When Mothers Day is Hard: 11 Insights to Help You Feel Less Crazy.
Mothers Day can be shitty. I mean, it’s a day where we as moms are supposed to be put on pedestals and celebrated for our awesomeness. Which sounds wonderful, if a) we feel like we’re awesome, and b) we appreciate being put on a pedestal.
Mostly, I don’t resonate with either option. But there is also the reality of my less-than-idyllic relationship with my own mother — a fact that has left me feeling like a boat without oars on the rocky seas of motherhood more times than I care to admit.
Mothers Day simultaneously reminds me of everything I longed for and everything I struggle to provide for my own kids.
While I often feel kinda crazy, I know for a fact I am not alone.
Now, half a century old and sixteen years as a mother, I’m ready to share some of the insights I’ve gathered along the way that keep me grounded and feeling relatively sane.
I sincerely hope they help lighten your load, too.
11 helpful insights for mothers on Mothers Day (and every day):
1. Moms are not perfect
We are all human beings living a very human life.
Indeed, we are all coping with our past while trying to live in the present to create a better future. Most of us don’t come equipped for this challenge. So we mess up. A lot.
The moms who look like they have it all together, don’t. (Trust me).
2. Life can look rosy from the outside, but on the inside you can still feel grey.
It’s important to validate how you are really feeling so you don’t keep repeating the patterns you so badly want to avoid. Ignoring how you feel just keeps you stuck in a cycle of pretending, which sucks up precious energy that could be used elsewhere.
Like in therapy, for example. Or figuring out how to parent differently.
3. You can grieve the loss of something you never had.
In fact, it’s perfectly normal to feel sad about the relationship you wished you had with your own mother. (This was a truth it took me a long time to learn and accept). Estrangement and grief have complicated emotional cycles — become accepting of yours and allow yourself to feel in order to heal.
The reality is, unhealed relationships cause us to keep creating new wounds.
4. We all need more grace.
I know it’s not just just me: this whole perfectionism thing is a crap-fest. Trying to be all the things for all the people because we have a hole where feeling whole should be… doesn’t work.
Know what does work? Grace. Give yourself some. Or a lot.
If you’re doing something out of duty, from a sense of guilt or to avoid backlash, revisit the idea of healthy boundaries, while dishing yourself a healthy platter of grace.
5. Kids are the worst measure of our parenting.
We try to make our kids perfect so others can see what a great job we’re doing. It doesn’t work. Kids are terrible puppets, and even worse ambassadors. They have no filter. Usually, they are completely unaware of the burden of healing our hearts we might be placing on them. And they’re terrible at making a big deal out of random days like Mothers Day (unless it’s their own birthday, of course … little narcissists).
Hint: Stop looking at your kids for proof of your worth.
6. Our spouses are not mind readers.
It’s not our spouses fault we crave validation and have a boatload of mommy-issues. However, if there’s something special you’d like for Mothers Day (or any day) let them know — even if that ‘something’ is a low-key, fanfare-free day by the river with a picnic, or an adrenaline-fuelled jump out of a hot air balloon. How do you like to celebrate your awesomeness? How do you fill your emotional tank? If you don’t know, start journalling on that so you don’t make it your spouse’s job to figure it out — because they are also not proof of your worth (see point #5).
7. Our parents did the best they could (really).
The past might be best summarized by a shit-show-load-of-crap, but it was the best they could do at the time. Holding onto resentment or emptiness only hurts us and our children by keeping us stuck in a vicious cycle. As Elsa says: (But that doesn’t mean you’re available for more hurt… boundaries are key)
When we mess up (and we do), kids appreciate an apology. They’re little humans too. And as much as we would like them to think we’re perfect, they’re usually painfully aware when something isn’t right. A little apology works wonders for taking responsibility so they don’t have to.
9. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Unlike the book of the same title, it’s NOT all small stuff. But a lot of it is. Worrying about our kids choice of hairstyle = small stuff. Worrying about if they’re becoming well-adjusted, grounded, happy little humans = Big Stuff. Pick your battles accordingly.
10. Nurture your dreams and your relationships.
We often spend so much of our energy focused on trying to fill the hole in our own heart, we can lose sight of being whole. Spend time nurturing your interests, dreams and your relationships — it’s important to know who you are (even if you find out you’re a crystal-loving, plant murdering, birthday-forgetting, lover-not-a-hater <oops>). You don’t have to choose between being a mom and being whole. The best kind are both (at least the ones I know).
11. Laugh. Often.
Last but not least, laughter is truly the best medicine. Life is tough. We have all lived through things that might have been enough to send someone else to the ‘funny farm.’ Laughter makes light of a heavy load. And I’m not sure of anything that fills my soul more than a good hearty laugh shared with my family. We’re all a little goofy. <Go figure>
These insights are at the front of my awareness because I struggle with each of them, frequently. With time and practice, they have become easier and more natural.
Around here, I’ve decided that Mothers Day is every day. Every day I get to celebrate the fact that I’m the mom to three amazing individuals who call me MOM. So I don’t really need one specific day to celebrate. But if one child happened to offer to comb my hair on Mothers Day, or picked up their clothes without being reminded, I wouldn’t argue… <hint hint>
Because it’s the little things that make me feel most loved, and remind me that love IS the little things.
Much love from this momma to you,
P.S. What insights would you add to this list? I’d love to know!
Originally published at https://www.tanyatinney.com on April 13, 2021.