I know this is a tough weekend for many, especially those of us whose mothers have passed on. It’s my sixth Mother’s Day without my mom, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m struggling. On the other hand, it’s also my first Mothers Day as a grandmother, and I am elated! Because yes, I can be both things at once: deeply saddened because I miss my mom, and joyful that I get to spend my first Mother’s Day as a grandmother with my grandson.
I think Mother’s Day brings up conflicted and complicated emotions for a lot of people. We just only talk openly about grieving our dead mothers or celebrating our amazing living ones. But you know who gets left out of the Mothers Day conversation? Those people who have or had difficult, violent, or estranged relationships with their mothers. I mean, we all know there are awful mothers out there, even if we don’t like to talk about it.
So this weekend, I’m holding space in my heart and prayers for anyone whose relationship with their mother is, or was, a bad one. I can only imagine how painful this particular holiday can be. It’s telling that people kind of just assume everyone has a good relationship with their mother. Although what exactly it tells, I don’t really know. But it just doesn’t seem right.
There’s a meme that goes around at this time of year. I’m paraphrasing, but it says something like, “If you’re blessed enough to still have your mother with you, show her some love. Because you only have one mother, and one day you’ll miss her when she’s gone.” The actual meme is shorter than that, but that’s the message.
First of all, not everyone has only one mother. Yes, everyone only traveled down ONE person’s birth canal. But passing another human down your birth canal isn’t a requirement for motherhood. But also, not everyone misses their mother when she dies. That’s just a fact. Because not all mothers are good mothers.
(And no mother is a good mother all of the time. But y’all aren’t ready for that conversation.)
Some mothers do real harm to their children: mental, emotional, sexual, and/or physical. And their children, especially if they’re on a journey towards healing from that harm, might feel some kind of way about celebrating Mother’s Day. And we need to do a better job of making that okay.
That’s why I send love and light to anyone who has or had a bad mother. As a society, we too often make these people feel guilty for their ambivalence towards such a sacred thing as motherhood. We tell them “at least she gave you life – you should celebrate her for that”. Or, “celebrate the women who ‘mothered’ you in your mother’s place”.
Who are we to police their feelings or actions? Why is it so hard for us to accept that not everyone has a reason to celebrate Mother’s Day? We should extend grace and understanding to anyone struggling this Mother’s Day, even the ones who have their reasons for not celebrating.
Whatever kind of relationship you had with your mother, I hope you find a reason to enjoy this day and every day.
#mothersday #happymothersday #askjanice #suzyknew