Mother’s Day: A Survival Guide

My mum & sister, Clare. (Thanks for letting me use the picture, Dad!)

Mother’s Day is terrific inspiration for anyone writing a feminist blog – it’s a day when it’s practically mandated to write about the inspirational women in your life, especially if they gave birth to/raised you. It’s also a little bit awkward when you’ve lost your mother and want to make that post, but don’t want to feel like you’re pissing on people’s parade.

  1. You’re not alone. Actually, I wish this one was a little harder for me to remember. Out of my closest friends, three of them have lost their mothers and a couple more aren’t on speaking terms for various reasons, and I wish more than anything that none of us had to go through this. But when all your friends are buying daffodils and chocolates and going for Mother’s Day spa trips with Mummy Dearest, it’s a little hard not to feel left out, jealous and pretty damn pissed off with the world. Remember that there are other people in your position right now – reach out to them if you can. There are online communities as well as support groups – Hope Edelman has some helpful links & resources on her website, and her book Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss is an incredibly helpful book for dealing with losing your mother at any stage of your life.
  2. Stay off the internet. Seriously. I made the mistake of checking Twitter this morning and ouch. Despite glowering silently at every advert and piece of spam mail that somehow got past the filter this past week, I’d somehow managed to forget this in the caffeine-free ten minutes between waking up and scrabbling for my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong – I’m really glad so many of my friends/acquaintances/celebrity crushes/people I have no idea why I’m following are having a great day with their parental units. But there’s no denying it’s difficult when your plans mostly involve chocolate for breakfast and wailing into a box of Kleenex whilst watching the Idina Menzel-Lea Michele duets from Glee. OK, the last part might just be me, but focusing on other people’s happiness is not what you need right now.
  3. Make sure people know how you’re feeling. I’m not saying that you get a free trip to Bitchytown today, but you’re not going to feel great and it’s important that the people around you know that. If you need a bit of TLC, then make sure you ask for it – equally, if all you want to do is hide in your room and not talk to anyone but your cat, that’s fine but make sure your flatmates/friends/partner know that it’s what you need.
  4. Remember the good times. If you’re lucky – and I accept that not everyone is – then you have some fantastic memories of your mum. Focus on them today, and even though it hurts I can promise you’ll feel better.
  5. Just because you can’t send it, doesn’t mean you can’t buy a card. I did this the first Mother’s Day without Mum – it just felt so bizarre not to get one, even if it was just going to sit in my desk drawer. I couldn’t write it without crying, but I’m glad I did. These last two years I haven’t felt the need to, but it’s nice to know I have that option. And there are other things you can do to mark the day as well – my Dad & sister are taking some flowers to leave at the cliffs where we scattered Mum’s ashes, which is something we do to mark special occasions. Shortly after she died, I went to Liberty (her favourite shop) and bought a beautiful notebook where I write things I’d like to tell her -  from long, emotional letters to descriptions of my new shoes – and where I write down memories. It’s also the most expensive notebook I’ve ever bought, but I think she’d approve.
  6. Start a new tradition. In Motherless Daughters, Addie decided to spend her Mother’s Days in the garden, “I made a ritual of planting flowers and praying for strength, light and life. It fits for me because I’m honouring my mother and nature, and celebrating the life-giving aspect of myself – which was truly the gift my mother gave to me.” [pg 24-5]

It’s never going to be an easy day, but it’s not supposed to be. Shortly after my mum died, someone told me that the amount it hurt was a measure of how much I loved her. You can’t make the pain go away, but you can ride it out knowing that it will fade (and come back, and fade again). And whilst it’s OK to take a few days to feel horrible, remember that you can’t hide from the world forever, and she wouldn’t have wanted you to.

3 thoughts on “Mother’s Day: A Survival Guide

  1. Pingback: Bonds of Trust « aparentinparis

  2. I came to your blog via Twitter – you’re right – not the place to go on Mother’s Day! My mum is gone 30 years next year, an awfully long time, but of course I remember her today especially. But I do think more of others who have just lost their mums, I do remember how painful it is the first few years mother-less. Your survival guide is perfect – thank you for sharing.

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