When Mother's Day Is Hard

Not every Mother's Day is perfect, but how you handle that is key.

Most of us would confess that we take good things for granted, including our mothers. That is why, in spite of any shortcoming the tradition may hold, it is a good thing for there to be one day to remind us to do what we should do every day--show appreciation, love, and respect for our mothers. It brings joy, as past memories are recalled and the way is paved for closer relationships in the future. Houses of worship are packed on Mother's Day; in fact, for churches, only Christmas and Easter have larger attendance.

Yet there is a silent, mostly forgotten group of people--consisting of our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even family members. They have in common a secret: Mother's Day is a terrible time for them.

Opal had waited until the church was empty. "Pastor," she said with tears in her eyes, "I'm sorry, but I won't be able to be in church next Sunday. It's Mother's Day--and it is just too emotionally charged."

Opal was one of the best-adjusted persons I knew. She was an educator, highly regarded in her field. "I had one child, a daughter, who died from cancer," Opal explained. "You never, ever get over the loss of a child. I have learned to cope quite well, except on Mother's Day, when the emptiness steals in and almost overwhelms me."

This conversation happened several decades ago, and since then I've become aware of many reasons that Mother's Day is hard for so many.

For example, the loss of a mother will dredge up deep feelings on Mother's Day, especially if the loss came during a child's formative years. But the death of a mother at any age can be difficult, especially for those who were either very close to their mothers or those who had unhappy, unresolved issues with the parent they lost.

Children who live with a stepmother can also find the day hard. Should their first loyalty be to their birth mother or to the one with whom they are living? When Linda was young, her mother died. Now that she is living with her father and stepmother, she dreads Mother's Day. "At church, they pass out flowers," Linda explains. "We are to take a red flower if our mother is alive or a white flower if she is dead. I never know which to take." Her quandary lies deeper than the choice of flowers. It also has to do with conflicting loyalties.
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William D. Webber
Related Topics: Holidays, Love Family
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