When Mother's Day Is Hard

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Sheryl was a foster mother for seven years to a girl she loved dearly. It was devastating to her when the birth mother took the child back. "How does one heal after such a loss?" I asked her.

"I shared my hurt with family and friends," she replied "I needed support. I talked with my pastor. I prayed. I came to realize this child had come into my life for a purpose. It was for more than what I could give her. It also had to do with my growth as a human, and my growth as a person of faith." It takes a village to heal. You can be a part of the process for those who hurt. Friends who listen are often better than professional counselors. But don't push. Allow a person the dignity of privacy if this is not the time for her to share.

6. Does your hurt come because your mother is no longer living? Then this day is for you! Anna Jarvis began Mother's Day in part because it was important to her to remember and celebrate her mother, who had died.

Angela put it this way. "For me, the key to getting through Mother's Day is not to try to avoid it. I realize there will be sadness, but that's OK. I find it helpful to go through old photos remembering good times, writing something to or about my mom--for myself or others in the family. Once, I made a list of things I received, consciously or unconsciously, from mom. Although I risked feeling really sad, the whole deal ended up as a celebration. And even feeling sad is a part of the relationship, since no one can live forever. I think the fact I feel sad is an acknowledgement of how much I loved and was loved by Mother, since we don't go to the trouble to be sad (or angry) about someone we don't care about. And I was really helped by talking with my surrogate mother figures--anyone who nurtures and supports me."

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7. If you are an adult woman without children, realize you have reason to celebrate, too. A woman like you began the day. First of all, you also had a mother who gave birth and raised you. Celebrate her. And celebrate yourself and the nurturing you do. Times have changed. Being unmarried is finally being recognized as a valid choice with many benefits. Tish Durkin writes in Oprah magazine, "As a maiden aunt, I am not to be pitied. I am to be worshiped."

Margaret, a very classy senior, told me, "I always thought that some day I would marry and have a family, but that day never came. But for me, I have always been happy with the choices I have made, especially since I have felt that I have been where God wanted me to be. But do I feel melancholy or cheated on Mother's Day? Not at all. There are many ways to be maternal. As a teacher and college dean, I have been mother to hundreds."

Let's all celebrate this Mother's Day. Let's be the cheerleader who helps others to celebrate, too.

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