Let’s not deny that there can be a dark, bittersweet side to Mothers’ Day. As illustrated so simply and beautifully by the artist Mari Andrew, there are often complex stories behind any given person’s experience of Mother’s Day.

The Dark Side of Mother’s Day

Several of the therapists at Explore What’s Next are Moms. Our kids range in age from young adults to brand new babies. We are blessed to be happy in our parenting partnerships and having work that allows us to embrace our home life and Mom role fully. In this, for us as for millions of others, Mother’s Day is indeed a day to reflect on the joys and challenges of motherhood and to allow the family to fuss over us. Bring on the mimosas!

That’s one facet to the complexity of Mother’s Day. Then, often running right alongside the happy, there’s the darker side. For every bouquet Mari Andrew offers:

1. Mothers who lost children.

The unimaginable loss of a child does happen. A parent is always a parent. The love does not die, even if the child has. A Bittersweet Mothers’ Day  Mothers’ Day was founded to honor mothers who lost their children in the Civil War. Think about that. What I Didn’t Know About Mother’s Day

2. Those who lost mothers.

Since 2001, when my siblings and I lost our Mom to pancreatic cancer, Mothers’ Day just hasn’t been the same. The loss of her is acute on this day. My heart aches, wishing she hadn’t been taken so soon, too soon. And I’m full of love for the bigger than life person she was, what she gave me and what I try to share of her with my kids. She was a Good Enough Mom, not perfect. I will always love her. A Postcard to My Mom–Wish You Were Here

3. Those with strained mother relationships.

There are so many who didn’t have what I was fortunate enough to have, a loving mother, even if she was off the rails sometimes. We had our strained moments, for sure. But there are also moms who are far from good enough. Moms do exist who are either narcissistically neglectful of their child’s emotional needs, or so filled with anger the child is hurt physically. Sometimes both. Healing as adults from such a fundamental betrayal involves grieving the loss of the mother that never was. You are probably a much better parent to yourself than your actual mother could be. You are probably a much better parent to your own children than your actual mother was able to be. That is Good.

4. Those with strained child relationships.

There comes a time in the arch of parenting when it is best for us and for our children to let go of being responsible for them. Let go and let them. Yes, we will always be parents, but the job description changes as the kids get older. On Mothers’ Day and other days as well, try not to take your child’s behavior personally. Ask yourself, if maybe you’re expecting too much from them for the wrong reasons. Whatever Happens, Please Have a Happy Mother’s Day

5. Those who have chosen not to be mothers.

This is not a political statement. It’s about compassion. Mari got a lot of flack on this because some narrow-minded people only read it one way. I know people who could not have a child of their own, and they tried really, really hard. When their only option was adoption they chose not to follow that path. They are the best aunties that there ever was, to their nephews and nieces and to their friends’ children. Not being a mom was potentially a real choice I had to face when my chronic illness was running away with me. There are many, many reasons and circumstances that can cause a person to decide they will not be a parent. That decision can make Mothers’ Day emotionally hard to get through. The Awesome Role Models in My Mother’s Sewing Circle

6. Those yearning to be mothers.

If you are yearning to be a mother do not despair. You will find a way. Try to be patient, and be grateful for what you have right now and be the best mother to yourself you can be.

Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO

dr aletta of explore what's next

Executive & Personal CoachingIndividual & Relationship Counseling

Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.

Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.

Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.

Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.

716.308.6683 | draletta@explorewhatsnext.com

Here are a few more posts from Dr. Aletta and the Explore What’s Next team that you may enjoy that relate to parenting and Mothers’ Day

Six Ways to Talk About Sexting with Your Teen

Five Tips for Talking to Your Son About Puberty

A Bittersweet Mothers’ Day

Hey, Mom! Can You Handle The Truth?