By Kathy Milans
For many, Mother’s Day brings up painful memories. The card aisle – now there was a part of the grocery store that I have avoided at the beginning of every May. I would give a sideways glance down that dreaded aisle. “You are the best mom in the world” is the message of most Mother’s Day cards, but this did not describe my mother. My mom was one tough cookie, so the card with the picture of a bouquet of flowers on the cover didn’t work either. Mother’s Day was just a yearly reminder that I grew up lacking the warm and nurturing mom I always longed to have. Maybe if I avoid tromping down that row long enough, the perfect funny, noncommittal Mother’s Day card will suddenly pop out of the display. But, I am sure I was not alone in wanting to get a fat black marker and put a big “X” over this day on the calendar.
My mother passed away twelve years ago. I no longer have to deal with the glaring row of sweet Mother’s Day cards, but it doesn’t mean that I do not still feel discomfort. Now my heart goes out to others. There are the children who are motherless on Mother’s Day. Some children live in foster care or have been adopted and Mother’s Day is a reminder of their loss. There are also those people who had good enough moms but their moms have died. Whatever the circumstances, this day can bring a dark cloud over many.
So, how do those of us who find Mother’s Day painful manage on this day?
1. Remember that God has the ability to provide the many things we were missing from our moms. Even though I call God “Father,” I do sense and receive so much love from Him that has been able to fill what was once an empty love tank.
2. Focus on the fact that we can have spiritual mothers in the broader family of God. No family is perfect and no parent can perfectly meet all of our needs. Try to develop mom type relationships outside of your biological family.
3. We are told to honor our parents but we want to be certain to honor the behaviors that are honorable. During a spiritual direction session, I was asked what I had been gifted by my mother. I immediately answered, “a love for animals.” No matter how large or small, we do need to put our eyes on the contributions our moms made to us. This can be a day to acknowledge what we received.
4. Be thankful for the mom types that God has already placed in your life. I was blessed to have an amazing Nana. Maybe God placed a teacher, neighbor lady or a mentor in your path. Think back and most of us can remember someone who gave us some unconditional positive regard.
5. I believe I have a very intact inner child. My adult self often mothers her by hearing what she needs and wants. Mothers Day can be a reminder to celebrate the healing that God has done in me by allowing me to have a healthy integration of self.
6. Forgive your mother. My mom was mentally unstable and therefore was incapable of loving. I spent years of my own life being angry at her when in reality, I needed to be angry at mental illness. In the end, I cared for my mom through the last weeks of her life. I accepted who she was and didn’t put expectations upon her. In her fits of paranoia and delusion, she would tell me she hated me. Those are devastating words to hear as a daughter. But, as she laid in her hospital bed she told me to go into her drawer and get a treasured pair of her earrings to wear to church. She couldn’t say she loved me, but actions can speak louder than words. Author Mitch Albom wrote in his book, One More Day, “But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But, behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours began.” Learn to integrate her story into your own and allow God to redeem and work for the betterment of future generations.
~ Kathy Milans is the lead team member for Soul Care Collective.