When Mother’s Day Hurts

As it’s Mother’s Day in Australia today, I am sharing Marie Ennis-O’Connor’s deeply touching “When Mother’s Day Hurts”, which she posted on Ireland’s Mother’s Day this year and has kindly agreed to me reblogging today. Addendum: Unfortunately Marie’s 2015 & 2016 Mother’s Day posts have been taken down, but I have left my response up as I think it still has value. Other relevant posts from Marie are Missing my mother on her birthday, Coping with grief at Christmas and Grief, Loss, and the Cancer Experience.

Marie’s reflections are a poignant reminder that Mother’s Day can be a painful time for many for all kinds of reasons. Some of us will feel conflicted, celebrating one or more aspects while grieving on another.

Marie’s post also reminds me of the power of sharing stories.

Today as I pay loving tribute to the mothers in my life, I also honour my mother-in-law, who died last year, and my grandmothers, who died in 1994 and 2001. And while I celebrate the absolute good fortune of being a mother to a wonderful 14-year-old son, I well remember the difficult and painful years of subfertility and pregnancy losses.

If Mother’s Day acts as a painful reminder for you, my thoughts are also with you today.

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16 thoughts on “When Mother’s Day Hurts

  1. A beautiful post, Jacquie, and thanks for sharing Marie Ennis-O’Connor’s story. Today, I am particularly thinking of friends who have recently lost their precious children, and for others who would dearly love to be mothers.

    • Thank you Melinda. When I first read Marie’s post back in March, I found it to be a very sensitive reminder of the sorrow that the day may bring. I am sure everybody knows someone who may feel sad today despite it being a day of celebration and thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Jacquie and for opening up a conversation about the double-edged nature of these days for those who have lost or who long. M

  3. Thank you so much, Jacquie, for sharing this. The reality that this is not always a happy day for many needs to be brought out into the open. I believe it’s so important to acknowledge and honour sorrow in the same way we acknowledge and honour joy.

    For me, it’s my 16th Mother’s Day without my son. I also have too many friends who’ve lived the death of a child, another friend who suffered 5 miscarriages, and a dear friend who was never able to conceive. There is so much sorrow just in my small circle of friends that comes with this day. As for my own mother, it’s around 20 years since her death. I try not to think of her because she was a cruel and viscious woman, but when I think of her I find I grieve for the mother I wish I’d had.

    Again thank you for sharing this poignant post.

    • Tricia thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Your comment about being able to acknowledge and honour sorrow in the same way we acknowledge and honour joy is very pertinent. We can’t deny the pain of these losses and the years passing doesn’t make them disappear but being free to acknowledge and talk about them is grounding. Best wishes to you today and every day.

  4. Good on you for posting this. It’s a beautifully written and poignant reminder that Mothers’ Day for many is another day of grief, when women, in particular, are reminded of what they’ve lost or never had.
    When I was growing up, Mothers’ Day was never the happiest day of the year as it inevitably ended with my mother ranting at us kids and Dad because she was spending her Mothers’ Day in the kitchen or laundry, and dinner didn’t pass without a knife being thrown or a plate being smashed. I always felt a sense of guilt for not being a grateful-enough kid, not doing enough, not thanking her enough for all she did for us.
    When my husband and I had our eldest child, I told my husband I didn’t want to celebrate Mothers’ Day, and we never have. As far as I’m concerned, it was my choice to have children and they owe me no thanks. Maybe I feel like this because of the Mothers’ Days of my childhood, but I still believe I’m lucky to be a Mum and I will be forever grateful for the privilege it is to be their mother.

    • Louise, my heart goes out to you for the experience you had, and my admiration to you for taking a stand to do things differently. It is a day heavy with expectation indeed. Although the pain of loss is more tangible, the absence of the relationship one longed for is very real. And you are right – the gratitude for being mothers ourselves is something that we can remember every single day, not just this one.

  5. I try to treat it as if it’s a day like any other, but the truth is, I just wish it would pass so I could get on with normal life again. (Only 8 1/2 hours to go!) By the way, it’s good to see you blogging again!

  6. Lovely post, Jacquie, and thought-provoking comments. A bittersweet day for many.

  7. Beautiful post Jacquie. Thank you for sharing!

  8. It’s just now Mother’s Day in the U.S. and Canada. My own mother, in a nursing home in Canada, doesn’t remember who I am (her dementia), and I don’t have a lot of happy memories of her time as my guardian, anyway (her schizophrenia). I don’t have children, and just mentioned to someone the other day how I felt like Mother’s Day was a day for “other people.” She reminded me that I am, indeed, a mother: I am a mother to myself. I can only live a wholehearted life if I pay special attention to my own (inner) child, and gently and carefully and lovingly parent her. And so I take that responsibility very seriously!

    • What a wonderful philosophy Laura! You have a wise friend. Thanks so much for providing a new slant on how to think about Mother’s Day for those who can’t celebrate the traditional aspects. Hope your day was self-nurturing!

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