This year, on May 9th, we celebrate Mother’s Day.
It is a day set aside for children of all ages to honor the sacrifices their mothers have made for them over the years and to thank them for their unwavering love, commitment, and devotion. It is an opportunity to recognize all that being a mother requires in order to raise a tiny infant into the human being they are meant to become: midnight feedings, dirty diapers, play dates, field trips, So. Much. Laundry.
It’s also so much more.
Mothering calls for an emotional investment like no other. The joy of watching another human being grow into adulthood is like unwrapping a present little by little and, with curiosity and wonder, discovering what is held inside. Whether we are biological mothers, adoptive mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers raising grandchildren, or any configuration of circumstances that place us in the central role in a child’s life, we quickly learn the gravity of our job. As human beings, the relationship with our mother becomes the foundation on which every other experience rests. From emotional regulation to the ability to attach to other people, so many of a child’s learned behaviors are first modeled for us by our mothers.
This is why being a mother is a stressful job. The pressure intensifies from the never-ending balancing act of managing our own emotions, commitments, and stressors all while under the careful observation of our tiny people who want to grow up to be just like us. Our every word and deed is absorbed and reflected back to us for our own joy and amazement, and often to our own consternation and frustration!
For those of us who have experienced loss related to motherhood, either through the physical loss of our own mother, or loss due to a fractured relationship, Mother’s Day can be so very difficult. If we have lost a child, experienced miscarriage, or have struggled with infertility, we may mourn the loss of the motherhood experience we thought we would have. So although it’s a day filled with joy and celebration, for many, Mother’s Day can also be bittersweet. If you are struggling, I acknowledge the courage it takes to make it through this day. Celebrating abundance while simultaneously grieving loss represents the fragile dichotomy of being human.
As my personal experience of mothering a minor child is coming to a close, I recognize it’s time, once again, to redefine what it means to be a Mom. Motherhood proves to be equal parts joy and sorrow because, from the moment our children are placed in our arms, it is a mother’s job to begin the process of letting go. I wish you all a very happy Mother’s Day, in whatever way you choose to recognize this special day.
Good Mental Health, LLC is a counseling and coaching practice located in St. Johns, Florida, offering individual, couples, and family counseling to adolescents and adults. With sessions available face-to-face and online, we hope to provide the tools and skills necessary to heal past wounds, grow healthy relationships, and build stronger families. For more information find us online at GoodMentalHealthLLC.com.
This article also appeared in the May 2021 issue of St. Johns Magazine.