Mother’s Day: A Time of Joy or Sadness?

RosesAlthough the media trumpets Mother’s Day as a time for celebration, the fact is that this day is a sad, traumatic, or, at best, an unsettling time for many. For example, some women have lost children, miscarried a child or aborted a baby; some have severely ill children; some are unable to bear a baby while desperately yearning for a child; some are pregnant with an unwanted child. At the same time, many people experience negative emotions (sadness, worry, grief, resentment, even hatred) for their mothers—mothers who have passed away, mothers who are desperately sick, mothers who abused them, mothers who abandoned them, mothers who ignored them, you get the picture. Many wish they could go back in time for a ‘do-over’ with their moms. The list goes on and on.

I fall into a mixed emotion category. I celebrate the fact that I’m the mother of two happy, healthy sons, while memories of my mother still generate sadness.

My mother was a beautiful, brilliant, talented, witty, empathetic, and deeply damaged woman. Emotional traumas from her childhood had left wounds that would destroy her life. As a child, I loved her with all my heart and soul. In those days, she was happy in a new marriage to my stepfather, and her world was full of promise. By my teenage years, that marriage was heading downhill, and she had started to manifest signs of depression and anxiety. Life became chaotic, and I distanced myself with school and friends. When I hit adulthood, I got married and moved away, while my mother’s emotional disturbances grew to catastrophic proportions. An acrimonious divorce drove her over the edge. Unknown to me, she turned to alcohol and prescription drugs, denying any problems and refusing treatment for her emotional turmoil. Try as I might, I was unable to find the right words to convince her she needed help.

On my youngest son’s fourth birthday, I found Mom lying on her bedroom floor, dead of a combination of Valium, sleeping pills, and alcohol. The verdict was accidental overdose. To this day, I cling to the belief that she wouldn’t have committed suicide on her grandchild’s birthday. Whether or not she did, the truth is, she’d given up on life long before she died.

At the time, I managed to stuff down my emotions and cement them over. Hey, I had a husband and two young children, a fledgling career, and denial runs deep and strong in my family. It took twenty years (and much therapy) until I learned to forgive her for killing herself and to forgive myself for not finding a way to save her.

Here’s the thing. Today, I feel gratitude for having my mother in my life, exactly as she was. After all, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. She gave me many gifts. I inherited my artistic talent and a gift for humorous writing from Mom. Because of my mother, I learned how to ‘read’ people by looking beyond their public mask, I learned to admit my mistakes, make amends, and move on, and I found a new passion for personal and spiritual growth. But most of all, I learned that forgiveness, especially of myself, is essential for living a full and productive life.

RosesNevertheless, when Mother’s Day rolls around each year, I still feel an initial twinge of sadness and regret, that is until my sons pamper me with hugs and dinner and flowers.

I would love to hear from you. Please let me know you’ve read this post and tell me how you feel about Mother’s Day.


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Again, I would love to hear from you. Please let me know you’ve read this post and tell me how you feel about Mother’s Day.

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4 Responses to Mother’s Day: A Time of Joy or Sadness?

  1. Shirley Wine says:

    What a thought provoking post … and I couldn’t agree more. I have heard from three of mu children, but sadly all my other children have gone before me …and this also give me immense sadness and pain.

    • Maureen Fisher says:

      Thank you for your kind comments Shirley. I can’t imagine a greater loss than that of a child.

  2. Taylor Fulks says:

    We are kindred spirits, Maureen. Mother’s Day is a very difficult time for me as well. Most of us see it from two perspectives, as a child with a mother, and as mothers ourselves. The two experiences are totally different.

    My childhood was frought with horror from child sexual abuse. Insult was added to injury, as my mother (my protector) knew what was going on, and did nothing to stop it. I spent decades believing I had forgiven her for her neglect, trying in vain to move forward and let the past be just that…the past. But I found that part of forgiveness has to do with remorse, a sense of culpability on the part of the wrong-doer. My mother feels none of that. She still denies that anything happened to me, or her part in any of it.

    So, like you, I get that twinge through my heart on this holiday. I’m the mother of two, wonderful young women, and they shower me with love and friendship. But, I’ve ended any and all connections with my own mother. I’ve learned through this journey that it’s OK to dislike your mother. It’s OK not to love your mother. I pray one day I can truly forgive. Until then, I continue to try to be the mother I never had.

    I wish you a glorious Mother’s Day and peace in your heart, sister! What a wonderful post!

    • Maureen Fisher says:

      Thank you for kind comments and support, Taylor. I can relate to your pain. I, too, hope you find a way to truly forgive your mother. Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the one being forgiven.

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