May 10

The Complicated Mother’s Day

This week many of us have been barraged by memes on Facebook of how wonderful mothers are and how wonderful it is to be a mother. The reality for some of us is that the word “mother” has a whole lotta baggage. Not everyone in my mother’s generation became a mother by choice. While I love being a mom, not everyone embraces that role and it’s not for everyone. There’s a silence in social media among those of us with complicated or even painful relationships with our moms.  I have on several occasions shared my condolences with friends upon hearing that their mothers had died. “Actually I’m afraid to admit it but it’s a relief,” one friend told me. “For whatever reason our relationship was just never a happy one.” A man once told me that his mother’s chronic alcoholism exhausted him and he felt a great deal of shame over her actions. His friends talked about their mom’s with Norman Rockwell-like descriptions and he didn’t have the words to explain his reality. It’s a great loss to see the deep and abiding connections some have with their moms and know that will never be an option for a variety of reasons.

Similarly I remember the 15 or so Mother’s Days I sat out wondering if the stars would ever align for me to become a mother. When you’re single and 34 and doing the math, Mother’s Day is painfully long. For friends who had just had a miscarriage, Mother’s Day can’t end soon enough. For those who long to be mothers and are still waiting, Mother’s Day is a reminder that tick, tick, tick; it still hasn’t happened.

For some Mother’s Day can feel like a lot of pressure to feel happy over a situation that will never be happy or at least isn’t at the moment. So for all of you for whom Mother’s Day is a bittersweet holiday, I wish we could all get together for coffee after the brunch crowds have cleared out and without having to go into details share the weight of the day with each other. Enjoy your mimosas with your mothers and children but say a prayer for those for whom this day has more sadness than joy.