If Mother’s Day is hard for you, and you don’t feel like celebrating, please know that you are not alone.
Whether you didn’t have a good relationship with your mother, didn’t have a mother, couldn’t be a mother, have the challenges of being a step-mother, or are grieving the loss of your mother or your child, it can be a complicated day.
Even the women who seem to “have it all” can find Mother’s Day difficult. Parenting is challenging and I so often hear my clients saying they don’t feel like they’re “good enough” mothers. They talk about all the times they lost their cool, or got too tired or busy to to a “good enough” job of feeding their kids healthy food, or any of the other zillion things they feel they should be able to juggle perfectly.
I cover quite a few of these territories myself: I wasn’t emotionally close to my mother who had chronic depression and who died some years ago, I couldn’t become pregnant with my partner, and while I have step-children who I love to pieces, I was so young when I cared for them that I never felt capable (if I could just go back and have another go!), and they already have a mother…so I can understand some of the mixed feelings that Mother’s Day brings up.
There can also be a lot of judgement around mothering. If you have kids, you’ll get advice about how you should be parenting them. If you are infertile, you’ll get advice about what you should be doing. If you choose not to have kids, you can be judged in all kinds of crazy ways.
Raise your hand if you also dread the commonplace question, “So how many kids do you have?”. I often don’t even know how to begin answering that one, it’s so complicated for me, and I know I’m not alone there.
I’m lucky to be in Leonie Dawson’s amazing online Mastermind group which is full of interesting, creative, curious women. One day someone asked how many in the group had challenging relationships with their mothers and I was amazed at how many put their hand up. Maybe it’s something many women entrepreneurs in the creative or healing industries have in common. Maybe the challenges of those relationships foster a resourceful and independent streak.
After my mother died, I remember a friend I went to school with saying she couldn’t imagine not having her mother around to call if she was having a problem or a bad day. I was totally dumbfounded. I’m very lucky to have some wonderful friends to call on, but I only need to call on them if I’ve exhausted all the ways I have to nurture and help myself. I suddenly realised this self-sufficiency was an asset that had been really useful in seeing me through some hard times.
If you find Mother’s Day hard, I would not presume to tell you what to do, or give you advice (because many of us get more than enough well-meaning advice already). I do believe though, that you have the right to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, even if that means switching off the phone and just doing your own thing.
So if Mother’s Day is hard, here is a little list of some things and ideas that have helped me on Mother’s Day over the years, through infertility, through missing my step-kids while they celebrated with their mother, and through grief and loss. If any of these appeal, then I hope they’ll be useful for you too.
- Switching off the phone and having a day away from social media
- Going for a forest/beach/mountain walk, if you’re lucky enough to live near any of those things
- Doing some Restorative Yoga. Here’s an easy and very relaxing Restorative Pose that always makes me feel calm and grounded, if you’d like to try something nurturing: Viparita Karani
- Gratitude or compassion meditations can be wonderful when reflecting on difficult relationships, if you feel ready. Here’s a free one for you based on what I’ve practiced myself, and found useful: The Gratitude Meditation
- Treating yourself to a nurturing deep relaxation…here’s a free Yoga Nidra relaxation recording for you: Basic Yoga Nidra Deep Relaxation
- Reflecting on anyone in your life who has been like a mother to you, or cared for you or helped you…maybe even writing them a “thank you” letter
- Reflecting on all the ways you “mother” and nurture others, even if you don’t have children – your friends, your clients or customers, other family members of any kind. Journalling can be surprisingly helpful in prompting our awareness of qualities and skills we often overlook in ourselves.
- Donating or contributing to mothers who are suffering: for example, the UN Refugee agency has a Safe Mother and Baby Program you can donate to.
- Mothering yourself by making and eating a treat; some nourishing luxurious soul food. As a sweet tooth, something sweet and nurtitious at the same time makes me feel better, such as a raw treat. Click here and enter your email of you’d like to be emailed one of my favourite recipes, a delicious & healthy raw caramel slice
While Mother’s Day can be complicated and emotionally hard for some of us, this in no way means I don’t believe it should be celebrated. I know many people feel it’s overly commercial, but I think any excuse to tell someone you love them and appreciate them is a good one! I have friends who are single mums doing it all on their own who I think are absolute heroic legends and should be celebrated, applauded, given medals and ideally, a weekend retreat at a luxurious spa resort (You know who you are and I’d send you myself if I could!).
So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you dear ones doing the hardest job in the world, day in, day out. You deserve to celebrate and have the best day ever.
Meanwhile, I’ll be happily planting seedlings in my vegetable garden, or upside down on my Yoga bolster with the headphones on, or walking a forest trail with Bonnie Dog, all with my phone turned down and left behind…so I’ll meet you on the other side 🙂
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