This Sunday is Mother’s Day — a day that for many means a celebration, a time for gifts, brunch, and spending time together. This is what Hallmark tells us to do, right? What if this is NOT your Mother's Day?
**For the purposes of this article I will be focussing just on Mothers. This is not meant to minimize the role of men in raising children at all, BUT to let this specific article focus just on the Mommas.
Motherhood for me, like many other women, completely changed my life. Everyday I am reminded of my greatest accomplishments when I look at my two kids. I am so lucky to have access to help with my kids, a job I love, and a very supportive husband. Although this is the greatest gift I have, at the same time it is the biggest challenge, most anxiety-provoking, and most emotionally taxing experience of my life.
I recently was at a party where one of my best friends was asked, “How is new Mommy-hood?” Her answer was “intense”. I loved it, she is absolutely right. It is intense. She went on to explain that the good moments are intense, and the bad moments are intense and I completely agree. We are inundated with information about what mothers are supposed to be like. We read books about “what to expect” and a lot of us were lucky enough to grow up with someone who was either our own mother or someone who took on that role. What I find, however, is that no one or very few talk about what we actually should expect.
Motherhood starts from the first moment we imagine what type of parent we will be, decide we want to have children, start trying to have children, or find ourselves pregnant with our first child. Motherhood is so incredibly different depending on an infinite amount of factors. Given that we cannot always control all of these factors (and I think there are a lot of us out there that may find that terrifying), how can we really prepare ourselves for this life-changing role we are about to take on?
I have spoken at length in my blog about the brave people that I get to work with on a daily basis. I am privileged to be able to work with a number of women who take on one of these roles of “Motherhood”. What I want to acknowledge in this blog post is that this Mother’s Day is not going to be easy for everyone. I really wanted to take sometime to acknowledge and support those of us who may not feel that Mother’s Day is a time for celebration, but is a harder day. I really wanted to reach out to those Moms and let them know we didn’t forget about them.
In taking time to reflect, these are just some of the Mothers I keep thinking about:
*To the Mothers out there who have lost a child. I want you to know that this day is going to hurt, this day is going to remind you of the indescribable pain that they are experiencing in losing a child. Not that a day goes by when you do not think about it, but I want you to know that on this day we are celebrating you too.
*To the Mothers that are trying desperately to conceive children and are having trouble. Who are completely drained emotionally because this process is not coming as naturally to them as they once thought it would. They are feeling shame, guilt, exhaustion, and frustration with the fact that their bodies are not working in a way that we have grown up thinking would come so easy. I want those Mothers to know that this weekend is also about you and that you cannot give up.
*I want us to acknowledge the Mothers that are doing this all on their own. The Mothers that don’t have that partner that can come home at the end of the night and relieve them so that they can go and have a shower. That they have to be both parents for their children, that do not have a partner that will help their children to pick up a gift and bring it to them. I want those Mothers to know that we other moms are thinking of them and think that they are the super heroes that we cannot see.
irritable, angry, and sad and not joyful and elated as a Mom. I want those Mothers to know that just because they cannot bring themselves to feel the joy of this day, that there is hope for you in finding that. That the darkness will pass and help is available.*I want us to acknowledge the Mothers that are struggling emotionally. I want the Mothers that have realized that they are depressed, that they have “that postpartum depression” that we only ever thought other people would get. That are battling with guilt because they are
*I want to acknowledge the people out there who do not have their own mothers to celebrate with them. I want them to know that this day is hard. This day where you once picked up a plant every year and took your Mom out to brunch may be harder than other years. I want you to let yourself feel sadness because you miss her and do something on this day to honour her and her presence in your life.
Finally, I want all the Mothers out there to know that I have so much respect for you and I am proud to consider myself part of your team.
We get caught on the train of expectation, perfection and achievement that we have such a problem slowing down and relishing in what we have. As Mothers I think we are prone to doing this a bit more. Pressure is everywhere to do things a certain way, shaming parents for everything from how we dress our children, what religion we raise them as, what school they go to, to what gender they are. We feel the weight of their trouble on our shoulders and that is not something that will be discussed on Sunday. I want all the Mothers out there to take this weekend and really try and just be at ease with yourself and celebrate You and your own ability to do the hardest job on earth.
Give yourself some love for standing by your body as it transitions in shape, size, and ability through the process of childbirth.
Give yourself love for sleepless nights.
Give yourself love for staying up late to prepare lunches for the next day.
Give yourself love for googling what the signs and symptoms of an ear infection are before making the doctors appointment.
Give yourself love for the anxious moments where you let your child do something you were terrified for.
Give yourself love for working through the week to provide for your kids.
Give yourself love for being there through the hard times when your children are not at their best.
Finally, Give yourself love for showing up, caring, and being present in your children’s lives.
I myself am completely privileged to be able to celebrate this day as a mother of two beautiful children. As someone who was very much prepared to have my own mental health change after childbirth, I am thankful for the support I had and the access and awareness I hold. I am thankful that I am also blessed to spend the weekend with my own mother whom I can physically be with and celebrate. I am guilty of falling into the trap of “shoulds” and know what it feels like to have days when I feel like I am just not good enough. I am going to practice all of these things this weekend and try and remind myself that Motherhood is unique to us all.
Psychotherapist and Mom