I hate Mother’s Day

There. I said it. 

It’s embarrassing to feel this way. I feel terrible for saying it. 

But, why wouldn’t I hate Mother’s Day—my mother died unexpectantly. I had big dreams for us. She would help me raise my children, we would joke and tease my fun-loving husband, we would enjoy long lunches, and we would shop together as she listened to my frustrations over being a working mom. She was my go-to, my constant, my steady support. When life had its ups and downs (and it sure did), she was always in my corner. When I became a mom, I needed her more than ever. 

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So, when the Mother’s Day ads inundate my email and flyers arrive in my mailbox, it stings. It really stings.

I find myself preparing for the days of constant reminders that I am without my mom. Well-meaning friends tell me that I always have a mom and they are right. My rational mind tells me that I have my memories and she lives on in the familiar and sometimes surprising nuances of my children. 

It’s different though—I am selfish on this day.

I want to hug her, feel her, hear her laugh, and see her smile. I want my children to proudly wear her bright red lipstick mark on their foreheads after she wraps them in a huge hug and kisses them. I want the Mother’s Day brunch where she and I, mother and daughter, share in the celebration of mothers.

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My family does celebrate me and I am grateful. I wake to hear them attempting to quietly prepare my breakfast while I am in bed. I pretend to sleep as they tiptoe into my room, and I laugh as they erupt in chatter about their breakfast preparation catastrophes and which hand-made present I will open first. And my husband—my beautiful husband—he knows. And so he does his best to shower me with thoughtful gifts and a day planned with pampering and love. I appreciate it all. I love it all. I love them all.

But, Mother’s Day has never been about me. It’s been about my Mom. 

So, we drive to her graveside and leave flowers and small mementos that my children carefully picked out for their “Grammy Angel.” Their Grammy Angel they would have adored and who would have spoiled them in spite of my objections. 

We will go throughout our day and I will push the sting aside. I will see families celebrating and hope that they cherish the time with their moms. I will see mothers and daughters playing out the dreams I had. On this day, I wish I could comfort myself with some beautiful, meaningful sentiment about how a mother’s love permeates throughout lifetimes and eternity—but every Mother’s Day I am just left with that constant stinging feeling.   

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I know others feel a similar sting—women who want to be mothers, mothers who have lost children, mothers who are estranged from their children, and mothers who struggle with being moms. I think it is OK that we feel whatever we want to feel on this day. So, like many others, I will put on my happy face and get through the day. 

And the sting will be dulled until the next Mother’s Day when we do it all over again.

Laura Domer-Shank

Laura Domer-Shank, Ed.D. is a School Psychologist, Adjunct Professor, and Consultant of twenty-five years who specializes in supporting children and families. Dr. Domer-Shank is also the founder of Brave Embrace, a wellness practice that focuses on empowerment of adolescents girls. She is the wife to Neil who is an educator and coach and together, they actively parent their three children – Cam, Larkyn, and Ella.