by Dena Yohe
Mother’s Day is coming soon – maybe too soon for you.
When your son or daughter struggles with addiction, mental illness, self-injury, an eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, same-sex attraction, is incarcerated or has other issues, this day is going to be difficult for you. It will hurt – a lot.
If heartache is your situation, then this article is for you.
Moms on this kind of journey don’t look forward to Mother’s Day. I know. I’ve been there. The anticipation only brought me increased sadness and heavier heartache. The holiday put a spotlight on what I didn’t have anymore. I wanted to skip it because I knew I probably wasn’t going to hear from my daughter much less get a card or gift from her.
What about you? You may have an idea that you won’t be greeted by your child’s smiling face, hand-made cards or thoughtful gifts like when they were young. Your child is too self-focused and oblivious for such loving gestures now. They may not even realize it’s Mother’s Day. They’re clueless.
Where does that leave you? Set up for boatloads of hurt and pain, anger and resentment.
For me, on days like Mother’s Day, I would long for the past. Special memories would flood my mind from when my daughter was little and wanted to cuddle in my lap. She adored me back then. Can you remember those moments with your son or daughter? Tidbits of comfort would also be found as I looked at old photo albums, visual reminders of happier times. I wanted them back.
But those days are over. We can’t go back. We’re in a new place on our parenting journey – one of grief and loss, of shattered dreams, of letting go.
Tips to help your aching heart when Mother’s Day hurts:
1) Lower expectations. This prepares us for less hurt and disappointment if things don’t turn out the way we hoped.
2) Change traditions. Do things differently. Start something new.
3) Make plans. Do what you enjoy even if you have to do it by yourself or with a friend.
4) Give yourself permission to feel your feelings. If you need to express sadness, create the space to shed tears; let them out. Holding back your tears only hurts you more in the long run.
5) Write a letter. If you’re angry, write a letter to your child expressing everything you want to say. Let your feelings rip and then destroy the letter. Tear it up in a million little pieces or burn it. These actions help release anger and might prevent you from saying something you’d regret later on. Repressed anger can also cause depression.
6) Shift the focus. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, focus on what you can be thankful for. You could do something for someone else. Reaching out to others is a natural mood-lifter.
7) Remember how special and loved you are by God. He thinks you’re absolutely amazing; you are His unique creation.
If He had a refrigerator your picture would be on it, wrinkles, crooked teeth, gray hair and all! In His eyes you’re perfect in every way. One of a kind. You are the beloved of Christ, beautiful and precious in His eyes.
A place of change.
Wounds have been inflicted – repeatedly. Deep disappointment has become the norm.
How did we get here, to this place of not wanting to face Mother’s Day, a day once filled with love and fun and laughter?
Can’t we pray this disappointment away? I tried to do this, but it didn’t work so well for me. Not that I didn’t pray – I prayed every day – but the hurt hung on like an old Band-Aid refusing to come off, stubbornly clinging to tender skin. It’s hard to heal deep wounds – wounds of the soul.
Is there anyone who can make it better? Is there anything that can lessen our pain or alleviate it altogether? My heart hoped so, begged for it to be true, but I wasn’t sure. Things being better meant that my child would be better, only I had no control over when or how this might happen.
Dear heartbroken mom, there IS Someone who can make it better … for you. However, it might not be time just yet for your child. Longer might be necessary to make it better for them. And so, you wait with a big unknown looming ahead. What will happen next? When will reconciliation come?
I don’t know – only God does – but until that day, be comforted by this: your heavenly Father knows. He sees. He understands. He cares. He’s praying for you and for your child. He feels your pain, and He is close.
What about today? What can you do right now?
This Scripture always comforts me:
“Praise the Lord … for great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2 NIV).
An uplifting book you might like is: My Cup Overflows … with the Comfort of God’s Love by Emilie Barnes.
God bless you with His peace and comfort on Mother’s Day.