Early in May, there always seems to be this frenzy, as people emerge from their winter hibernation, only to realize that Mother’s Day is this weekend. No matter how hard we try to be prepared with a thoughtful gift or meaningful card, sometimes we really are rushing through the line at the local Walgreens, literally on our way to Mother’s Day lunch. Somehow, we’ve missed the zillions of end-cap displays on the perfect gifts for mom; all the tv commercials, TikTok ads, and absent-mindedly silenced smartphone calendar alerts. Sometimes, when you feel secure in what you have, it’s easy to take it for granted; to not have it cross your mind emphatically until a few days before.
Mother’s Day Isn’t The Same for All
For others, the gravity of a day like Mother’s Day begins knocking at the door – a most unwanted guest – well before the first of May. For those of us who have experienced loss, estrangement, infertility, and a whole host of other circumstances, Mother’s Day is so much more than a last minute dash to buy a gift. It’s a month-long commitment to look anywhere but there when this year’s line of Mother’s Day cards and gifts hit the shelves at TJ Maxx. It’s an intentional choice to stay home all day, far-far-away from all the restaurants and parks hosting Mother’s Day specials all weekend long; unable to bear seeing so many happy mothers and children together.
Mother’s Day is blocking any word remotely related to “mom” from your Twitter feed so that you can at least doom-scroll without being unnecessarily triggered. It’s blinking the tears away from your eyes as you watch a little boy at church proudly escort his mom inside for a day of mom-honoring; it’s watching a 39 year old woman take her mama out for brunch and mimosas, when all you want is your own mama. It’s pep-talking yourself in the mirror as you try once again to reach out to your mom who doesn’t want to be in community with you anymore. It’s seeing your neighbor gleefully cradle her newborn baby, while you’re mourning yet another negative pregnancy test.
Mother’s Day Is Tough.
Mother’s Day is tough; it’s complex, and incredibly nuanced for the many, many people on this planet who have a mother, were a mother, couldn’t be a mother, lost a mother, or never had one. Amidst all the floral displays, overproduced videos, and overpriced gifts, we would all do well to step outside of ourselves for a moment, long enough to sit in empathy with the many people in our lives who experience this day differently. There’s not an exhaustive list of ways we can support those for whom this time of year is difficult; there’s no one size fits all model that we can adapt for our purposes here.
What we can do is be approachable. We can ask our loved ones how they’re feeling. We can ask how can I show up for you? We can send them a Starbucks gift card, or we can bake some cookies and bring them by. We can buy people flowers for any old reason. We can provide snacks, shoulders to cry on, jokes to laugh at, and mutual silence to rest within. We can respect the boundary of desired privacy while grieving. We can show up for those around us who are struggling to make it through this week; this time of year.
It is highly likely that we all know at least one individual for whom May 8th is going to be a proverbial torment. These people aren’t abstract. They are your siblings, your friends, your own parents, your children. If we can practice empathy, patience, and compassion here, what a difference we can make in the lives of those around us – simply by reminding them that we haven’t forgotten them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and learn about what support needs might look like for your person.
We Hold Space for You.
Another Mother’s Day is swiftly approaching. Let’s make it our practice to hold space for the people in our lives who struggle with this day. . We hold space for Kelvin, whose mom died from cancer when he was only 23; we hold space for Caroline, who cared for elderly mother for years, fighting many daily battles, and always neglecting herself in the process. We hold space for Taylor, a nonbinary individual who was cast out by their mother when they came out. We hold space for Antoinette who received another negative pregnancy test; for Ben who is explaining to his young child why mommy isn’t here for Mother’s Day anymore; for Lauren, whose son is with his dad and that side of the family this weekend; for Marcus, who is a single father. We hold space for Lin whose child died; for Tiana who cares for her terminally ill child. And, we hold space for you.
No matter what this weekend looks like for you, please know that you are seen, you are loved, and you deserve to see yourself represented in conversations about this day. Commercialism makes days like this seem so perfect, but only if you have the perfect life, and the reality is that none of us come from a totally perfect life. As we plow ahead across our imperfect lives – lives so often tattered by suffering and sorrow – may we remember to find each other there among the nuances; amidst the challenges; in the weeds of grief, of melancholy, of joy, and all things in between.
If you are finding this Mother’s Day to be especially hard for any reason, schedule an appointmentk and let’s talk about it.