Mother’s Day Blues

Does Mother’s Day give you mixed feelings? I share about my 4 pregnancies and 2 births below because I can relate.

Do you find yourself sad, resentful, and/or disappointed on this special day meant for celebrating mothers? It’s OK to have those feelings. It’s OK to find joy and grief on this day.

I’d love to hear how Mother’s Day is for you. Is it just one more day in a blur of the stresses of the pandemic? 

For many of us, our feelings are mixed.

Recently I decided to share publicly about my four pregnancies.

I have two children with whom to celebrate Mother’s Day (Sam and Lauren are in the photo above).

Simple math hints at my pain.  

Like you, I have had many reasons for not sharing my painful moments in the past. In this case, one of the reasons is because of shame and fear of being judged.

My journey from parenting disaster to parenting master taught me so many things.

One is that when I share my darkest moments with another person, something powerful happens. Light enters. Lightness and love can follow. Healing happens.

I was such a mess in the early years after having kids. In the year before I took the kids and went to a women’s shelter to stop the escalating physical violence, I finally needed help so badly that I was willing to face my fears about opening up to others. There was nowhere to go but up, as I was already battling clinical depression. Suddenly, others knowing about my problems was the least of my concerns.

Over the next few years, as I started to heal and grow in my ability to navigate my challenges, I learned I was a better mom when I shared my dark, negative thoughts and feelings with others.  

It was such a gift to be stripped of my ability to pretend I had it all together. I hated that fact at the time. Yet learning to share my inner secrets was one of the most transformative experiences of my life.  

In my experience, we need to share our darkest moments, so that the light can transform them. So in that vein, I will share…

the story of my pain and shame from my two pregnancies that did not result in live births. 

I’m not devastated anymore about the fact that I only have two children alive on earth.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have some sad feelings (as I wrote this, I have tears in my eyes, as I pause to think about the two children that I, and the world, did not get to meet).

One gift is that I am very sensitized to the fact that Mother’s Day can be a hard day for many.

That includes mamas whose children:

– aren’t talking to them right now. It may have been years since their child even called for Mother’s Day.

– died after birth.

– are step-children who they helped raise, only to lose touch or dramatically reduce contact after separation from the father. 

– are alienated from them.

And we can’t forget mamas who:

– feel like a failure and like they never should have had children. 

(Many of our small group coaching clients wanted NOTHING more than to be a mom, only to find themselves raging, depressed, fearful and overwhelmed. That SUCKS so bad. I have been there too, and my life’s work is helping as many mamas as possible, not to stay stuck there. To be clear, we work with dads too, and the people who seek out our intensive small group coaching program so far all identify as women.)  

– are struggling hard with sheer overwhelm and are frankly hating Mother’s Day, as they have to be the one to do all the work anyway. I’ve been there too, and it sucks.

etc. etc.

Mothering is HARD. Even if you are in a great place, the day can bring back painful memories, including of your mother. 

For me, I used to have a hidden shame, as well as a less hidden pain, each Mother’s Day, due to what happened with my first and last babies.

Like so, so many mamas, I miscarried a much-wanted child after the birth of my second child.

That was pregnancy number 4, and I knew it was going to be my last. My husband had recently had a vasectomy, so when we got pregnant, I felt it was my miracle baby. 

When I found myself miscarrying after a bike ride while we were on holidays, I was devastated. My tools for dealing with the situation were very inadequate for the job. As well I didn’t have a community of  support to help me to grieve. 

The actual miscarriage was traumatic too in many ways. I physically miscarried in a holiday trailer near a beach where some friends of my husband’s had rented a cabin. I tried to continue on, meeting expectations in terms of parenting.

I recall having blood visibly gush down my leg at one point as I was watching the kids, too far away from a bathroom. I didn’t know to ask for support. It seemed that everyone expected me to just carry on. I was numb inside, and barely functioning. 

What I have shared much more rarely is about my first pregnancy.

Why?

For starters, I was 14. Enough said perhaps?

I still don’t like the word choices that describe what happened. The consent issue included being drunk for the second time in my young life. The young man was inappropriate, but no force was necessary. Back then we didn’t discuss how someone who is drunk can’t give consent. 

I’ve spoken occasionally about the sexual assault. 

What I wasn’t willing to share until recently is that the sexual assault was only the start of the trauma.

The pregnancy that resulted was arguably the hardest thing to move on from.

I couldn’t conceive (ironic word choice I know), of how I could survive the shame of having the child. So when my parents asked me if I wanted to go live with my grandparents in another city, or have an abortion, it didn’t seem like a choice. I was sure that everyone in my small town would know why I went away for a year. 

I was already battling depression, although I didn’t recognize that fact until years later.

I had toyed with suicide, going as far as taking a razor and making small cuts to my wrists.

The night I got pregnant, I got drunk as part of being a lost teenage girl. I got pregnant as part of wanting to be loved and cherished. My parents did the best that they could, but issues including their high stress levels contributed greatly to me floundering. 

Almost exactly 2 decades later, when I lost my 4th baby to miscarriage, I realized that I had experienced many of the ways a pregnancy can unfold.

The tools I’ve found over the years have made a huge difference in how I see many things, including my four births. I have come to terms with my decision at 14. I see my innocence, which includes my right to grieve both of the babies I lost. 

What’s left is the acute consciousness of the pain that many mamas feel, including those who the world doesn’t realize are mamas because they don’t have a child as evidence.

Mother’s Day will always have a poignant aspect to it for me, as I think of my 4 children. It feels right to honor all of my children each year. Each has changed me, and made me a better person, even if in much different ways. 

For a number of years, I’ve had two bonus sons in my life. Life sure can be poignant, can’t it? Although they will never be officially my sons, I appreciate that I’ve been able to give mother energy to 4 living beings.

What’s Mother’s Day like for you? Do you have mixed feelings? Do you love the day, and if so, what is your favorite part of it? 

Please share your comments below. I’d love to hear your story if you want to share, or any suggestions you have for how to make it a good day, no matter what your history is. 

Never struggle alone is one of the latest mantras we’ve come up with at GPS (Great Parenting Simplified Nonprofit Cooperative is abbreviated to GPS often, in part because it signifies the fact that we are meant to be our child’s strong GPS.)

Mamas matter so much. One of our super powers is our ability to help our children, and each other, process emotions. I hope that this post will help you to ask for the support you need, in order to process your mixed emotions if you have them on this special day. It’s ok to hate Mother’s Day. It may be even better though to share that fact with someone who can help you to feel a bit lighter, a bit more loved, a bit more connected to what an amazing thing it is that you are a mother. 

On behalf of all those who you help as a mother, thank you. You are a shero. That’s our GPS term for a female hero, who may look different than the heroes we typically see in books. But make no mistake, the work you do is transforming the world each and every day. Cumulatively, us mamas can and will change the world.    

xoxo

Jacqueline, founder of Great Parenting Simplified Nonprofit Cooperative

Be sure to comment below and share your stories about Mother’s Day. Please share this post with someone else who you think could benefit.  

(With the pandemic making mothering sooo much harder, it seemed like it could be helpful to repost this article from 3 years ago. At the time, I was delighted that not one person wrote in to criticize me. Instead there was lots of love and sharing that the post was helpful.)

Book a free consultif you want support. Myself or one of the GPS certified coaches will be delighted to meet with you to see how we can help. If at the end of the consult you want more support, we have a variety of options. That includes our very unique, transformational year-long wrap around support program called the Inner Circle (the 7th group has just started!). We have 1-1 coaching, a monthly membership program, and other options including a free group on Facebook, to assist you. 

9 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Blues

  1. Jacqueline, as always you amaze me. Thank you for your never-ending willingness to be vulnerable in order to move your self forward and be the trailblazer for others by showing us all that it is ok and necessary to allow the light in, to face the fear, but do it anyway. Sending hugs and love to you!

    But for the Grace of GOD go I…
    My Mother’s day turned out better than I had expected. I’ve struggled with my relationship with my mother and most recently I had lost my compassion for what she is going through with her health among other things. Earlier in the week, as an exercise, I wrote a letter to my mother (she’s blind now, so I didn’t intend to send it to her), because I wanted to express my thoughts & feelings, which thru therapy I am learning that I bottle (and eat) my feelings & emotions, of anger, frustration, sadness and loss. What began to happen as I wrote the letter was I realized that life is hard, mothering is harder and without the right tools and support can be a life long struggle. She has done her best. I realized that what I did learn from her was that I wanted to do mothering differently, not check out when things get tough, but ask for help and support. I am grateful for the path my life has taken and all the experiences I’ve had, good and bad, because I would not be the person I am without them. So when we went to visit on Sunday, I felt a bit of my compassion for her return and I felt a softening and sense of heaviness lift when we left. There isn’t an infinite amount of time we are given, so I will not waste the time remaining with my mother holding on to resentments & creating my own suffering.
    Best to you and the GPS Community,
    Trish A.
    Peace

    1. Thank you sooo much for sharing your story Trish. You are doing powerful work around your mother, as well as your mothering. I have found the two to go hand in hand for sure. I’m so honored to be on this path with you! What a beautiful thing it is when we can see how to shift into a place of more acceptance and grace with our moms. I too have felt more acceptance and compassion for myself as a parent as a result of coming to fully love and accept myself.

      Thanks too for sharing that my sharing is helpful. I can still get the peeled shrimp feeling when I share sometimes, especially in this case because of the delicate subject matter. It’s wild to publicly share that I ended a life. But a lot of light has come in when I’ve shared just that in the past.

  2. Jacqueline, your willingness to be open, honest and raw is truly an incredible gift to us all. It’s so easy to live in shame and guilt. When you share it opens us up to the possibility of sharing our deepest hurts, which as you’ve said is so healing, even of it’s painful in the moment.
    You continue to amaze me xx

    1. Thank you Kelly for your sharing. It is so easy to live in shame and guilt, isn’t it? When we keep our dark secrets hidden, we don’t get to learn that others have similar secrets that seem often equally dark to them. I so appreciate having you on this journey too. xoxo

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. We look up to you because of your courage to be vulnerable and real. You have given me the courage to share more of my story, which has been so healing. I don’t think I knew the details of your miscarriage and how traumatic it was. To take such pain and turn it into a movement of moms who want to do better is so inspiring. Love you!

  4. Thank you so much Joanna! I’m so honored to be able to serve you by sharing some of my darkest secrets. You have been such a key part of my journey. I love how women can grow and flourish that much more when we gather and share with each other. You have helped me to continue to find the courage to share and keep going when times are tough. The last year was very tough for all of us, and your support has been a game changer for me. What a blessing to BE part of a movement of moms who are learning to show up more congruently with how we want to, with our kids and with others. xoxo

  5. Yet another beautiful, vulnerable, inspiring blog. Thank you for sharing the darkness so we can follow in your footsteps and help to let the lightness in. Such insight into how challenging Mothers Day can be for people for so so many reasons and for me now I think I will be having a better perspective on this if I am disappointed by something i.e. I don’t get cards from my stepchildren or I don’t get the present I want etc etc XX

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