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Mother’s Day can be a joyful and fun occasion, but for some of us it tends to be more poignant, stressful or sad. The run up to Mothering Sunday is filled with advertising and images showing happy families celebrating together, but that won’t reflect everybody’s feelings about the day, or the experience they’re likely to have.
For people who’ve 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. It can be difficult for mums too, if they’ve lost or been estranged from a child, or if their kids have moved away. The day can also be painful for anyone who wanted to become a mother, but who hasn’t been able to.
We don’t often see experiences like these portrayed in the media, 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? Tense? Ambivalent? Think about what will make you feel happier, calmer and more secure, and plan ahead to make sure the day includes experiences and people who will help with this. Tune into what you need to do, rather than what others may want and expect from you.
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.
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, plan a bit of escapism. 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 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 will be spending Mother’s Day with family, try not to feel under pressure to make it ‘perfect’. Families can be messy, and sometimes relationships with those close to us are strained. When expectations are high, especially if it’s your job to organise gifts or a celebratory lunch for example, this can lead to increased tension and anxiety – so try to relax and go with the flow.
If you’re feeling really low, stressed or anxious at the moment, CBT can provide effective strategies for managing the difficulties you’re experiencing, by helping you to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Find out more about what’s involved in CBT, and find out if you’re eligible.
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