Does Mother’s Day bring up hard feelings for you or give you anxiety?

Do you find it difficult or frustrating to find a Mother’s Day card that speaks to your relationship with your mother?

Is it a day you’d rather pretend doesn’t exist?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you’re in the right place. I am sharing ideas for how to honor, grieve, mourn, and celebrate on Mother’s Day, no matter what kind of relationship you have with your mother.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

Mother’s Day Can Be Complicated

I have seen every imaginable reaction to Mother’s Day after being a therapist for 25 years.

It can bring up painful experiences and reminders if you have a complicated or less-than-optimal relationship with your mother or mother figure.

Regardless of whether you are a mother yourself, I find Mother’s Day is really about the child within you and how she feels on this day.

We never stop wanting our parents to be healthy.

Even as adults, many of us still long for our parents’ love, especially if they were incapable of meeting our needs as children.

If this resonates, mourning the dream of the mother you wish you had can help lessen the longing.

Mourning the Dream

Mourning the dream means accepting the limitations of your maternal impactor, and accepting your childhood experiences for what they were.

Why do we need to mourn?

Because the longing for a different relationship with your mother may cause the child within you to seek a do-over within your relationship.

For example, if you had a punitive or narcissistic mother, you may be drawn to friendships where you play out this dynamic in hopes of getting a different outcome, which can be extremely painful.

In the words of Christine Langley-Obaugh, “We repeat what we do not repair.”

We have to write about our experiences to honor the feelings of our inner child.

Inside the guide, you will find a step-by-step process to help you mourn the dream of the mother you wish you had.

The Importance of Unconscious Feelings

There are a lot of unconscious feelings associated with having a mother wound (which you can read more about here).

Bringing these unconscious feelings to the forefront of your mind can deepen your understanding of your relationship with your mother and with yourself.

Some questions to explore are:

  • Was your mother capable of being present for you?
  • Did your mother teach you how to manage your feelings by managing her own feelings?
  • Was she attuned to you?

Having an unattuned mother can lead to feeling like what you want, how you feel, and what you’re experiencing doesn’t matter.

When we lack approval or attention from our parents, we learn that who we are and the way we are is not enough. We’re left feeling like we need to do something to earn our keep (get good grades, become a star athlete).

Inside the guide are more prompts you can explore to surface these unconscious feelings.

Prioritize Yourself on Mother’s Day

Whether you are a mother or not, I invite you to make Mother’s Day a day of self-celebration.

Love on yourself for surviving what you did.

Instead of focusing on the absence of having a good mother figure, focus on how you want to feel. Nurture yourself. Do things because they make you feel good or loved.

If you have a mother wound, you probably learned to prioritize how other people felt over your own feelings.

It can be a radical act of self-care to decide this is a day for you to do exactly what you want to do.

To avoid being inundated with marketing depicting the ‘perfect’ mother/daughter relationships, I also suggest staying away from the media. It can be really painful to see these things if your relationship with your mother is strained.

Alternate Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day

As a grown adult, you can opt out of Mother’s Day and ignore it, or decide to do something wildly different. After all, it’s a made-up day.

If you are a mother, hopefully, someone is celebrating you, but it can be liberating to celebrate traditional holidays in non-traditional ways when they are painful.

Why not honor the mother figures who did show up for you?

If you had a disappointing relationship with your mother, chances are you naturally found yourself drawn to “substitute” mothers.

Who cheered you on and supported you? Write them a letter of gratitude or let them know you’re thinking about them.

Are you partnered with a mother who is mothering better than your mother did? Celebrate them!

This goes for any mothers you know. Gather your chosen family and have brunch together.

Back when I was single and living in NYC, I always gathered my friends around painful holidays (we had similar wounds). We often took turns talking about our experiences and witnessing each other. Being in a safe environment with people you trust, who love you and you feel loved by, can be incredibly healing.

Honoring + Remembering on Mother’s Day

Maybe you had a great mom who passed away and you feel sad around this time. Honor her by writing a letter of appreciation or creating a tribute or memorial. Invite friends and family to tell stories about your mother, virtually or in person.

If your mother has transitioned and you have unresolved feelings to explore, writing a letter to honor those feelings is still an option.

I’ve had many therapy clients question how writing a letter can help, especially if they’ve gone no contact.

I’m not suggesting you send the letter. This is more about honoring how you feel. Your mother does not have to be alive or present for this to happen

If your heart is heavy, writing it out can be extremely helpful. Reading your letter to a trusted pal or therapist and being witnessed compassionately can be healing, too.

Ask For Support

Lastly, if you feel blue or low around Mother’s Day, ask your friends for support. Tell the truth to the people you love, who love you.

In the same way, you are there for your friends, there are probably people in your life who would be honored to be there for you. Allow them to be, even if it feels difficult. It is loving to practice accepting and allowing support.

Having parents is complicated. Whoever your caregivers were, these wounds run deep.

I created my Mother Wound course specifically for this reason. Inside, I walk you through the process of understanding and transforming your mother wound.

And if you think you have a father wound, keep your eyes open for this course in June! 👀

I hope this added value to your life and sparked new, creative ways to self-soothe and take care of yourself this Mother’s Day. You do not have to grin and bear it. Celebrate yourself, opt out, and do what feels good. Let me know what your plans are in the comments or on Instagram (@terricole), and don’t forget to download the guide!

I hope you have an amazing week and as always, take care of you.

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  1. The closest currency to "love" in our two-person family was "obligation". My mother had severe emotional wounds and would despise me if I didn't perfectly perform to her wishes. She is thankfully on a different continent, still, calling her causes profound aftereffects so even 4 to 6 calls a year are "too much". Grieving the love I never got, and all the physical and emotional abuses and their repercussions, has layers; just when you think you're back on track, you have another repressed memory come up and with it comes more anger to deal with. I only connect with her occasionally because I feel sorry for her. Doing my own recovery work has higher priority the rest of the time. I was blessed with 4 amazing children who are grown and making positive impact in their worlds. Mother's Day is a day of moving forward!

  2. My narcissistic mother stopped speaking to me the last six months of her life. I have had the freest mother's day since. I love not having to run all over and stress out trying to buy a gift. I have realized that I was buying what I have named shut up gifts; something that was completely obligatory just to get her to SHUT UP. I no longer have to and I personally find it amazing. I have grown children and they simply call or text to acknowledge the day. I tell them I am your mom on August 12th and on February 3rd and there is no need to get all wrapped up in some made up date. Just know you are loved and that we are good all year. No pressure from me. I never want my children to feel the way I felt about this day.

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