Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and this blog is for all you Moms (or Grandmothers) whose children struggle in one way or another.
For you, Mother’s Day—and that includes the weeks of buildup by advertisers, media, and our culture in general—might be bittersweet. Or even painful. It might even, as it did for me one memorable year, cause you to break down in a horrific crying spell, complete with gulping, heaving sobs and half a box of gross, wet, crumpled Kleenex strewn around the floor.
Lest you think this blog is all gloom and doom, please read on.
Because a bittersweet or painful Mother’s Day is not often acknowledged, I am here to talk about it. If I can help to shift your perspective and ease your pain, even a little, it is worth it.
Here’s the romanticized concept of Mother’s Day
Your family celebrates and acknowledges you for your selfless giving and hard work. You enjoy breakfast in bed and receive handcrafted cards, made with crayons and glue and signed in a child’s scrawl. The family offers flowers, time off to do whatever you want with Your Day, and a nice family dinner that may include extended relatives.
You and your family are encouraged to reflect upon and celebrate motherhood. And that is exactly why it can be so painful.
Because what happens if the chasm between your expectations about motherhood versus your reality are as wide as the Grand Canyon?
What happens when you give and give of yourself all year long, and your child or children—because of conditions outside their control, at least for now and maybe forever—are incapable of acknowledging it? They can’t or won’t reciprocate, not even a little, not even on the day when it seems every other mother is celebrated.
Acknowledgment on one little day isn’t asking too much
Is it?! But it’s not going to happen in the way you desire. Mother’s Day becomes a stark reminder that your child or children may not acknowledge you—on this or any other day of the year.
It can be painful.
So what’s a loving, caring, giving mother to do? You can hide and try to pretend the day doesn’t exist, but you won’t escape. Reminders are everywhere.
And for your own sake, under the guise of being stoic, please please don’t stuff sad or angry feelings deep inside and pretend they don’t exist! Stuffed feelings inevitably emerge and make themselves known in the form of emotional and/or physical health issues.
Instead, I invite you to fully accept that the child from whom you yearn to receive recognition and honor is simply not capable of giving it. And then, honor yourself with the recognition, kudos, and compliments you yearn for. Do this for yourself.
Why? Because you are living the classic heroine’s journey
If you’ve never thought of yourself as a heroine, I invite you to begin. Your life story could be written as a best-seller and turned into a successful movie, just as surely as any other tale.
With a nod to the brilliant scholar Joseph Campbell… you have ventured from the ordinary world into an adventure, perhaps one that you resisted at first but nonetheless embarked upon. Along the way, you met allies who aided you and villains who opposed you. You have survived tests and ordeals. Your world is forever changed; there is no return to the old way.
Like all heroines, you have moments or days or weeks when you doubt your abilities. You fear you are not up to the challenge before you, and suspect that this call was meant for someone else. But you were indeed chosen, and you will triumph in the end. Because that’s what heroines do.
You will find the proverbial elixir
And just what exactly is that elixir for you, you might ask? While the specifics will vary, it ultimately means the ability to live with inner peace and joy. No matter what the circumstances outside you, you will give to yourself what others cannot. It may take some time, but your success is assured.
The heroes from Lord of the Rings and the original Star Wars trilogy have nothing on you, baby!
You are a heroine, even if you don’t see it yet
A friend recently told me that on Mother’s Day, she honors her own sister and two friends whose (now adult) children have severe mental health issues. This “outsider” clearly recognizes that it takes great strength, and a huge heart, to nurture—with enduring love—such children.
It’s true. You are doing an incredible job despite tremendous odds. Accept it from me and from those around you who can recognize it too.
You were meant for this. You can and will persevere. Remind yourself of all that you are, and all that you do, not just on Mother’s Day but every day. YOU are a heroine!