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.