I suffered from a bit of the malaise I call Mother’s Day Melancholy. Sometimes, like this year, it is a little more pronounced than others.
I am one of those woman for whom Mother’s Day holds some sadness. I don’t fit nice and neatly into what has become a “Hallmark” holiday.
There are plenty of us for whom the day is a bit of a trigger. For some of us the day highlights:
…Our imperfect relationship with our own mothers, revealing just how fraught with frustration and maddening it is compared to the cozy relationships others have.
…The grief we still bear in those secret places in our hearts for our babies and children who have died, gone too soon, a tragedy hard to think about, let alone experience.
…Our deep desire to become a mother, thwarted by any number of factors: our own wombs, complications with our partner’s reproductive system, the high cost of technology, or even imperfections of medical science to provide a child.
…The fact we haven’t found the right partner yet to start a family and the clock keeps ticking.
…How alone we feel as single-mothers, bearing the effort of providing for our children, physically and emotionally, in what seems like a sea of healthy two-parent households.
…The fact we are now the next generation; our mothers have died and there will not be the beautiful picture of all three generations lined up smiling, familiar features revealed in the nose, the eyes, or the cheek bones.
I’m one of the lucky ones in the sense I was raised by a loving dedicated mother. I’ve never had to question her love or devotion to me as a child. It was because of who she is and how she showed up as a mother which had me wanting so desperately to become a mother in my own right.
I’m one of the lucky ones because my soon-to-be mother-in-law raised a fantastic son who loves and respects women and who is willing to show up as a full partner in our relationship.
Having my own child was not to be and therein lays a lingering sadness which comes to the surface more readily on Mother’s Day. This grief is not so fresh and raw anymore and over the course of nine years I’ve come to terms with the way things are in my life. And, it is a good life I’ve created for myself.
And I would be lying if I said all the pictures on Facebook of mothers with their adorable children didn’t sting just a little. My own babies would be eight years old.
When I feel Mother’s Day Melancholy setting in I take it as a sign to be a little more KIND and GENTLE with myself. I also recognize it is time to bring forward strategies I know work for me:
FOCUS on the GOOD: I was overcome by a wave of sadness while I was getting ready to go to brunch with my guy’s family, so I lay down on the bed for a few minutes and took a few moments to refocus my thoughts on all that is good and right with my world – a list which is actually quite long. For example, the tulips this year have been spectacular and pictures in this post are all from my very own garden. (It may not seem like much and sometimes it is everything.)
FOCUS OUTWARD: I reminded myself that I could still participate in Mother’s Day; I can celebrate my own mother and my soon-to-be mother-in-law. I can celebrate all the strong female influences in my life, women who helped shape me into the person I am today. I also remind myself there are plenty of women in the world who would be happy to live my life and would trade places with me in a second; it just doesn’t seem like it when I’m comparing myself and my life to the family-filled suburb in which I live.
SYMPATHETIC JOY: Sometimes I find this practice annoying because it eliminates the pity-party of comparison. When I feel the heat of envy rising, I know it is time to simply breathe and be with that feeling for a minute, and then let myself be happy for all the beautiful families around me. Their happiness doesn’t need to diminish me of my own joy – it doesn’t have to be an either or situation.
SEEK SUPPORT: At the end of the day I called a girlfriend whose wise, compassionate listening allows me to admit what is going on for me. Her kindness gave me the space to have a little cry which soothed the ache in my heart. What a gift to know a girlfriend with children is able to open her heart to my experience.
So, dear one, my heart goes out to you, if you too, experience melancholy moments within the festivities of Mother’s Day. Know you are not alone.
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