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Mother Day Blues

May 12, 2018 at 7:54 pm · · Comments Off on Mother Day Blues

Mother Day Blues

Dr. K.P. Lanthier, C.Psych.

Happy Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world.  It was first deemed an official holiday in 1914 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. This is a time to express our love and appreciation for the person that brought us into this world.  The word mother ought to conjure up images of hugs and kisses of our boo boos, or a memory of the aroma of a hot meal being prepared or of loving hands mending our clothing.  Yet, many people did not have these experiences growing up as children. Mother’s Day reminds them of what they never had, or what they would like to have.

Hearing such benign words such as “Happy Mother’s Day” can feel like a stabbing in the heart.  Many women avoid going out to public places on this Sunday to avoid the Happy Mother’s Day greeting.  Shopping the week prior to Mother’s Day can trigger bouts of sadness as the reminders of the celebration is in every step you take.  As I walked through town the Wednesday before Mother’s Day, retail outlets were stuffed with gifts for mother’s.  One would have to live on another planet not to know that Mother’s Day is approaching.  The radio broadcast, the television commercials, the news reports and television talk shows all offer their suggestions for Mother’s Day.  Wednesday was filled with person’s running around stressed, not relaxed, and certainly not happy.  The atmospheric pressure was high, and near strangers could be heard asking for suggestions of what to get their mother for Mother’s Day.  A sister was shopping on behalf of her brother to purchase the perfect gift for his wife as a first-time mom. Yes, Mother’s Day is stressful for non-mother’s and mother’s alike.  Relief and balance is restored on the Monday following the Sunday, finally when the dreaded day has passed.

Additionally, even women that choose to not become a mother can experience mild grief on this holiday event. The greeting of “Happy Mothers Day” can feel hurtful than cheerful.  It might bring up feelings of being a failure, being punished or unworthy as a woman.  These feelings are very strong for women that have difficulty conceiving. One thing that remains true is we all have DNA from a “mother,” despite ever knowing a mom, their possible absence or neglectful ways.  Therefore, Mother’s Day might be a painful reminder of the unsatisfying relationship you have with your mother.

With optimism, we hold onto mom as a happy reservoir of the joys of our childhood, the constant unyielding support that will guide us through the myriad of ups and downs that we face in the outside world.  By contrast, for some people, this is a day of mourning.  It is a mourning the mother you needed, wanted and deserved.

Women that suffer infertility, miscarriages, or child deaths may reject the commercialism of Mother’s Day.  For their emotions are not captured in the Hallmark greeting card or the Kay Jewellery commercials.  They must witness the joyful interactions of happy family’s playing together or those who have lost their mother’s must listen to friends plan gatherings to share with their mothers.  These are the dreaded seconds, minutes, hours, or days that can bring on the Mother Day blues.

Let’s acknowledge those mother’s that have mothered but now are motherless, acknowledge her motherhood, as well as her pain.  For that can be the greatest gift for a bereaved mother on Mother’s Day, the recognition of her motherhood, the validation that is often missed.  Friends and family can ease a grieving mother’s pain by a visit to her child’s gravesite, leave a memento and let her know.  Use the child’s name in conversation of a happy moment that you recall.  Don’t worry about opening a wound, their loved one is never far from their thoughts.  This will show the bereaved parent that their child is remembered by others. A story or just wishing the mother a peaceful day could relieve some of her tension. Birth mothers whose children may be placed in adoptive homes often experience a silent and isolating Mothers Day.  Show your acknowledgement of their motherhood with a call or text stating “I am thinking of you today.”

I myself have been guilty of not acknowledging my brother-in-law’s loss of his mother. As I reflect, it never really occurred to me that this could be an especially difficult day for him year after year.  My brother-in-law is in constant mourning, which undoubtedly is evermore heightened on Mother’s Day with the constant bombardment of mother anecdotes and media sentimentalities. Mother’s Day serves as a poignant reminder of what he’s lost.  Additionally, I have been remiss in observing my mother being motherless on Mother’s Day.  I honor her as my mother but am guilty of ignoring her mother day loss, as if her mother never existed on this day.  Well that’s about to change!

For childless mothers and motherless children honoring the spirit of their perished can be a soothing endeavor.  Begin with creating a new tradition, perhaps make a candle, wear a huge brim hat, donate to a charity in their name, plant a tree, wear a white carnation, create artwork, create a scrap book.  You might read her favourite author, watch her fondest movie or throw a themed luncheon with her favorite sound track.  For gone children, name a star after your child, cook a favourite meal, release a balloon with notes to him or her on the balloon or perhaps insert a note inside a bottle or balloon and let it drift out to sea or float high into the sky.

Lastly, if you anticipate Mother’s Day to be difficult because you desire to become one or have suffered losses, plan to honor and safe guard your memories or dreams;  Remember your own self-care by having a massage, enjoying solitude, journaling, have a spa day, walk in nature or climb a big hill, reach the top and scream out loud into the vast space.

Happy Mother’s Day to those so fortunate to have been and to those that are-

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