When Mother's Day is Hard

For many of us, Mother’s Day comes with a lot more than a pleasant brunch and a bouquet of flowers.

Perhaps you still have questions, or lingering unresolved irritation that bubbles out unexpectedly, and you find yourself lashing out at your mom like a teen—surprising both your 45-year-old self and your 73-year-old mother.

Or maybe your mom has passed, and amidst the mourning and grief lie questions that can only be answered by her, or guilt over apologies you now feel you owed her, but were never spoken. 

As much as we love our parents and for the most part understand they did their best, sometimes there’s still a lot below the surface that remains unresolved. 

If your chest gets a little tight as Mother’s Day approaches and you feel those emotions start to arise, you’re not alone. Here’s how to show both your mother—and yourself—a little kindness this Mother’s Day.

It’s Complicated

It’s interesting when we consider the lives our great grandparents lived, and how much has changed since then. It’s safe to say that your parents tried their best to give you the life they wish they had, and not let any of the generational trauma they suffered carry through. But… nobody is perfect. 

There are probably things you needed and craved from your mother that you never received, things your parents may have been unaware of and you were far too young to articulate. It’s virtually impossible for our parents not to unintentionally hurt us in some way, whether we (or they) remember or not. 

Parents are Just People

For some reason, it’s harder to grant our own parents the reprieve or grace we may show a stranger. Just like our parents may have held us to a particular standard, many children do the same. 

What may have felt like not being good enough for our mother may have actually been a mother suffering from mental illness, or trauma of her own. 

Of course, that doesn’t excuse any abuse or neglect, but it does help explain it. Many of us were not loved or cared for in the way we needed, simply because our parents may have not understood how, or perhaps they showed love in other ways. 

Parents are just people, doing the best they can.Parents are just people, doing the best they can. Out there, living life, making mistakes with the rest of them. 

Connect in the Ways That You Can

If you and your mom aren’t close, there’s probably a list of topics and activities you can connect over. 

Same goes for if there are things you staunchly disagree about, steer clear of those and stick to the neutral, safer topics. 

Honor Your Mother in Ways That You Can

If you have a really challenging relationship with your mom, it’s still possible to feel warmth towards the ways that she tried. 

Be kind to yourself as well. You are not your mother. She is a separate being, and if you felt embarrassed by her, or like you needed to protect her in some way, understand that that’s not or was never your role. 

If You Feel Triggered

For some people, being around a parent can be extremely triggering. If you’re prone to this, do your best to remain present with yourself during the interaction. Take a few breaths before reacting. Remind yourself you’re safe. If you can only handle your parent in small doses, that’s totally fine. 

Don’t feel bad about your boundaries.

Some people may have extremely complicated feelings toward their parents, and if that’s you, it might be something to consider exploring with a therapist. If you live in Northern California, we’d love to hear from you. We have two convenient locations and offer therapy in Roseville and Fair Oaks. Call or text us anytime to discover how we can help.

Mother Yourself

Find out how therapy can help.If Mother’s Day feels hard, it’s okay to be there for yourself in the way you need. Don’t try to force yourself to feel a certain way, meet yourself where you are. Pack a hefty dose of self-compassion, and remember: You’re here now. You’re an adult, and can show yourself the love and kindness or whatever it was that was inconsistent or missing during your childhood. And if you’re celebrating with your mother, she may be needing a little of that too. 

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