Mother’s Day. A cherished day for most people as well it should be. Having a special day set aside for celebrating motherhood is something most every mother looks forward to. To have that special day of recognition for a job well done throughout the year gives mothers the encouragement to get through another year.
- Breakfast in bed
- Special dinners in her honor
- Memories of days gone by
It’s a time when the card stores’ profits peak and the aroma in the flower shops provide a soothing scent as you walk in the door. Restaurants get to fill their rooms to capacity and jewelry stores get to showcase their best sparkling gems. All these special helps are available to provide Mom with a beautiful day of relaxation and pampering.
But what if you happen to be one where this special day is difficult for you for one reason or another? How can you get through a day that reminds you only of loss or grief? Perhaps you never had a good relationship with your mother. Or, perhaps you lost your mother at some point in your life. Maybe you are one of the millions of women who experienced infertility and never had the opportunity to be blessed with a child. Mother’s Day is then just a reminder of a sad, unfulfilled time in your life.
Overcoming the challenges of special days is possible with a little bit of re-direction in how you look at a situation. It’s never easy to overcome challenges but, in order to have a more satisfying life we have to do the best with what we have been given in our lives. But how do we do that when each year we are reminded of what was never to be? I’d like to offer a few suggestions on why we stay stuck in the disappointments of life and how to overcome the challenges of these painful events.
As a function of being a human being, we build up expectations of how our life “should be”. Unfortunately, the expectations we build up in our minds rarely turn out to be how they exist in the real world. As a result we are constantly disappointed and feel cheated. The sooner we accept that much of life is not in our control, the quicker we will be able to let go and learn to deal with what we’ve been given. If we continually fight against the things we don’t want in our lives, we will never grow beyond it and overcome the challenge. This is not a fatalistic view, it is just reality and it’s a viewpoint that can keep us from growing bitter. There are things we can control and things we can’t control. We should control what we can, and accept what we can’t change. You would be surprised at how much better you feel about things just by not having expectations. No person or event can ever live up to the expectations we build up in our minds and as a result we are often disappointed.
As an example, if you never had children and every mother’s day is a reminder of what you desperately wanted and couldn’t have, you might tend to feel bitter when you walk through the malls or see the advertisements for mother’s day gifts. Or, when they give out the flowers to the mothers in church and you don’t get one, your heart feels the sting of feeling left out of something that is so natural for most women. What can you do with these feelings and how can you nurture yourself when you’re feeling cheated or disappointed?
There are so many people who need to be nurtured around us. Not just in our immediate area but all over the world. We nurture someone just when we give them encouragement or provide a meal to someone who is sick. Even keeping a lovely home or gardening brings out the nurturing quality that is stored up deep within you. For example, I nurture myself over the loss of my husband by buying an African Violet each year on the anniversary of the day he died. Throughout the years, as I nurture what is now 7 African Violets, I somehow feel closer to him as I watch the flowers bloom each year. Life is replacing the sadness of death and it provides me with a nurturing and tangible opportunity to keep the memories of him alive. Re-framing how we think about things can help us live out our potential instead of staying stuck in circumstances we have no control over.
Perhaps you’re a woman who never had a good relationship with your mother and struggle every time you need to pick out a card for her? All the Mother’s Day cards are beautifully written, touching verses that praise her as a mother and yet something deep inside you just doesn’t feel those types of emotions. You deeply want to send her a card that is loving and caring and yet you struggle finding the feelings. So you choose a card that doesn’t really express your feelings or just send a card that has a generic verse. But consider this: have you even examined what might be causing the strife in the relationship?
Have you ever considered her life? What do you know about her? What was her childhood like? Did she receive nurturing from her mother? Did she have anyone in her life who nurtured her? Is she hurting emotionally herself because of a loss in her life that she never grieved and as a result, isn’t emotionally able to nurture someone? Is she an angry mom or does she exhibit signs of depression? Often, people who haven’t been nurtured themselves don’t know how to nurture someone else. How can they nurture if they’ve never been taught or shown love themselves? Instead of being angry about a less than desirable relationship with your mother (or anyone in your life) it might be helpful to learn more about what they experienced in their lives. One great way to learn more about your mother is to present her with a legacy book that provides a 12 month layout with questions that ask her about her life. Take charge of the situation and learn what you can and you might be pleasantly surprised about the healing that can occur both for your mother and you.
As I mentioned earlier there are things we can’t control and things we can control in our lives. To nurture ourselves through our painful experiences, we need to embrace what we can change. Painful experiences have a lot of potential power to sap our strength and cause us to feel like victims. But we don’t have to allow painful experiences have control over us. Instead, we can embrace the pain or the trials in our lives and learn how to reframe how we think about them. Whatever causes you pain, don’t allow it to control your life or change your personality. Instead use it as an opportunity to grow and get stronger and use what you learn in the process to help others.
What you don’t want to embrace is self-pity. That’s a trap that deeply ensnares you and fosters the victim mentality. When the negative thoughts of self-pity start trickling into your brain, shut that door! When you open the door, they gladly march in and nest there. Once they build that nest, removing them will take more power than you’ll have available and the victim mentality will become a stronghold. Here are a few tips on how to embrace reframing your thinking:
1. Embrace the fact that you have the ability to think about things differently; you just have to make the choice to think differently
2. Embrace the good things in your life rather than the painful things
3. Embrace the world around you and offer help to others who are hurting
4. Embrace finding inspiration through other people who have overcome painful situations
5. Embrace the pain of the loss or the circumstance and realize it will always be a point of sadness in your life but you don’t have to let it define who you are
I hope these few suggestions will help you through the next mother’s day, or any day that is difficult for you, and encourage you to start a path of strength and healing.
Please visit my website to learn about some of the ways you can pay tribute to your mother or someone special in your life.