guilty feelings because they were that inattentive mother, or they were that difficult and disrespectful child — and the issues remain unresolved.
Still others approach Mother’s Day with grief because a loving mom has died, or because as the mother of a child that died or was otherwise separated – empty arms seem even heavier on that day.
For many reasons Mother’s Day can be hard. We don’t have to worry that we will become cynical killjoys if we recognize that. And maybe more importantly, if you are the person lacking the enthusiasm or sentimentality of the words on a greeting card, that doesn’t mean you are bad.
And you certainly aren’t alone.
The feelings that attend difficult relationships can leave us feeling somehow oddly different from everyone else. Those feelings pile on to the losses and grief that surround our relationships and we feel even worse.
It’s important for us all to remember that grief, just like joy, is a shared experience. To live is to have joy. To live is to have grief. And sometimes these two feelings are only inches apart, reminding us of our common humanity and that we are not alone in either. We are in this together.
Here are some things to consider if Mother’s Day is hard for you.
- Face your feelings and memories head on — let them register, but don’t hold them too tightly;
- Pain and negativity should receive their due, but other experiences and feelings are near too—can you open up to them?
- Celebrate what you can — gratitude clamors for expression as much as grief does;
- Keep working toward the courage to forgive or ask forgiveness if that is what is needed—what steps can you take?
- Keep working to forgive yourself when you need to;
- Find that place in your heart that can be glad for others who have what you are missing.
Wherever we are on the spectrum of emotion around Mother’s Day, giving ourselves and others space for authenticity can be a good gift that stays with us every day. Jesus said, “Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those that weep” – it’s a flow kind of thing that has rhythm and balance and warmth, like the womb of a good mother.