It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from me. I have a lot to share about new things coming up, but I’ll do that the next time you hear from me.
It’s unfortunate that Mother’s Day has been largely run by card companies, retailers and restaurants. These industries have created illusions about how cherished and adored mothers “should” feel on the second Sunday of May.
I think it’s reasonable to expect that this year in particular, Mother’s Day might be a little rougher than others.
This year, without all the thoughtful teachers who normally oversee crafts, sweet notes and mom-appreciation for little kids, many moms are likely to be feeling over-taxed and under-valued. While we moms might be needing extra appreciation, our loved ones may have less to offer.
Another problem that the retailers haven’t addressed in their rose-colored commercials about Mother’s Day is that this is a day of pain for many. I mean, who doesn’t have at least some mother-related pain? The varieties of mother-pain are broad: lack of good mothering, un-healed trauma, loss, regret, guilt about our own mothering, grief about our children’s struggles or loss of our own children. If we have suppressed grief about our own mothering or how we were mothered, it takes more than a pretty card or nice meal to heal the hurt.
And then, while we have all this emotional complexity inside us, society has trained us that our loved ones should be rolling out the red carpet to make us feel special and appreciated. The retailers don’t acknowledge that our partners – and our kids – may have their own stress and mom-pain that get in their way of having enough bandwidth to celebrate us.
Coming to peace with our own mother-pain seems to be a universal opportunity to grow and pass healthier ways of being down to the next generation. I give huge credit to therapy for helping me: 1) come to peace with the gap between what I needed and what I got from my mother, and 2) give my mom credit for the gifts she did give me. Now, it’s an honor helping clients work towards “peace-of-mom”… which really helps with peace-of-mind.
This year for Mother’s Day, I think the sweetest gift I could receive would be WORDS. Words that I have been enough. Words that in spite of my imperfections, my humanity, my annoying idiosyncracies, and my mistakes along the way … that they’ll take me the way I am. That I am enough.
Ahhh, but here’s the rub: nobody can drive that into me if I haven’t already created a place of acceptance inside myself that I have been enough. If I can’t convince myself that I have been “good enough” as a mom, how can my kids? Or my significant other?
I’ve committed to myself this year that the most important part about Mother’s Day is going to be internal. I’m going to start my day with a journaling exercise that helps relieve pressure from bottled up emotions. I’m going to feel all that I can feel about the topic “Mother.” This is to honor that there are a lot of feelings that can come up around Mother’s Day.
1. I’m going to journal a Flow of Feelings, an exercise developed by Laurel Mellin:
What am I:
- Mad about?
- Sad about?
- Scared about?
- Guilty about?
And then, what am I:
- Happy about?
- Grateful for?
- Secure about?
- Proud of (myself)?
2. I’m going to dive as deep as I can into my gratitude for the gift of motherhood because it has been the deepest, most wonderful, most defining part of my life.
3. I’m going to (do my best to) use a kind inner voice to tell myself that I don’t have to be a perfect mom in order to be a good mom.
4. I’m going to send love to all who have mothered, all who are mothering and all who are mothered. Oh… and to Mother Earth.
Once I’ve done these things, I will have had my own internal Mother’s Day. I will not hold my family hostage to making me feel valued from the outside-in.
To all of you mothers who have taken my classes, attended my talks, worked with me 1-1, joined my list or been my friend, I wish you a day of acknowledging for yourself all that it takes to show up as a mom moment after moment, day after day, year after year. I wish you a day of embracing your imperfection with great delight. I wish you a day of honoring your mothering, whether or not anyone else does.
With love and laughter,
Kerry Stutzman, Parentologist
Family and Parenting Specialist
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist