Mother’s Day – A Day of Ambivalence

Woman in windowMother’s Day is here again and families are preparing for a day of honoring and doting on their beloved mother.  Many will spend the day eating together and celebrating multiple generations of mothers.  Each represented mother will be showered with accolades for the many roles she has played and the many ways she has loved her children. 

However, for some this day feels more like a day of suffering rather than celebrating.  While for some people this day reminds them of what they have – for others this day reminds them of what they have not. 

Mother’s Day can be a day of grief.

We are familiar with grief in relation to the death of a loved one.  And many will spend Mother’s Day thinking of their own mother who has passed on – while others mourn the loss of a child that bestowed upon them the name “Mother”.  For them, this day becomes another reminder that one of their own is no longer here for the celebration. 

Other losses often go un-voiced but yet still felt. 

The loss of the “Role of Mother” when a child grows up or moves away. 

Or the pain of a mother who lives in regret of how she lived out her role of motherhood. 

Or the mother whose experience of motherhood is filled with disappointment and pain.

On this day some grieve not what they have lost but what they never had. 

For some, they grieve the loss of never entering motherhood due to infertility or singleness.  Others may find themselves shopping for Mother’s Day cards and realize that their own mother is far from what is described in the beautiful sentiments in front of them. Perhaps others grieve a biological parent they never knew or perhaps they were re-united but the encounter did not have the fairytale ending they had imagined. 

Grief is layered. 

Love is vulnerable. 

Forgiveness is a mysterious healer. 

Being willing to love well will require us to risk experiencing great loss. 

For many this day brings both joy and sadness and they are reminded that there is much to be thankful for and much to grieve. 

Living healthy requires the ability to do both…

… sometimes on the same day…

… Mother’s Day, after Mother’s Day, after Mother’s Day.

Mothers give birth to life.

We can love what we have and can grieve what we have not.

On this day we can celebrate life.