When Mother's Day is a difficult time
For lots of people, Mother’s Day is a time to remember and appreciate their mums, and thank them for everything they’ve done. But for some the day can be really difficult. In the run up to Mothering Sunday we’re all surrounded with images of perfect happy families, in shops, across the media, and on TV. The celebration doesn’t have positive connotations for everyone, however.
For people who have lost their mothers, or who don’t get on well with them, Mother’s Day can bring up a lot of emotions and perhaps re-open old wounds. A child who’s in care, or who lives with their dad and won’t see their mum on the day, will probably feel sad.
It can be tough for mums too, if they’ve lost or become estranged from a child, or even if their kids have grown up and moved away and can’t visit on Mothering Sunday. Women who’ve not been able to have children of their own can also find the day very painful.
The media obviously never shows experiences like these, which can make those of us who do struggle feel isolated and left out. If this is you, remember that you’re definitely not alone; there will be thousands of people feeling just the same as you on Mother’s Day, for whatever reason. If you know that a friend or family member is likely to find the day difficult, don’t let this stop you celebrating – but be mindful of how they might be feeling.
It can also help to remember that Mother’s Day is a Christian tradition which has been commercialised and promoted by retailers in order to sell more flowers, cards, chocolates and other stuff! In fact Anna Jarvis, who introduced the holiday to the US in 1908, hated the ‘hype’ so much that she spent years of her life trying to remove Mother’s Day from the calendar. This being the case, the day doesn’t actually need to mean anything at all – but if you can turn it into a positive experience, that’s even better.
So how can you get through Mother’s Day? First of all, don’t let your emotions take you by surprise. Anticipate in advance the feelings you might go through. Will you be sad? Angry? Ambivalent? Think about what will make you feel happier, calmer and more secure, and plan ahead to make sure the day includes the experiences and people who will help with this.
It might be that what’s best for you is to spend the day reflecting and remembering on your own, and that’s absolutely fine. If you want to cry and let out your feelings, or need to talk to someone about how you feel, allow yourself to do this: it’s OK not to be fine.
If that isn’t for you, this is one of the few times in life when avoidance is perfectly acceptable! If you’re dreading the day, or worried that you might feel upset or unsettled, prepare a bit of escapism from the celebrations. Organise a really nice treat for yourself, buy yourself a special gift, do something different or go somewhere you’ve never been before. You could also meet up with others you know who are in a similar position, and do something fun like going to the beach or for a long walk in the country.
If you’re feeling really low as Mother’s Day approaches, you could get support quickly by referring yourself for online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This can work well by helping you to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviours around the event. Find out more about what’s involved in CBT, and find out if you are eligible.