Redefining Mother’s Day For Those Who Dread the Holiday

Written by on May 6, 2014 in Self-Awareness

Redefining Mother's DayIn a few days, we will celebrate Mother’s Day and in doing so honor mothers, motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in our society.

The day has become synonymous with family gatherings, Sunday brunch, Hallmark greetings, endless commercials for gifts and flowers, and image after image of inspiring quotations and family gatherings posted in every social media platform as proof of how much a mother is valued by those near and dear.

There’s no question that Mother’s Day is a well-deserved celebration and if this is your special day I hope you will enjoy every moment of it. Hang out with the kids a little longer, hug a little tighter … but please take notice of anyone around you who may be having a hard time because there are those who deeply dread this holiday.

When Mother’s Day is a Struggle

The harsh reality is there are almost as many people who dread Mother’s Day as those who celebrate it. Of course, there are many reasons for this, and here are just a few …

  • The day has never lived up to your expectations.
  • You have a bad (or no) relationship with your mother.
  • You’re mourning the loss your mother or a child.
  • You’re in a power struggle with the in-laws.
  • You’re a single mother with little or no family or emotional support.

Whatever the reason, if you are among those who dread Mother’s Day, it is within your power to make this year different.

Begin With Realistic Expectations

Remind yourself that the commercial images depicting perfect families on Mother’s Day are the contemporary version of the “happily ever after” of fairy tales.

Everyone’s idea of what makes a family is different. Some families are small, others are large; some are combined through divorce and remarriage. Some families have parents of the same sex, and some have only one parent while for others those considered “family” are not even related by blood. Some families make you crazy, others break your hearts, and still others serve as a lifelong safe haven and teach us the true meaning of love. The one thing all families have in common is that none are “perfect.”

Family is not reserved for flesh and blood. It’s time, love, caring and sharing. That’s family! ~Author Unknown

Ask for What You Want

Most women avoid plainly asking for what they want, to think of others first, to be polite, to be (gulp) nice. We also have a tendency to expect those near and dear to somehow automatically know what would fulfill our fantasies for the perfect Mother’s Day. If Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant is a Mother’s Day tradition in your house, but what you really want is to sleep in and have one whole day without cooking, cleaning or refereeing … ask for it. You may just be surprised at how grateful your family is to know what will make you truly happy.

Make it a Day of Appreciation

Maybe you never knew your mother or grew up in foster care system, or possibly it was someone other than your mother who provided you with strength, nurturing and guidance. Whether it is a grandparent, friend, mentor, teacher or even a sibling, instead of focusing on the one relationship you don’t have, why not make this a day to show those who have been there for you how much you appreciate all they have done for you.

Celebrate the Life of Those No Longer Here

If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, take some time to reminisce and celebrate their life, then get a massage, take a walk and spend some time nurturing yourself in whatever way feeds your soul. Most importantly, honestly embrace your grief and recognize that feelings of envy or sadness are normal when you see others celebrating.

If you feel the need to express your grief in a more dynamic way you might establish a ritual to honor your loved one, for example if they passed away as a result of an illness you could do something to raise funds or otherwise benefit research. A friend of mine lost her mother to breast cancer and every year runs in a Mother’s Day 10k in her honor to raise funds for breast cancer research.

Balance Family Commitments

As warm and fuzzy as the notion of multi-generational family gatherings may be in theory, when it comes to balancing holidays in general, and Mother’s Day in particular, between parents, grandparents and in-laws it can be pretty stressful.

Take the time to talk with your spouse or partner about how you as a couple will establish your own holiday traditions. Plan ahead, work for balance and fairness and communicate clearly with everyone involved to prevent unpleasant surprises or hurt feelings. Try to be open to changing your plans as needed.

When nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. When nobody else compliments you, then compliment yourself. It’s not up to other people to keep you encouraged. It’s up to you. Encouragement should come from the inside. ~Joel Osteen

Take Time to Honor Yourself

Mother’s Day presents a whole different set of challenges when you’re a single parent or you’d rather chew nails than spend time with your family. There are two ways to go here. You can try and find a way to ignore the holiday – and the younger your children are the more tempting this option will be. Or you can honor yourself. Your celebration can be as simple as heading to the park for a special picnic with the kids or enlisting your kids to help you pamper yourself and create a feeling of celebration around your special day. Honoring yourself is not about ego, it’s about self respect and that starts with how you treat yourself.

Why not redefine your Mother’s Day this year? No matter what your challenges may be you deserve to be acknowledged. It just feels good to receive validation for the strength and emotional resilience required to balance the demands of motherhood and family.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Rachel Lavern

    Last year was the first time that I actually met someone who shared a bittersweet experience due to being estranged from her mother. I encouraged her to trust God with every moment of her life and if there was any room for reconciliation to allow God to move on her behalf. She was not ready to fully do this and I left feeling that she was being held in bondage to a lifestyle of unforgiveness. So sad. Unforgiveness is the poison one drinks expecting the other person to die.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Leverage Your Time for ProfitMy Profile

  2. Mother’s Day has always been very positive for me, because I have a good relationship with my mom — and because my birthday and my mom’s birthday are right around that day. I was, in fact, born on Mother’s Day. But I know so many who do not share my warmth for the day, for some of the reasons you’ve stated.

    My eldest daughter and her husband wanted so very much to become parents, and were in the process of finding out if there was anything the doctors could do — when her husband passed away suddenly one morning last August. My daughter is in her early 30s, with no thought of remarrying. Mother’s Day has a whole different meaning for her. Happy, because we have a good relationship… and infinitely sad because her hopes of being the mother of her husband’s children will never become reality.

    Marquita, your post means two things to me… First, when others around me have no idea that what they say or do hurts me, I have the ability not to allow it to keep me down. And second, I need to be sensitive to others around me, and not be oblivious to their pain.
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…Let’s Peek through a WindowMy Profile

  3. Yorinda Wanner says:

    Hi Margitta,
    wow, what a refreshing post filled with so many great suggestion.
    You have covered a lot of angles in this inspirational post.
    I like the way you said that “Encouragement ‘should’ come from the inside’.
    A lot of people may still need to learn how to do this.
    It would be a great subject for a blog post.
    I appreciate having redefined mother’s day a few years ago which has saved me a lot of disapointments.
    I also appreciate that my oldest son has acknowledged mother’s day in his own unique way.
    Thank you so much for sharing your abundant insights.
    Love and Light!
    Yorinda Wanner recently posted…Musings about MothersMy Profile

  4. nick catricala

    I did not expect much less of what you wrote about mother’s day celebrations.. but I must say a little extra.. I never thought of many of the things you wrote since I had a very loving mother and we had a great relationship till her last day on earth back in 2007 when she passed away at the ripe age of 92. It is amazing that when we are used to live in a certain way we have no recollection of how others would see the same life but on a different perspective…

    Thanks so much for your way of sharing and for your wisdom to do what you do so well. Happy Mother’s Day (passed) in which way you can accept it 🙂
    nick catricala recently posted…Happy Mother’s DayMy Profile

  5. Marty, Wow what a wonderful and realistic post on celebrating Mother’s Day in a way the really resonates with you, your mom and your family. I am so grateful to have my mom living out in California now and we always have a great time doing really relaxing things on Mother’s Day. This year I am making her brunch with some of her favorite foods and then we are going to the beach. Thanks for writing this post!
    Shelley Alexander recently posted…Energizing Cherry Cashew Chia SmoothieMy Profile

  6. Hi Marquita,
    What a beautiful post. I hope everyone has a great Mother’s Day and celebrates the way they would enjoy. For the past 3 years, my daughter and grandkids take me to the beach for the weekend. While I’m not much of a beach person, at least I am spending time with my kids and they understand if I want to stay in the room some of the day reading or just doing nothing.

    Have a great evening. Monna
    Monna Ellithorpe recently posted…All WordPress Plugins Are Not Equal or Good For Your BlogMy Profile

  7. Hi Marquita,

    What a realistic view!! After a long time I am reading something which talks about real life, which recognises the fact that families are not perfect, as they are shown to be and each family has some odd sore point. My heart goes out to all those mothers who can’t or don’t celebrate their day in the way they wish to.I have always felt that one day is not enough for mothers…even celebrations of eternity can’t pay what mothers do for their children.

    Mother’s love still remains the same, whether somebody celebrates it or chooses to ignore it. Despite indifferent adults, who just pay a lip sympathy to mothers and some even don’t care to do that, a mother’s heart is always filled with love and kindness…all she wants to give is blessings and receive respect.

    Wishing all those mothers who feel deprived of real love on this day a Warm and Happy Mother’s Day!
    Balroop Singh recently posted…Of Traditions, Conservatism and Giving…My Profile

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