Despite what Facebook and Instagram would have you believe, Mother’s Day is not all balloons, flowers, cards, love and chocolates. For many, the hangover following this holiday is in full effect. Around Mother’s Day, there can be difficult conversations and experiences that are often not acknowledged.
This graphic is the perfect illustration for some of the feelings experienced by those who didn’t have the societally-normalized Mother’s Day.
Starting from the top left – mothers who have lost children. How difficult this day is for those who lost a child or children. Perhaps it was a child they never met alive, one who was miscarried or stillborn. Or a child who died after spending a few years on earth. It can be very challenging to celebrate your special day when the child who made you a mother is no longer here….or never came to be.
Those who have lost their mothers have Mother’s Day as a reminder of how much they may miss them. It’s not an easy day celebrating the memory of your mother without being able to hug or talk to her anymore.
Have a strained relationship with your mother? A mother’s day Facebook feed of people who call their moms their best friends could be difficult to see when you and your mother have historically butted heads or not seen eye-to-eye. You may wish it were different and that you too could fully celebrate your relationship with your mother. Vice versa, maybe you’re a mom who has not been able to fully connect with your own son or daughter in a way you had always hoped. This day can be a reminder of that disappointment.
It’s not a popular decision but there are women (and men) who chose not to have children. Incomprehensible though it may be to some in society, it’s still a valid, though often not validated, choice. These people, women in particular – who choose not to have kids- have their own battles. Their decisions are questioned by others, especially around Mother’s Day.
On the other side of that same coin are women who are desperate to have children. They’ve been through painful egg retrievals, suffered the side effects of Clomid and other fertility drugs, IVF, and at the very sign of their cycle starting, realize their efforts were all in vain. They grieve the glimmer of the dream they temporarily had, hoping that this time, the pregnancy would stick. They feel betrayed by their bodies and wonder ‘why me?’. They find it difficult see babies or pregnant women in public, and to celebrate others’ baby showers, though they do.
Beyond the above illustration, there are mothers who didn’t necessarily want to become mothers, or who had a very different idea of what raising children would be like. Their sense of fulfillment is lacking and they feel that there is no one to whom it would be safe to vocalize these feelings.
Though the causes may differ, what all these women have in common is their pain around mothers and motherhood.
As with any other hangover, there are things that help it along, like water and easy-to-digest food or taking a nap. For the mother’s day hangover, perhaps treat yourself to some quiet, recuperative time. Indulge in a face mask and hair treatment. Take a nice warm bath. Be gentle with yourself about your feelings; acknowledge them without judgment. Talk with a confidante about your frustrations as a mom, with your mom, or with attempting to become a mother.
Sometimes the best way to get out of a sad mood is to help another. Imagine the sorrow of the divorced mother whose ex-husband kept the children with him and their new step-mom during the Mother’s Day holiday. Maybe suggest a walk or bike ride together in a beautiful park. Support a friend who you know struggles with her complicated relationship with her mother….or one whose mother has died.
Whether you were or weren’t treated with a bouquet of roses or breakfast in bed, your joy or pain is valid, your story is important and it matters.