Why Mother’s Day Is A Hard Day For Me

Mother’s Day is a time of the year when many people celebrate warm memories of mom with flowers, cards, chocolate, hugs, and laughter, but it is also a day that awakens pain for many of us; whether it is because of loss, infertility, or trauma.

It makes me smile when I see messages that acknowledge that, as mothers, we experience a vast range of emotions on this beautiful -though highly commercial- holiday dedicated to what my daughter called “ the most noteworthy professionin her Mother’s Day Present to me. It is so reassuring that though we have different feelings, or mixed feelings, we can support one another in the journey.

Why Mother's Day Is Hard For Me

Sometimes the ads, the greeting cards, and the social media posts can feel overwhelming and magnify negative emotions. And it is a deliberate choice to be positive, to ignore the constant -unsolicited- reminders of what you didn’t have, and perhaps, never will.

I know it would be unfair of me to say I remember everything about my childhood, but it is sad that I don’t recall one single happy memory with my mother. Not one. All I remember is pain, judgment, rage, rejection, embarrassment, shame, belittling, unpredictability, screaming, hitting, dysfunction, excessive control, isolation, put downs, bullying, patronizing, and violence.

I don’t remember “You’re beautiful,” “I love you‘s” or “I’m proud of you‘s;” only hurtful words, mocking, comparisons where I fell short, or silence that loudly informed me what a disappointment I was.

I won’t bore you with the gory details. To be honest, I’m also sparing myself because on vulnerable days those memories bring me to tears.

In fairness, my mother was an admirable woman in many ways. She taught me priceless lessons and modeled some of the best values I still hold and teach my kids. Through the years, she’s mellowed out, and I’ve learned to understand her more, though I’m sure there’s so much I don’t know and don’t get.

To a point, I can see why she wasn’t able to control herself, and understand she didn’t have evil or malicious intent, like I thought back then. And I feel peace that the mother I knew is long gone, that she has come a long way, and has changed for the best.

Through the years, and my own life experiences, I have forgiven her and learned to accept that she did the best she could. We all do what we can with what we have and with what we know.

Mothers are human beings that make lots of mistakes and I should know. Birthing a child does not make you perfect, and it takes more than biology to be a mother.

moth·er /verb / bring up (a child) with care and affection.

Much of my childhood I thought my mother hated me and I wanted to hate her back. I did a good job of pretending that I did. But I really didn’t. I was angry because I yearned for her attention and affection and believed she purposely withheld it from me. I wanted her to mother me and I deeply knew she wouldn’t. She couldn’t, really.

I tried everything.

I was the perfect A+ student. That didn’t work. But I enjoyed the praise from my teachers and peers.
I did plenty of chores. But I wasn’t any good at them – or at least that’s what I was told.
I said hurtful things back to her. That was fuel to the fire.
I bullied my brother and sister. That is just sad and my heart sinks thinking about it.
I “fearlessly” defied her and tried to hit her back. Eventually she stopped hitting me.

And I continued to be depressed and upset. I felt like an outcast, a burden, a bother, a nuisance, a pest, an insignificant waste of space, like a human target, … like garbage. I didn’t know how to deal with all the brokenness I felt inside.

I wanted to become successful, to prove “I did make it” as a revenge.
I was frequently envious of my friends who had a close mother-daughter relationships.
I blamed myself for my parents’ divorce and I was heartbroken that my dad was gone.
I feared everything she said about me was true… that something was wrong with me, that I was worthless, unlovable, and could never do anything right.
I had sick fantasies of her begging me to forgive her, admitting she was wrong about me all along.

It’s healing to write all of this because I feel I’ve been somehow guilted into silence for too long – mostly by me. Today, I choose to heal and find an outlet for what’s left, because hurting people, hurt people,” and I refuse to perpetuate this plague.

It’s been a hard journey because even through the healing, forgiveness, and efforts to forget, it can be hard to deal with the motherless child within when you experience invalidation. When you’re expected to keep silent and profess admiration, gratitude, like a good daughter should.

“grow up and get over it”
“you should feel grateful”
“stop talking about it already”

I know my story will probably not sit well with some, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay to stop the censorship, speak my truth, and break the unhealthy cycle. Because healing people heal people.

This is difficult, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it, but it’s time to be brave and outspoken, even if my memory, perception, and sanity are refuted with defensiveness. No more being afraid, protecting someone else’s story in spite of my own!

As much as I’d like it to be true that the abuse didn’t happen, it did. And it was not okay. I don’t want my past to weigh me down, yet it is healthy for me to acknowledge all of the trauma I’ve lived through. After so many years of being an unheard and misunderstood punching bag, I know it’s time for me to speak up. I’m done downplaying and concealing the emotional damage.

Keeping quiet because of fear is just like lying to everyone about my bruises, scratches, and stitches. It only makes me feel powerless and ashamed – like somehow I’m agreeing to the lie that it was my fault or that I deserve it. No more!

This is not a blame-fest or an “I-don’t-like-my-mom” declaration. I love her and accept her, whether she owns up to her actions or not, whether she approves or acknowledges me or not, and even when it feels I’ll fail no matter what I do, that I’m delusional, ungrateful, a terrible daughter, a heartbreak, and a disappointment.

It’s a manifesto to myself and to you, that no one’s thoughts or beliefs need define me. I can only control my own life and my motherhood experience. I can praise myself, love myself, and mother myself. And so can you, whenever you need it.

Forgiveness is not easy, and it is not an event. It is a process. And mine required me to estrange myself from her as a teenager to become free of all the bitterness, anguish, and suffering that was poisoning me. I had to give myself permission to cry, grieve, be sad, and angry. To not be ungenuine because I was “supposed to.”

Today, it means honoring and respecting her, while setting much needed boundaries, and applying necessary self-preservation tactics whenever smearing, gaslighting, and
scapegoating may arise.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could’ve been any different. But it doesn’t mean inviting the past into your present or future.” ~ Oprah

Forgiving has meant giving up on the approval, apologies, and authentic expressions of motherly love I was unconsciously obsessed with, and letting go of the expectations of what I imagined the ideal mother-daughter relationship to be.

I’ve made peace with my past and forged meaning. It’s made me into the considerably strong and resilient woman I am today, and for that, I am grateful – even when it’s not so obvious! It takes a lot of work and awareness to move on and heal. It takes great faith.

And as for Mother’s Day, it can be hard at first, but then it’s filled with joy because of the mother I can be. I love celebrating the amazing moms I’ve met and admire through the years, seeing their relationships with their daughters as a model for the connection I now enjoy with my own. Focus on the sweet and not on the bitter.

Psychiatrists say that good mothering is critical to healthy development. The good news is that we don’t need to be mothered by one specific person to feel loved, heard, and understood, “because she was the one who was supposed to take care of me.” You can find mother figures everywhere and you can even mother yourself!

I celebrate Mother’s Day, because I celebrate motherhood. Being a mother is not about giving birth, it’s about giving maternal love. Motherly love is essential, eternal, and ever-powerful.

I am grateful about opposition because it allows us to take any negative and turn it into a positive. You need not let anything hold power over you!

If you are struggling today because of your rough upbringing, know you are not alone, and you are outstanding for blossoming in dead soil, for raising yourself. You are more than enough and you deserve love, attention, and affection. You can find peace and empowerment in raising your own children differently. It is possible to take charge of your life, get past the resentment, put things in perspective, not dwell on the negative, and heal. I am taking steps toward progress… are you?

Is this your story, or the story of someone you know? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below and share it with the moms in your life!

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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83 thoughts on “Why Mother’s Day Is A Hard Day For Me

  1. You are courageous my friend, and I salute you. It is unfortunate that you went through that, but it is beautiful that you’ve grown so much, and learned to heal, to love and be a mother. Moreover, you amaze me on how you lead your life teaching by example. As a coach, there is no greater lesson than the want you teach with your actions. You have inspired me even more. ¡Un fuerte abrazo!

  2. I applaud you for being able to write about feelings that wouldn’t be considered p.c. Some people, myself included, do not have warm, fuzzy feelings and it can really get to you. Thank you for sharing – it truly is inspiring.

  3. Thank you for being so open and honest to share your feelings and discuss something that many won’t talk about. Being a “mother” doesn’t make you a mom and so many have the tile but don’t deserve it. That is why it is so important to be great female role models for all young girls in our lives.

  4. Thank you for opening up to us!!! I myself don’t have a fabulous relationship with my own mother so days like Mother’s Day have always bugged me up until I had my daughter. Now the day is filled with love and joy 🙂

  5. Not everyone celebrates or enjoys mother’s day, that’s definitely a fact. I’m sorry you had to experience such pain during your childhood. And thank you for sharing your story. You’re an amazing woman and you serve as an inspiration to many. Mother’s Day should also be a happy day for you because you deserve it and you have kids that prove that.

  6. Everyday is mother day for me 🙂 I think we are living in a society where everyone judges each other; we should stop judging each other. You are an inspiration for many moms and I think nothing is hard for you 🙂

  7. I admire your efforts into driving yourself into the path of righteous realizations. I must say, that quote from Oprah really got me thinking and I say yes, the past can be used for something else but it’s never a factor for present and future nurturing.

  8. I think this is beautiful. Love can be complicated. You are the woman you are because of everything that shaped you. I am so sorry you didn’t hear how amazing you were every day of your life but you do that for your daughters. I have seen it! Thank you for sharing your truth. You should never be ashamed of that.
    <3
    Traci

  9. What a brave, painful and yet necessary step you have taken on your journey to self healing and even more forgiveness for your mom.

    Sadly lots of people give birth but dont have the “Mothering” trait. Its not earned by right of giving birth. Yes many parents do chastise their children. I stop myself whenever I feel like iam making it personal when I am having a tough talk with my children. We can see the pain and hurt in tehir eyes and should as humans know when we should stop and instead advise, encourage and even show how to get things done! Thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration!

  10. Awww…sending you some virtual hugs! My childhood isn’t sunshine and roses either, so I understand where you’re coming from. When I became a mom, I made it a vow to not make my son experience the things that I went through when I was younger.

  11. I’m still trying to reconcile Mother’s Day – with the fact that I had an abusive mother in childhood (even though I already forgave her)

  12. This is a similar issue with me. I talk to my mom a hand full times in the year now, but for the past several years we haven’t talked at all. With that being said I have a great mother in law, and she would do anything for me! Thank you for sharing your story. It really helped me!

  13. Thanks for sharing, and I can def relate to some of this.. I had a good relationship with my mom growing up, but she is dealing with addiction now, so lets just say it is a challenge.

  14. I can’t imagine having to go through such a story during my childhood. I commend you for making peace with it and moving on to having a happy life with your own daughter.

  15. I’m sure it took a lot to share this post. I bet it helps so many that you’re so honest with your writing!

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  17. A woman like you is an inspiration. Keep spreading the positivism And all people will live happily looking forward.

  18. I can imagine what you’re going through every Mother’s Day. It’s sad that you had to go through that but it’s nice to know that you’ve bounced back from that memory.

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  24. Ms. Elayna, I admire you for sharing your story! You sharing your story opens the door and breaks down the walls for others to share! I don’t celebrate Mother’s day, my grandmother nor my mother are alive, but it’s a whole story behind it. I thank God now, that I can at least smile on Mother’s day now! Thank you for your story, it wholes dear to my heart!
    Thank you my sister, be blessed! ♡

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  27. Thank you for taking the step to post this! My sister and I are often overwhelmed with guilt around Mother’s Day bc we’re “supposed” to find the perfect card (which doesn’t fit) and buy a forced gift. We’re the ones left to feel ashamed because this day brings up feelings of hurt and pain.
    I agree. Forgiveness is a process and we’re on our journey of it. 🙂

  28. First hugs because you my friend are an amazing mother i’ve met your girls and they are beautiful souls. I would never have guessed that your upbringing was so hard because you glow with love and positive energy and it shows in the people around you and your children. I wish i had the strength you do of letting go. My upbringing wasn’t horrible but I have always been compared to my perfect brothers even to this day. My mom lives with me adn i hear daily how wonderful my siblings are adn how she wishes i were more like them even though i am the one taking care of her adn supporting her. It’s hard to move forward when the weight is still there.

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  34. I really love this post and think it is important to remind others of this concept. My mother loved me so much, but she wasn’t much of the “motherly” type either. I am glad I can take that & channel it into my parenting because it was something I needed. Great post!

    Kaitlyn
    http://www.mypostpartumlife.com

  35. Holy crap I’m crying, reading this. It’s so much of my life, so much of my own experience. Mine was a bit different, of course, with variations in the people, the words, the feelings. But so much of it is … everything you described.

    Please don’t ever think that sharing your story was pointless or useless or that it didn’t have an impact. It has had one on me – despite the fact that I am already very open about my own story on my blog. Thank you.

  36. Thank you for sharing such a personal and private post with us. It is SELDOM I see people being so open about important matters as these. Especially on social media, where everybody seem to lead the perfect life. This is one of the better posts I’ve come across, and your genuinity is apparent.

  37. Talking about something like this is the first step. I love to be able to share my thoughts on paper but it is so courageous that you have shared it with all of us.

  38. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. It sad how some mothers mistreat their children when they are the ones are supposed to bring them up. My mother and her siblings went through similar situation. The reason mother’s day is hard for me is because my mother passed away and it is hard to celebrate without her.

  39. My wife has a similar experience, and she actually just happens to have written an open letter to her on my blog if you wanted to check it out! Her mother was a drug addict, who chose a fix over her daugther. And then when she birthed a son, chose him over her. It’s all a mess. And now that we have a son together, she can’t even begin to understand how someone could even do that, because she loves him so much.

  40. I know your transparency have help so many others who have came across your blog. I am sure that their are some who may have similar experiences need to know that they are not alone.

  41. You are a very strong woman for having the courage to share this! I admire this because I know you are not the only one that has gone through this situation and in turn you will inspire others and they won’t feel alone. Your children are blessed to have you <3

  42. Abuse reallly does cause us so much pain, regardless of the form it was issued. It’s important for all of to remember to be sensitive too on the holidays. Not everyone is celebrating, whethter they say so or not.

  43. First off. Thank for being so brave and courageous to share this post. It must not have been easy for you. Secondly, I’m sorry you had to endure such pain. I think the biggest thing to now is completely forgive your mum- easier said than done- but this is for you. Not for her but for you. To heal and to move forward and point all your positive energy to your daughter. Make these ‘childhood memories’ with your daughter. You are a strong woman. Keep up the good work

  44. You know what, you’re right. Sometimes the greetings, cakes and all that positive stuff can sometimes spin into unfortunate feelings. That should not happen!

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