Seriously. It is not a day I personally enjoy.
I know, many of you do. It is a wonderful reminder of the love you feel for both your own mother as well as your own children. You have a partner who takes the opportunity to show you appreciation for the gift you offer his or her children every day and makes a point to tell you that on this special day. I am grateful that so many of you have this experience.
However, for me, and for many others, it is simply a reminder that your own mother was NOT what you wanted or needed and continues to be a challenging person with whom to have a relationship. It is a reminder that your partner, or ex-partner, was not able to be what you needed or wanted either. And, then, you are left with the responsibility of showing your own children what to do on Mother’s Day. Alone.
Grief. Sadness. Loneliness. Anger. Guilt. Shame.
It is a time of LOTS of feelings. ALL THE FEELS.
So, it gives us the chance to redefine what this day means to us. It gives us a chance to celebrate the gift of being a mother. For ourselves. And for our children.
In a way that feels genuine and authentic to who we are and what we believe in.
For me, now, that means NOT sending my mother anything at all. Because nothing feels right. For me.
I went through many years and many different ways of figuring this out… one year I sent a blank card and wrote “Thanks for giving me life” inside. I know. I know. It is sad. But that felt like the most real thing I could do. It was genuine to how I felt.
Then, the last few years, I realized that I didn’t have to do anything. Because THAT felt real and genuine. My anger had turned to compassion and that compassion turned to, well, just lack of feeling much of anything at all. She and that relationship just don’t take up much real estate in my head anymore.
Except leading up to Mother’s Day. The old feelings of obligation, and guilt, and anger, and sadness, and grief well up each year. And each year, now, I hug them. I just get curious about them and allow them to exist. Without needing to do anything about them. I ask myself if I want to do something different this year. So far, the answer has been “no.” And I am able to just let the day pass by. Again. For another year.
That is progress for me. It feels like a good place to sit. It feels like compassion with boundaries. It feels like taking care of myself. In a way she never could.
For my own children, I have decided to simply ask for time with them. Usually, I ask for help with some yard projects. Because I enjoy that time. All of us, working together, outside, as a team. On our yard. At our home. Investing in garden planting that will feed us all over the summer. In weeding and spring garden clean up so that our home is a warm and inviting space that serves as a retreat for all of us. Often we are just working, and chatting, and not chatting. And then, we can look around and see the tangible results of our team work.
I tell them how much I have learned and continue to learn by getting to be their mom. That the experience of being their mom has added such a richness to my world that I am forever grateful for the opportunity. I thank them for allowing me to be a part of their lives and for letting me into their worlds.
Because I believe that. And I want them to know that I value the experience. So. Much. That I see it as a gift. Not a burden from which I want an escape or a sacrifice for which I want to be thanked.
I thank THEM. Because without them, I would not be a mom. And I LOVE being a mom. Their mom.
So, for me, Mother’s Day, in the conventional sense, can suck it.
And, here’s hoping that all of you who struggle with Mother’s Day will find your own way through. Lean into the pain, hug those parts of you that have all the feels, and trust yourself to find your own authentic way of being with this day. Whatever that means for you.