How Mother’s Day Makes Me Uncomfortable


I’ve rewritten this opening paragraph half a dozen times, each time feeling that I should start this post with a GIANT disclaimer.  I love my mom. I love my mother-in-law. I love being a mom.  I love the work that moms do, and I am a HUGE believer that their work and their position in raising kids should be wildly celebrated.  If you know me personally, you know these statements to be true.  If you don’t know me, well, ask people who do and they’ll back me up. : )

Nothing that I write in this post is meant in ANY way to take away from these firmly held opinions.  There is nothing more that I want to do than honor the moms in my life in ways that make them feel valued, supported, and loved.  Whether you’re the mom of my husband, my niece, or my kid’s bus driver, you have impacted my world for the better, and I love you for that.

Nothing can change my deep appreciation for moms.

All I want to do is to point out that Mother’s Day as a holiday can be strangely awkward and sad for so many people that much of the time, I wish everyone didn’t make such a fuss.

If your typical Mother’s Day has been filled with breakfast in bed, brunch at a favorite restaurant, and a beautifully written card, these thoughts might be tough to relate to.  However, if you step away from your family time and pay attention to others tomorrow, you might see a good bit of pain.

Mother’s Day makes me think about the people who had abusive or absent mothers or who don’t have relationships that they want to celebrate.  How do my single friends feel when others are being celebrated? I imagine the mothers who can’t be near their children and the ache they feel at the distance. I think of moms who have been forgotten by their grown children and how painful that must be. I have a few friends who lost their children prematurely,  and I wonder what Mother’s Day feels like to them.  I consider the moms who are in difficult marriages where the current days hold no “celebrations” and no real expressions of gratitude.

I remember the Mother’s Day after my grandmother died and how terribly difficult it was for my mom to be celebrated while she was mourning the loss of her mom.  On many subsequent Mother's Day Sundays, I recall my mom being brushed by shades of melancholy.   I wasn’t sure how to address the sadness, so we carried on with our traditions, and the day’s emotions eventually evened out.  Still, for years, the day felt as if we were all putting on a “stiff upper lip.”  I know many others who struggle in similar ways because of the loss of their mother.

I recall sitting in church on this occasion and being asked to stand while people clapped for all of the moms in the room.  The gesture was well intentioned and may not have struck anyone as cringe worthy, but I was sitting next to a friend who was battling infertility.  She didn’t stand when asked and I couldn’t look her in the face, but felt her fighting back tears.  I slid back into my seat a quickly as humanly possible.

Those examples are just the start of the awkwardness.


The expectations around this holiday can be easily inflated, only to cause suffering when they aren’t met.

I wish I had a blanket, step-by-step prescription for how to respond to those who might be feeling blue around Mother's day, but I don’t.

Tomorrow is a day when we should rightfully celebrate those women who cared for us and shaped our lives.  We need to relish our time together and show gratitude in ways that honor the gift of our moms.

However, my hope is that we remember to be especially kind to those who might be hurting. This week try to reach out to someone who might feel a bit melancholy after this holiday.  Take a few minutes to shoot them a message, place a call, or schedule some time together to remind them that they aren’t alone; they are loved; and they are celebrated no matter what.

I don't know about you, but caring for others is something that makes every mom proud; it is, after all, what good moms do best.

Happy Mother's Day.