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Mother’s Day is complicated. But it’s worth celebrating.

Mother's Day triggers complicated emotions for many of us. This is why I started celebrating it in a different way.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
May 6, 2022
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5 min
Minute Read

Several years ago I changed what I celebrate on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday. As a pediatrician and mother, I know this well. It’s complicated for mothers and it’s complicated for mothers-to-be or those who know they will never be a mother. It’s complicated for those who have difficult relationships with their mothers or who are estranged from them.

It’s often the holidays that are meant to be the most celebratory that point out what we don’t have to celebrate, and Mother’s Day might be the most painful of all.

One in five women in America struggles with infertility. This statistic may surprise you, or it may not. Many of you have struggled with this yourself. If you haven’t, you certainly know someone who has. Mother’s Day often feels like a reminder of this, this lack and this desire.

If you are a mother, I know for me, Mother’s Day tends to be a time I reflect on everything I’ve done wrong. I feel I don’t deserve the praise as all of my past mothering mistakes show up to haunt me.

Then, there are the expectations that come with the holiday that can easily sabotage a mother’s ability to truly enjoy and celebrate it. I hope that my adult children will write me long letters telling me how happy they are with me and what an amazing job I did raising them. 

When they were young, I hoped that my husband would prompt the kids to let me know how special I was to them. In reality, sometimes he even forgot it was Mother’s Day. So when flowers didn’t come or beautifully hand written notes or pictures didn’t appear, I did what most mothers do: I felt like a failure.

Then there are the feelings of missing a mother who’s passed away. I lost my mother ten years ago and she was my best friend. I loved having Mother’s Day with her and if truth be told, I’m sure there were a lot of Mother’s Days that I disappointed her. I never meant to. I adored my mother; I was simply preoccupied with my own life. Now, what I wouldn’t give to have her back for just one more day.

Mother’s Day causes us to miss our mothers, to grieve an estranged relationship with them, to grieve our inability to have children, and to wish our kids and partners were more attentive to us. Because of the complexity of feelings that Mother’s Day causes, I’ve decided to celebrate one simple thing on this holiday: the nurturing heart of a mother that’s in all of us.

You, friend, have every reason to celebrate Mother’s Day because you are a person born with the desire and ability to nurture the souls of others. To have their back, to cook for them, listen to their heartache and offer a prayer or two or twenty. Every woman mothers because the desire to encourage, nurture and love sits at the core of who we are as women. There are children or child-like souls everywhere we turn who need us and what we have to give them.

So, no matter what losses you think of this Mother’s Day, remember that you and I have been given an extraordinary opportunity and gift by God to love and care for people. And when we use that gift, we experience unmatched joy.

To each of you mothering souls, I say, happy Mother’s Day!

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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