Holidays can be hard. The big ones and the smaller ones. They’re hard because we’re expected to celebrate and be joyful and sometimes that joy is hard to access. Sometimes the thing we’re supposed to celebrate isn’t accessible to us.
I find that it helps me to reframe holidays as a time for ceremony rather than a time for celebration. Ceremony may include celebration or it may not, but making the shift allows for opportunities for deep engagement without the crushing weight of expectation.
Mother’s day can be especially hard for women who are in the midst of postpartum difficulties. It’s near to impossible to celebrate motherhood when the transition to motherhood is causing so much despair, struggle, and feelings of inadequacy. And that doesn’t even consider the other painful confrontations we might have on Mother’s Day if our own mothers are absent in one way or another, if we have wanted children and weren’t able to have them, or if we have lost a child.
But ceremony doesn’t depend on having or being an ideal mother. It only depends on a willingness to explore themes of motherhood with an open mind.
It seems to me that celebrating mothers is a very small aspect of what we might do on mother’s day. It’s also an opportunity to mourn and remember, acknowledge suffering and work towards healing. While my own mother’s day will involve cards and breakfast made by my six year old and a trip to the garden center it will also involve some time to reflect on the baby I lost to miscarriage and the intense sorrow that comes from living across the country from my own mother. There is space for the grief.
Six years after the birth of my first child I am also a very different mother. I am no longer at the mercy of postpartum depression and it’s a good exercise on Mother’s Day to reflect on how much I’ve changed. Now a mother of two my life frequently revolves around my children, but I have learned the hard way that self care is not optional.
Today I hope you can create a mother’s day that speaks to your own journey in some way. I hope you can find a way to honour the place you are in and hold space for whatever joy, grief, challenge, or growth needs attention. When social media becomes swamped with pictures of grinning moms surrounded by happy looking children receiving their flowers or eating their brunches, know that this is only a small part of the story and it is not necessary to celebrate in that way to have a meaningful Mother’s Day.
I will leave you with this: Two Mothers, because I feel that this song really gets at the ways that motherhood doesn’t always conform to our expectations.