Are you ready for Mother’s Day? And I don’t mean with the perfect card and flowers. I mean, the day you have to celebrate a woman, who you may not actually like. Unfortunately, many daughters have an estranged or tense relationship with their moms and while we live with this every day, what happens when it’s Mother’s Day? Whether you’re ready or not, it’s her day, so what are you going to do about it?
It can easily become a day to remember and resent all of the things we dislike about her and our upbringing. Many mothers are controlling, dismissive and unavailable, just to name a few of the toxic patterns they can display.
These behaviors hurt, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Or the mom out with Mother’s Day.
You see, as Peg Streep wrote in Psychology Today, “the female of our species isn’t hardwired to love her offspring; it is the child, not the mother, whom evolution has equipped with a powerful need as an aid to survival. It’s estimated that half of us, plus or minus, hit the jackpot and have mothers who range from ‘great’ to ‘good enough.’”
So that means, the other half of us didn’t hit the jackpot. But instead of begrudging your mom for not being the mother you need, you can see yourself as the daughter who she needs. You might be saying, “There’s no way that my mom is my responsibility!”
But it’s not that you’re responsible for her. You’re responsible for you and your presence can help her. So, here’s what you can do for both you and your mom, this Mother’s Day.
As much as we want to save a sour relationship or another person, it’s neither in our power nor our responsibility to do so. We cannot heal others, but we have to heal ourselves! And this is the best step toward reconciling yourself with the relationship you have with her, whatever it looks like.
Until you forgive, you’ll carry lots of emotional baggage that will permeate your mind and body. You forgive, not because you caved in and made everything she did OK. You forgive so that you can be free of the pain and negativity.
You may not respect, admire or like your mom, but her impact on your life is strong (which is why she can draw out some pretty high emotions from you). But because she still has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, just as you do, create opportunities for respect, while limiting the ones for disrespect. Maybe you can’t spend more than a couple hours with her and if that’s the case, keep it short and sweet. If a phone call is enough for the two of you, go with that. Just don’t feel obligated to meet the expectations that advertising and marketing bombards you with: Big parties, elaborate gifts and cards, expensive bouquets, etc. Do what feels right for your relationship.
Gift toward the Good
Go with gifts that you know will bring her happiness, not what you think she should have or what you wish she’d be into. Give her what will bring a smile to her face. My mom is an amazing craftswoman when it comes to all things knitting and crocheting. I don’t understand any of it, but a gift along those lines is perfect for her.
Plants not Flowers
Flowers, of course, are the popular choice, but these can be showy, insincere and short-lived. Perhaps a plant (even a small one) can remind you of the long-lasting bond between you and her, and the many seasons (both good and bad) which you’ve endured together.
Find an old photo of the two of you and keep it to yourself. When you look at it, reverse the role. Maybe you’re not so different than she was back then and maybe she did the best she could. Let this be your compassion card to help you be a good daughter, irrespective of the type of mother you had.
Mother’s Day is her day because she is your mom. But It also has a lot to do with you because, well, she’s your mom! And you can make it a good day for both of you.
Featured photo credit: Richard Taylor via Flickr via flickr.com