Mother’s Day. A day to shower love and appreciation upon your mom – to celebrate. But, what if like millions of Americans you no longer have your mother with you? Perhaps she died when you were small, or maybe when you were an adult. Perhaps she isn’t in your life for some other reasons, or perhaps you never knew her.
Can I tell you something? Mother’s Day can be still for you. Really.
My mother died of colon cancer when I was 16. It has taken pretty much the rest of my life to recover. And actually, recover is the wrong word. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it’s taken the rest of my life to begin to learn how to cope with that.
For many years Mother’s Day felt like salt being poured on a very raw wound. The commercials, the store displays could bring me to hot tears without warning. Most of all though – it was seeing girls my age with their own moms that was hardest.
When I became a mom myself, Mothers Day became simultaneously easier and harder. Easier because I was celebrating the gift of being a mom myself. Harder because becoming a mom only made me want my own Mom more, and in a new way. I wanted her to know her granddaughter, I wanted her reassurance that I was doing an okay job. Some days I just wanted a hug. Her hug.
So here is my advice for celebrating Mother’s Day, when you just don’t fit the Hallmark Commercials…
Some ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day – when you don’t have your Mother :
- Send cards and letters to the women that teach you, support you, and inspire you the way a Mother does. Let them know that you cherish them. Let them know what they have meant. Celebrate all the Mother figures you do have in your life. Remind yourself that even without your own Mother by your side, you are supported and loved.
- Plant a memory garden. Make it a special area that you can relax in, and revel in your memories of your Mom. Perhaps your mother had a favorite plant or flower? Perhaps a favorite color? Plant that! Let doing something good for “Mother Earth” – be a way you can connect again with your Mother.
- Share memories of your Mom with those that also knew her, celebrate who she was with those who are missing her too.
- Share memories of your Mom with those who never got to know her. Perhaps your children. Bring out her picture, tell them about her little idiosyncrasies. A funny story. Make her real to them, and by extension – make her real again to you.
- Eat her favorite meal, watch her favorite movie, or go to her favorite place. Something concrete and physical. Something you can touch or taste or experience on the physical plane.
- Do something altogether fun for you, that will totally distract you from Mother’s Day if it’s just too hard for you to embrace right now. In my opinion, it’s okay to run from this when you need to. Just consider connecting to it again in the future.
- Befriend a Motherless child, and help them. Do it because you know the road they are on, and you know how much they are grieving.
- Find a Mother who no longer has children to celebrate with her. Perhaps a local nursing home. Do for her, what you wish you could do for your own mom.
- Write down some of the memories you have of your mom, and gather your photos. Make a scrapbook that can ground you to who she was when you feel the tether loosening too much for comfort.
- Pray for those that like you are having a tough time. Pray that you always remember the most important lessons that your mom taught you. Pray that you can be gentle with yourself, most especially on this day.
- Sometimes Mother’s Day can make you can feel like your a bit of an outsider, the only one. Connecting with someone else who doesn’t have their mom can be a normalizing experience and can make you feel a little less alone.
- Wear a piece of her jewelry, a clothing item – something that lets you feel her presence beside you.
- Don’t be afraid of a good cry. Make a cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine. Put on the home movies, or your moms favorite song. Let this be a day you don’t have to be strong. Afterwards you may find some calm, and connection that was harder to hold on to when you were so busy holding it all together.
- Have siblings? What about a dinner together?
I guess most of all – I just urge you to celebrate the day. If you cant do it – that’s OK. We’ve all been there. But if you can gather your courage, and face the day – you can make it into something beautiful. Beautiful because you brightened someone else’s experience of it. Or beautiful because you connected to your mom again, in a way that is unique to you and her.