While many of us cherish Mother’s Day and look forward to the time that we get to spend with family and friends, our own children and our mothers, some of us don’t. Instead (or in addition), many of us can find this day really challenging and difficult.

There are plenty of blogs and cards and quotes and books which talk about all of the happy stuff; the stuff for which many of us are truly grateful. And there should be. There is much that is celebrated on this day, which many of us feel incredibly blessed to have in our lives and to be able to experience.

One Motherhood, many experiences

However, that is not everyone’s story on Mother’s Day or it is not everyone’s whole story on Mother’s Day. If you happen to be someone who finds this day a struggle, you are not alone.

Some of us do not have wonderful relationships with our own mothers. Many of us are not able to have our own children or feel as though we are forever trying. Many of us have lost our phenomenal mothers and miss them terribly on all days, especially this one. Some of us find it hard to connect with our mothers or confused by how we are supposed to feel about parenting.

How many of us feel left out on this day, alone with the losses it brings with it? How many of us find that our motherhood story, whether in the form of us as the children or us as the parents or potential parents, to not be the dream we would have liked to live, or at least to not be the dream at the moment?

Taking care of yourself

So let’s say that your Mother’s Day isn’t feeling perfect. What do you do with that grief? Or that anger? Or that sadness? Society is full of milestones and “shoulds.” We should be happy on an assigned day or feel a certain way about something that is expected to elicit that feeling, we should follow a foreseen path in an absolute way, etc. How do we cope when events, days, and even national holidays, are like giant billboards telling us all about what we don’t have, but would have liked, would like or can only wish for right now? 

We mourn. We grieve. In other words, we begin by acknowledging all of the above. We sit with what we don’t have, we remind ourselves how painful it is to wish for something that we don’t always have control over or to need something that we don’t yet know how to ask for. We show ourselves the compassion we can for having all of these confusing feelings, and let ourselves see them and experience them. It’s also a way of celebrating this day, albeit different than what is likely expected. 

Of course, this is easier said than done. More often than not, the grieving takes time. We can’t expect to heal all wounds in a matter of moments with an easy antiseptic. It is, in fact, a process. And doing so isn’t always something which has an easy on or off switch. But taking the first step, just beginning to acknowledge, become aware and express those feelings safely to oneself or a trusted partner, friend or therapist is a good start.

In other words, on days, holidays or periods when we aren’t feeling as though we have it all figured out, it makes sense to grab some time to take care of ourselves. Typically, when we are feeling especially overwhelmed or in particular need of self care, we tend to not realize we need it. At these times, a helpful step we can take is to notice what is going on for us on that particular day, moment, holiday.

Often, it takes courage to feel. It takes courage to allow ourselves to be in touch with what makes us unhappy; our longing for unconditional love or any insecurity around motherhood, childhood, adulthood, or whatever it may be for us. It takes courage to be joyous and thankful and grateful, even when we truly are, and it takes courage to grieve. Perhaps not surprisingly, being able to grieve may at times prove to be what helps us feel the joy and gratitude.

To the all the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters—have whatever Mother’s Day you need to have! Celebrate it in your own way, with whatever feelings, memories, and experiences that you carry with you on this day.




I’m Kate Petrosky, one of the therapists you could see at Wright Institute Los Angeles where we offer Affordable Therapy for Everyday People!

Kate received a doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. She primarily draws from psychodynamic and object relations theories in her work with clients. Kate has particular interest in new motherhood, life transitions, and the process involved in becoming our true selves.