As I sat in church with my family yesterday (a wonderful, rare event), I couldn’t help but notice the pain in the eyes of so many people. I saw those who have never been able to have a child, wishing they were being celebrated. People sat hundreds of miles away from their parents or children, wishing with everything in them they could be together. I saw those who had buried their mother, or their child. And some were even thinking back to the abuse their own mothers inflicted on them and wishing they could join in on telling the positive memories as others were doing.
Mother’s Day isn’t always happy. I know far too many people who mourn, rather than celebrate on this holiday each and every year. Often times that mourning goes on for days, or even weeks. While I wish I would have posted this before the holiday, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk to all of you for a few minutes.
For Those Who Aren’t A Mother But Want To Be
If you struggle with infertility, this time of year is hard. Your friends are being hailed as superheroes, and you’re sitting on the side lines trying to make yourself appear happy. Your heart longs for a child, but it just hasn’t happened, or you’ve been told it can’t happen. I’m sorry. I can’t imagine the level of pain that you’re in. But please know, you are an amazing person! From pulling yourself up after another negative pregnancy test, to cheerfully (even if it’s just on the outside) attending your friends’ baby showers, YOU ARE STRONG! I know this time of year is hard. But it will end. You will be okay.
For Those Who Have Lost Someone
Whether you’ve lost your mother, or a child, death is so difficult around Mother’s Day. My Facebook feed has been full of posts mourning those who have gone on. My brother passed away several years ago, and I know my mother’s heart is so pained each and every year. She doesn’t get to get that special hug and hear, “I love you Mom” that she heard for most of his 32 years on earth. And it’s hard. Then I looked at my grandmother who lost her mom a few years ago and I see the pain on her face. She can’t call her Mom and tell her just how much she loves her. If you have lost someone, please know I am so sorry! There are no words that can help you to feel less loss this time of year. But you will get through this. As hard as it is, YOU CAN MAKE IT THROUGH.
For Those Who Didn’t Have A Great Childhood
This topic encompasses a lot of people. My mind goes to my nephew who spent a lot of his life in foster care, my dad who grew up in less than ideal conditions, those who have suffered emotional, physical, or mental abuse by their parents. I see that person who whispered to me during the Mother’s Day sermon, “That preacher sure didn’t know my mom.”
I’m so sorry that your relationship with your mom wasn’t what it should have been. It has to be extremely difficult to hear others proclaim the love they have for their mothers and all of the wonderful memories they have of and with them. This week is hard, and I am truly sorry. Don’t let those who have hurt you steal your smile.
For Those Who Have Been Forgotten
For you Moms out there who didn’t hear, “Happy Mother’s Day,” please hear it from me now. If you weren’t celebrated this year, I am sorry. Most years, I may receive a quick after thought of a gift and that’s about it. It’s very easy to get upset, feel less important, or even get angry. Maybe your kids are grown and just forgot to call. It could be that your own family’s just really busy and no one even realized what day it was. Or maybe you’re a single mom who doesn’t have anyone to encourage your kids to celebrate you.
Please dear Mom, CELEBRATE YOURSELF. Know that you are doing a great job! Don’t minimize your feelings. Talk with your friends and family and drop a few subtle (or not so subtle) hints about ways that next year can be better for you. Don’t let others make you feel like less of a mom.
Some Tips To Make It Through
Know You Aren’t Alone
The first thing I want you to know is despite how it may feel, you are not the only one suffering. Keep this in mind: Were you open about your pain with strangers yesterday? Or did you just pretend to go along with the program? My guess is the latter. And that’s okay. If you’re not comfortable sharing your feelings, there is nothing wrong with that. But guess what? More than likely, other people were also just putting on a facade to get through the day.
It’s Okay To Feel Upset
It can be so easy to add guilt to the negative feelings when you’re sad or angry on a day that has been deemed a happy day. You may feel you’re putting a damper on everyone else’s celebration and therefore make yourself feel worse. Don’t do that! Please know that it’s okay to not be happy on mother’s day. If you have lost someone, you have every right to mourn. If you don’t have any pleasant memories regarding your mother, that’s okay too. You don’t have to fit into the social norms.
You Don’t Have To Meet Other’s Expectations
“No” is a complete sentence. We all struggle sometimes with saying it to others, but we shouldn’t. The fact is if you know you will struggle by going to a church service that is all about having a happy Mother’s Day, it’s okay to say, “No.” If going to your in-laws home will be a trigger for you, say, “No.” Don’t feel guilty for isolating yourself, if that’s what you need. Sometimes we all need some time to ourselves, or even to just pretend it’s just another day without hearing and seeing all of the hype. If Mother’s Day is difficult, you may even want to take a short break from social media to avoid seeing all of the posts.
Talk To Someone
It’s so easy to pretend your tough and that it just doesn’t bother you. But it does. And keeping it inside is just going to make things more difficult. Please find someone you can confide in: A friend, pastor, family member, or even just a blank page in your journal. Don’t let the negativity build up until you explode. Lay it all out on the table and have a good cry. Then stand up, and reclaim your smile.
Find Someone You Can Help
One of the greatest sources of joy is found by helping someone else. So if you have found yourself down and discouraged around this Mother’s Day, try to reach out and help someone else. Make a meal for the family who lost their mom to cancer earlier this year. Go and visit that elderly mother in the nursing home whose children have forgotten her. Be an advocate for those who are hurting this season and try to find peace in their joy.
Remember, It’s Just A Day
Easier said than done, I know. But guess what? There are 365 days out of the year. 364 of them are NOT Mother’s Day (obvious, huh?). I know, this time of year is rough. But please don’t let ONE day steal your smile. Don’t let unrealistic expectations, bad memories, or guilt cause you to lose sight of the joyful things that are happening right here, and right now. Don’t let the past ruin the present or the future.
How do you handle holidays where you just don’t feel you have anything to celebrate?