What If I’m Dreading Mother’s Day?


Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many. I know all too well the emotional pain stirred up by a day devoted to motherhood. 

When I was just a few days old, my biological mother left me at a fire station. I spent my first year in an orphanage until a loving couple adopted me. My adoptive parents were wonderful people, and I enjoyed three years of familial bliss until tragedy struck again. At the age of four, my adopted mom passed away, and my dad quickly remarried a woman with four children of her own. 

My happy, healthy home quickly shifted to a toxic mix of abuse, greed, and anger. Their love was conditional, and I felt abandoned in my own home, left to raise myself. When my adopted dad passed away in 2011, I learned about it in the newspaper, and neither myself nor my children were listed as next of kin in his obituary.

When my daughter was born, those feelings of abandonment resurfaced, and I found myself mourning the loss of a mother I never had. I desperately wanted a mom to call, someone who would patiently answer all my questions about caring for a newborn. But as much as I desired this type of relationship, there was nobody to call. 

Naturally, every Mother’s Day ushered in an overwhelming sadness and, I’m ashamed to admit, a distinct feeling of jealousy for my friends who celebrated this day with flowers, chocolates, and brunch with their loving mothers. I made it a rule to never, ever look at social media on this day. 

Fast forward to a breakthrough in therapy and the realization that I could shift my thinking from lamenting what I didn’t have to gratitude for what I did. As soon as I started counting my blessings – a wonderful marriage to a loving husband for 37 years and two amazing children – I could finally embrace Mother’s Day. It wasn’t an easy process, but it was necessary to let go of the painful memories of the past and start creating happy new ones for the future. 

My story is not unique. Mother’s Day can be a difficult holiday for many women to navigate, whether that sense of loss comes as a result of death, abandonment, or estrangement. If you’re dreading this day in May, here are a few healthy ways to make it through and begin to heal:

  1. Take Care of Yourself – If you anticipate heightened stress on Mother’s Day, be proactive by planning a self-care day. Book a massage, get a pedicure, or take a trip to the beach with a good book. Make the day about rest and relaxation, and give yourself something to look forward to that’s good for your body and your mind. 
  1. Share Your Feelings – Bottling your feelings can make them harder to process. Say them out loud to someone you trust, and be honest about why this day is emotionally taxing. Don’t worry about being the rain on the Mother’s Day Parade; those who care about you want to walk with you and lighten the load. 
  1. Spread Kindness – Often, the best way to help yourself is to help others. Turn a difficult day into a day of service by helping those in need or doing something meaningful for the people in your life. Spreading kindness is a proactive way to take control of your feelings and channel your energy for good. 

Most importantly, be gentle with yourself when this day rolls around. Shake off the expectations of what this day “should be” and allow yourself permission to “just be.” Healing takes time, and some scars will always remain, but you can find meaning and growth in the process.

About the author: Loretta Holmes, M.A. is the founder of Bella Coaching Services and is an educational therapist and an ADHD Coach. Educational therapy teaches children how to be independent learners and have a growth mindset. Loretta is passionate about inspiring all children who are affected by ADHD and learning challenges who are struggling with self-regulation skills to build a calmer world. Join Bella Coaching’s new community, Big Little Emotions: Helping Your Child Calm Down, Cope, & Regain Control here.

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