Having been a psychologist for 3 decades, I have heard plenty of angst concerning Mother’s Day. Some of the stories were tragic. Some were just hilarious. At any rate, this “holiday” is loaded with high expectations and often disappoints us.
The following is a woefully incomplete list of reasons why Mother’s Day might suck for you, ranging from the profound to the lighthearted.
About your mother:
1) Your mother has died, and you spend the whole day sadly remembering her.
2) Your mother is alive, but she was abusive and neglectful. Your mother did not make you feel safe and loved as a child, and you spend the whole day feeling alternately cheated, angry, and guilty.
3) Your mother is alive, and you love her very much. But she lives far away, so you rarely see her.
4) Your mother is alive, but she has advanced dementia, and she no longer remembers you.
5) Your mother has rejected you, because of your religion, sexuality, gender identity, belief system, etc., and you no longer have a relationship with her.
6) Your mother is self-centered, and considers the day to be all about her, even though you have three small children and are still breast-feeding.
About being a mother:
7) You always wanted to be a mother, but you never found the right partner.
8) You always wanted to be a mother, but you were unable to get pregnant.
9) You always wanted to be a mother, you got pregnant, but you miscarried.
10) You always wanted to be a mother, you tried to adopt a baby, and the adoption fell through.
11) You always wanted to be a mother, you got pregnant, you had a child, but this child has died.
12) You always wanted to be a mother, you had your baby, and your child is terribly sick.
13) Your child has a serious mental illness.
14) Your child has serious behavioral problems.
15) Your child is addicted to alcohol or drugs.
16) Your child is a convicted criminal and in prison.
17) Your child is unloving and disinterested in you.
18) You live far away from your child and rarely see him or her.
19) Your child is serving in the armed forces, so not only won’t you see him, you will worry, like you do every day, if he or she is safe and OK.
20) You are estranged from your child, and your child wants nothing to do with you.
21) You don’t know where your child is.
Let’s say none of those sad circumstances apply to you: you are actually a happy mother in a good relationship with your child. This still doesn’t mean you will have a good Mother’s Day! Possibly:
22) You are extremely, massively, and profoundly tired.
23) Your children forgot it was Mother’s Day.
24) Your husband/partner forgot it was Mother’s Day and there is nothing for dinner.
25) You spend the day driving to see your mother, grandmother (etc.) and make them happy instead of doing what you would like to do, which probably involves more sleeping.
26) Your family doesn’t have the money to celebrate Mother’s Day.
27) Your family does make Mother’s Day plans, but the plans are disappointing and more about their needs than yours (You would have liked to go to a museum for the day, but your family enthusiastically took you bowling).
28) Your children fought with each other all day.
29) You and your partner fought with each other all day.
30) No one even got you a card.
31) Every one of your friends posts something excellent about their Mother’s Day (We went to New York and saw Lion King! Look at my new necklace with a diamond from each child!). All you got was half-hearted hugs from your kids and a whiny request to drive them to the movies.
32) Speaking of presents, your big “gift” was an incomprehensible art project involving macaroni and glitter that you must “adore” and place on your refrigerator.
33) You wound up taking care of everyone anyway, even though it’s supposed to be your special day.
34) You have to spend your whole day pretending to have a nice day and to be happy with everything your family did for you, even though all you wanted was to sleep, watch Netflix, and take a bath.
For the record, here is what I would like for Mother’s Day:
1) Someone else walks the dog for the whole day.
2) Someone else makes me coffee and a fancy breakfast.
3) Everyone gets along, all day.
4) I get nice handwritten cards from each person in the family telling me, in detail, with examples, how great a mom I am. Someone also writes one for me “from the dog.”
5) Ice cream during the day. A glass of chardonnay at night.
6) Maybe a princess hat.
I hope you have a good Mother’s Day! It’s a tough job and I hope you have a loving, relaxing day. But, if you don’t, hang in there. Tomorrow will come soon enough.
Lise Deguire's multiple award-winning memoir, Flashback Girl: Lessons on Resilience from a Burn Survivor, is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Newtown Book Shop and The Commonplace Reader.