When Mother’s Day is Hard


If you’re to go by the scenes you see in movies, television and on social media, Mother’s Day is the sweetest and most relaxing day of celebration there is. Happy smiling mothers being fed breakfast in bed by cherub faced toddlers, given bouquets of flowers, and sent off to the spa after a relaxing brunch. In reality, this is often not the case. If breakfast in bed is given, especially by a toddler, it often requires more time cleaning up by the mother afterward than is spent actually eating in bed. Trying to get children to behave nicely at brunch, I can tell you from experience, is a task unlike any other. And the spa, who really has time for that?

The normal annoyances mothers face on this day of celebration are one thing, but what about those who truly struggle on Mother’s Day. There are countless reasons people can struggle on this day – their mothers have passed away, they have a fraught relationship with their mother, they’re dealing with infertility, they’ve lost a child, or they don’t have a supportive partner – all of these are valid reasons to want to cocoon into themselves for the entire weekend.

One mother I spoke to is coming up on her first Mother’s Day after a miscarriage and has very complicated feelings about the upcoming reminder. A local mother of two living children, and two angels, she states “On one hand, I am dreading the day, especially since I didn’t disclose to my young children about my loss, so they won’t fully understand why I’m not myself. On the other hand, I don’t want to deprive myself of a happy day, because I truly love being their mother and want to enjoy my day with them.”

Another local mother spoke about her struggles when her children were young and her husband always worked weekends. “I would be home by myself with two toddlers and scrolling on Instagram to see all my friends out to brunch, getting handmade cards, and breakfast in bed, and I felt so much jealousy. I love my husband, and he always tried to make it up to me, but it was still hard wishing I could do the traditional things on Mother’s Day that I always imagined I would do. After a few years of this, I made a ‘no social media’ rule on Mother’s Day and would do a fort and movie day – it made the day way more fun”.

So how do we deal with all of these big feelings? Make big plans to do something else, so the day is no longer “Mother’s Day” it’s “insert activity here” Day. Find friends who are also not feeling the holiday either and go hiking; nature is a great healing presence as well. Go to the movies and treat yourself to a big bucket of popcorn – extra buttery. Go to the zoo and spend the day distracted by animals and a good walk in the fresh air.  

Another healthy strategy that the mother above used is to shut off social media for the day so we aren’t comparing our day with everybody else’s. Let’s also remind ourselves that social media is not real and what you see isn’t necessarily what is actually going on in that person’s life. So shut off your access to the outside world, and cocoon yourself with the things that bring you joy. Make yourself a cup of tea and crack open a library book if that’s what helps you feed your soul. Or make a fort in the living room and spend the day watching a movie marathon, or binge watching your favorite television show. 

Most importantly, prioritize yourself and your mental health. If doing a certain thing on this day doesn’t serve you – don’t do it. Be kind to yourself, and remember you are not alone.


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