This is just a short note ahead of Mother’s Day to say that whatever you’re feeling this year, it really is OK.
Most of all, whether you’ll be enduring social obligations through gritted teeth, pretending the day doesn’t exist, or joining in and celebrating at long last, please don’t feel guilty. When I asked people over on my Instagram page how they were feeling ahead of The Day, a recurring theme in the replies was guilt. Guilt over dreading the day. Guilt that they couldn’t engage more. Guilt because they were ‘bringing others down’. Guilt that they were looking forward to it for the very first time, after years on the sidelines.
You’re allowed to feel how you feel this weekend. You really are.
My own feelings this year are, predictably, mixed.
I can’t help being reminded of how this day used to hit me. But at the same time, I do feel a prickle of anticipation, not dread. Last year, I was still too deep in the fog of new motherhood for Mother’s Day to make much of an impression, but this year I can sense – dare I say it? – potential enjoyment? I feel grateful to be where we are. And now that parenting feels a little more familiar, it is a less complicated gratitude, too. It will be nice to have a moment to celebrate that.
This said, it will be an off-line celebration for us. There are two (main) reasons for this. Firstly, I still cannot bring myself to participate in the kind of social media activity that I know used to hurt so much; that, actually, I used to use as a kind of self-harm. In the past, before I knew if I would ever get to be a mum, I would treat Mother’s Day on social media as a kind of endurance test – for some reason, I felt I should be able to deal with deluge of posts. So I forced myself to look. And look and look. There seemed to be a part of me telling myself that if only I was a better person (stronger, less self-pitying, more positive) I would be able to handle it; that I wouldn’t feel the roiling envy and sadness – that I would just feel happy for other people.
The second reason, is that although I feel a lot more comfortable in my new role of Mum these days, I still struggle with whispers of anxiety around whether I am cherishing it enough – whether I am making this time special enough (for myself, for Edward, for Dan). And social media does not help with this, especially on mandated special occasions like Mother’s Day. It’s a sure-fire route to compare and despair. So off-line it is.
My relationship with this particular day has shifted since I started writing this blog. Every year, my feelings have been slightly different. Every year, I’ve been confronted by something else. And every year, I’ve learnt something. It took me years to feel comfortable with understanding what I felt during the pregnancies I miscarried as belonging to motherhood; mother love (as I wrote about here). It also took me years to learn to properly protect myself on this particular day, as well as in the build-up and in its wake.
So, this year, whatever you need, whatever feels right, please do it. Guilt-free.