Mother’s Day: a day to celebrate your mom, to acknowledge all she’s done for you and how much she has sacrificed in the name of motherhood. If you are a mother, as soon as May hits, you anxiously await the day and anticipate receiving flowers, being taken out to dinner, and even receiving a gift. I’ve been a mother for almost 29 years of my life — and, of course, I’ve been celebrating my own mother for the last 47 years.
This year, something happened on Mother’s Day. I became so much more aware. I began to observe the Mother’s Day wishes coming via Facebook, text, and even email, and I could see the pain of many women — women who have not experienced giving birth because they physically can’t, women who have lost numerous children through miscarriages, women who have had children but haven’t been able to raise those children. The pain was more and more evident as I stopped to read various posts. What became even more clear were the many adults who had no mother to go and celebrate with because of unpleasant childhoods.
It made me stop and think, as I was looking forward to celebrating the day, about how painful Mother’s Day can be for some. It also made me think about motherhood itself and how we define motherhood. I mean, let’s be brutally honest: Not everyone had a great mom and not everyone has had the traditional role of a mother. Does a woman who gave up her children stop being a mother? Does a woman who has lost her children because of miscarriages not deserve the title of being a mother?
There is yet another layer that many don’t stop to think about: What about a mother whose children don’t celebrate her even though she has been a wonderful mother? That woman experiences just as much pain as those who haven’t had children. I don’t know which is worse — having children who don’t appreciate you, not having children, or having a mother who wasn’t the greatest. Regardless of the situation, each comes with its own pain, haunting memories, and uncelebrated moments.
I’m sure many are wondering why would I wish them all a happy Mother’s Day if they don’t fall under the traditional definition of motherhood. It’s for that very reason that we should send our wishes. Motherhood has changed. Many factors have changed in our society, so why can’t we begin to celebrate holidays in a new form, and begin to redefine who and what we are celebrating? This is part of radical self-love — to recognize that no matter what the situation may be, all deserve love and all deserve to be celebrated. Each situation is unique; therefore, each one deserves its own special attention and its own radical love.
This year, I sent my Mother’s Day wishes to a variety of people, because motherhood is not only about the person who gives birth, but also about the person who nurtures. They included a single dad who is raising a daughter on his own; a woman who gave birth to children she doesn’t physically have but carries in the depths of her soul; a woman who has miscarried numerous times but has mentored many; a woman who has mentored hundreds of youth who call her mom; aunts and grandmothers who have the role of mom and granny; and sisters who have raised siblings. And the list kept on.
Now to the mothers whose children are adults but don’t celebrate you, I’m sure it’s not easy for you as well. I’m sure hundreds of questions go through your mind over and over again, but you can never find the right answer. You question whether you were a good enough mother. You question whether you’ve made the right choices. You second-guess every decision you have made. You begin to replay scenarios of when your kids were kids and how you handled them — only to doubt that what you did was enough.
Whatever the scenario, you have to practice radical self-love. Being hard on yourself and questioning all you did will only make you feel unworthy and unloved. YOU DID ALL YOU COULD DO! You can’t control how your children show up, but you can control how you handle Mother’s Day. If you sit around waiting to be appreciated, to be recognized, or to receive that Mother’s Day rose, you just might be setting yourself up for disappointment, year after year. Go celebrate yourself! Buy yourself that rose you have been waiting on. Give yourself a gift. There is no reason why you shouldn’t.
To those who look from the outside in, there will always be an opinion, whether good or bad. Someone will always have something to say. Sometimes, even if you were the perfect mother, your offspring will never totally see how wonderful you were, and those you didn’t give birth to will always see how wonderful you were. To the adults who had to endure painful childhoods, you too should practice radical self-love for yourself. Yes, it’s painful to have so many around you celebrating when all you can remember is pain. However, you are the author of the memories that you can continue to create. Focus on yourself, because at the end of the day, it’s all about perspective. You might have been raised by someone who wasn’t your biological mom. Celebrate that person because, as I mentioned before, a mother is not just one who births but one who nurtures.
Mother’s Day can be a time of celebration, but it can also be a time of sadness. No matter what your situation, begin to love yourself and practice self-care. You are worthy of love. What better love than the love you have for yourself? No one can love you more than you can love yourself. Be gentle with yourself and look deep within yourself for that love you so desire. Change your perspective on Mother’s Day and look for the positive within it. If you search hard enough, you just might see that you aren’t the only one who struggles with Mother’s Day Blues.[Headline image: The black-and-white photograph features a person looking down, as if to contemplate something sad.]