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  • Writer's pictureChris Masuda

Mother's Day Can Be Difficult

May 12th is around the corner and I realized there was one idea I wanted to normalize: Mother's Day can be difficult.

As a mom, a psychiatrist, and a daughter, I see this holiday through several lenses. I hold mixed feelings about it from each lens. And that is ok.

When I hear peoples' stories as a psychiatrist, I often find a lot of people struggling around major holidays. There seems to be this contrast between expectations of happiness and reality of more complicated feelings. I wonder if the expectations make any negative feeling seem ''wrong'' or ''bad'' or ''pathetic''. I also wonder what it would feel like to get a dose of ''me too'' from thousands of others in a similar boat, rather than feeling like an outlier, rather than feeling ''other'' and alone.

The hallmark image of Mother's Day probably entails a caucasian American mom and grandma surrounded by their adoring spouses, kids, and grandkids, laughing around a table with delicious food and surrounded by greenery. When we encounter something different from that, something difficult, that Hallmark image can really have a bittersweet longing flavor to it.

I think it's safe to say that nobody had a perfect childhood. My kid is currently in this moment not having a perfect childhood. It just does not exist. The relationship between moms and their kids ranges a huge spectrum of closeness, of difficulty, of warmth, and of hurt. Some peoples' mothers have passed away. Others might be unable to physically be with their kids for many different reasons. Some people have a combination of an adopted mom, a stepmom, and biological mom. Still others' moms might be there physically but there can be emotional barriers you can't see but can certainly feel.

When our culture asks us to celebrate a day about this relationship, it makes complete sense that the different nature of these relationships lead to very different emotional responses including happiness, fear, shame, guilt, joy, loneliness, anger, disgust, gratitude, and anxiety. Maybe even all of them at the same time. Another possibility is an absence of emotion, a kind of numbness. All of it is human and all of it is ok.

As I go about my day on May 12th, I anticipate some strong emotions from both ends of the spectrum. I'll be thinking about how I'm not alone in having these feelings. I will be holding my hand up to my cheek in a quick subtle movement of self compassion when it gets difficult. I'll be doing my best to embrace being human.



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