Mixed Feelings for Mother’s Day

Let me begin by saying that being a mom is without a doubt the best experience of my life. And that I am constantly in awe of how much so many moms are able to handle not only while raising their children but also throughout the rest of their lives.

But, like some other holidays we celebrate in our society, Mother’s Day brings up many conflicting feelings and thoughts for me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think mothers should be celebrated, it simply stirs up a lot of “stuff” for me and I feel like maybe I’m not the only one.

I honestly didn’t know if I would ever have children. I didn’t have any close friends with kids and I never held a baby until I held my own. I’d lived with excruciating migraines for decades and the thought of having to care for a little one while in the throes of such pain was mindboggling and had me believing that I wouldn’t be able to be a “good mom,” but quite suddenly in my 30s I knew I wanted to have my own family and the fears subsided long enough for me to do so. I was optimistic that somehow I would either have the support I would need or that the migraines would magically disappear. Neither turned out to be the case, but I found my way to care for my kids when the pain hit and, thankfully, the duration of those headaches did begin to lessen (and finally disappear altogether).

I’ve been a Solo Mom from the get-go. I lived with my kids’ dad for the first 10 years of being a mom, but I was still doing it all solo for a variety of reasons. Nine years ago I made the decision to leave that relationship to create a healthier, happier life for myself and my children and while there have been times when I’ve wondered how I would ever manage, it was definitely the best decision I could have made for us.

I find that I face a lot of disturbing feelings around Mother’s Day… I spent a decade either not being acknowledged or celebrated in any way for my role as a mom or I was made to feel guilty or like I was indebted for being “treated” to a meal made by someone other than myself. Gifts that come with the proverbial “strings attached” are not gifts at all. They are a messed up type of torment.

I’m very happy to share that I am now surrounded by people who acknowledge me as mother/friend/fellow human being who’s just trying to do her best on Mother’s Day and throughout the year (Thank You!!!), but even with the support and love I receive regularly, the painful feelings from past experiences still lurk around the back of my mind and this year in particular they are “shouting out” for my attention. I guess there is still much healing and understanding for me to do on this front.

Again, let me state that I LOVE BEING A MOM. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s at once the most joyful and challenging experience I could ever have imagined. I’m a totally different type of mom than I ever expected I would be and honestly, I’m super proud of myself for that. I love my own mom, but we rarely talked about much other than day-to-day events. I guess because of that, communication has been a very high priority for me in my relationship with my children. We talk about everything. The ridiculous. The mind-boggling. The difficult. The embarrassing. All-Of-It. I never wanted my kids to worry about approaching me with something and, for the most part, we’ve done well with that. I have been that mom who was there to help their friends out when they were in a jam, and I’ve been that Momma Bear who drove through a snowstorm at 2am on a weekend night to retrieve a child from a sleepover and give the “mean girls” a piece of my mind. The spectrum of momhood is vast!

Apart from my own mixed feelings over my own journey as a mom, I am very aware of the journeys of others.

Moms who’ve lost children. Women who’ve longed to be a mom but it simply has not happened for them. Children who’ve lost their moms. Moms in abusive relationships. Moms whose children have been taken away from them. Moms who live in dangerous parts of the world. Moms who’ve been widowed. Moms struggling with illness. Moms who didn’t have a great relationship with their own mom. Moms struggling to feed/house/clothe their children. Moms working multiple jobs who barely get to see their kids. Dads who’ve had to step in as both mother and father figure. It’s celebrations such as Mother’s Day that make me hyper aware of how many different experiences there are and that the life of a mom is NOT a one-size-fits-all gig.

And that’s what prompted me to share this today. We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s easy to assume that all moms are loving every minute of it and to forget the different types of challenges people experience. Its not all sunshine and roses…

Am I writing this because I’m opposed to Mother’s Day? No, absolutely not. Do I think we should acknowledge all the moms on Mother’s Day? Yes, absolutely celebrate the moms in your world. We thank you for it!

The good, the bad, and the ugly of this Mom Life… I give thanks for it all each and every day. I can’t even imagine who I would be today if I hadn’t become a mom. My children are the biggest blessing I’ve ever received and I don’t ever take it for granted.

So, a big heartfelt shout-out to the many moms out there. Your experience is your own. No two are alike. Be true to YOU.

Always from the heart,

Jennifer

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