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A Day Acknowledging Motherhood

Today is Mother’s Day.

A day that brings so many things to the surface for so many people.

Very few of them can truly even begin to be captured in a card purchased at CVS for $3.49, a bouquet of flowers that will be wilted before we reach the close of May, or a gift from Yankee Candle.

We may not all have the experience of being a parent, but we all have the experience of being someone’s child.  Belonging to another.

Our mothers are a part of the mysterious, magical process of becoming who we are. Their presence, their absence, their place – whatever it is – marks us. 

The sometimes broken, sometimes beautiful experiences both of becoming a child and evolving as a parent are really just about learning to be more fully human.   There is not a book prescription for these pieces of our identities. No identical mother-child match exists on this globe or anywhere in history.  Mothers become students of their children whilst discovering and learning deep places and never-before-understood spaces of their own selves.  Growth and development of a parent occurs alongside that of a child. 

Mothers do many things. 

Ask. Act. Applaud. Admonish. Abandon. Abuse. Create. Comfort. Cry. Call. Cheer. Calculate. Criticize. Choose.  Die.  Disappoint. Discover.  Encourage. Frustrate. Forget. Give.  Grow.  Guide. Hurt. Hit. Hold.  Hope. Interrupt. Indulge. Ignore. Love. Leave. Listen. Lead. Lie. Model.  Mold.  Provide. Protect.  Punish.  Protect. Plead. Permit. Question. Rock. Remember. Search. Share. Show. Shield. Serve. Scold. Sacrifice. Scream. Take. Teach. Talk. Understand. Watch. Worry. Wait. Write.

Most mothers are doing the very best they can with what they have.  Some are not.

As a psychologist, in the weeks that wrap around Mother’s Day I’m always acutely aware of how charged with affect this holiday is for people. Yes. People come to therapy and talk about their mothers. A lot.  This happens for good reason.  Freudian cliches aside, the connections forged with our primary care givers truly are some of the most powerful, formative relationships we will have in our lives.  Deeply woven into our intrapsychic fabric are the threads of first experiences of anticipation, comfort, knowing, and trust.  From our earliest moments on this earth, relational connections in our brains start to wire together.  This neurobiological process profoundly impacts how they fire together as we walk through our world and relate to others for the rest our lives.

Some people painstakingly wait for the second Sunday in May and its uncomfortable reminders to be history on the calendar for another year.  Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for individuals who have been hurt by their moms. Left by their moms. People who have lost their moms. People who want to be moms but can’t. Moms who have miscarried. Moms who have buried their children.

Amidst the annual “I have the best mom” social media frenzy and this year’s special Mother’s Day Zoom brunches, please hold this in your awareness. Be attuned.

On this day – one in which hearts are both filled with overflowing love and gratitude as well as complex, overwhelming grief – know that I’m holding space in mine for you – wherever you are landing on the continuum.


May 11, 2020

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