3 tips for when Mother’s Day is painful
By Liz Hart MA
Mother’s Day celebrates the loving mother ideal, who gives herself fully to her children, and looks after their families with unconditional love. We expect mothers to offer a constant emotional presence in our lives, available and reliable no matter what, even as adults of mature years!
This idealized expectation places mothers on a pedestal that discourages criticism and ignores that mothers are all human with strengths and weaknesses. Most of us find it difficult to acknowledge the less than perfect reality of mothers who did not conform to this saintly maternal archetype.
Some mother’s ‘failings’ are normal – they got tired, grumpy, bossy or distracted and were not always emotionally available when we needed support of one kind or another. As we mature, we can come to appreciate our mother’s efforts in the face of her life challenges and recognise her as a real person rather than the archetypal ideal.
What can we do to deal with our pain on Mother’s Day?
1. Be true to yourself
Allow yourself to acknowledge your mother’s challenges, choices and efforts, successes and failures, and their impact good or bad on you. It’s okay to feel and express it wasn’t perfect, and you felt let down at times. Seek to understand the context of your mother’s parenting and recognise the vulnerable position of trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal.
2. Maintain good boundaries
Chose for yourself if or how you wish to acknowledge Mother’s Day. It’s not up to Hallmark or social media to dictate what’s the right way for you and your mother. Do only what feels right for you, with what kindness and compassion you can muster.
3. Be kind to yourself
Plan to take care of yourself on this day by doing things that make you feel loved and cared for by yourself. We may not be able to have the ideal mother in reality (does anyone except in the movies?!?), but we can mother our inner child in the ways only we know we need.
For others Mother’s Day can trigger the deeper grief from the loss of our mother, abuse, abandonment or just the experience that our mother failed to protect, provide or care for us in some important ways. These experiences can leave a deep imprint on our hearts, minds and bodies, and impact on our ability to parent our own children.
If you find yourself being strongly triggered, or your mother relationship is impacting on your ability to parent well, then the above steps are even more important on Mother’s Day. Consider what you might need to do to free yourself from these triggers and help you be the parent you want to be for your children. Reach out for the support you need to do that and make a commitment to providing some healthy mothering for yourself. You do deserve it.
Liz Hart MA is a Master Trainer in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and helps people transcend their traumas, phobias and limiting beliefs. If you need help, arrange to see her by calling (09) 488 0208