Mother’s Day is a holiday I’ve celebrated as long as I can remember – picking flowers from the backyard, making hand-drawn cards and construction paper hearts. This year, the day has a new significance for me, as I am forming a new identity as a mother pregnant with my first child who will be born in a few short weeks. This day has never felt as complicated as it does for me this year, and as I anticipate one of the greatest joys of my life, it brings a new appreciation and awareness for the untidy layers of emotion any experience brings. This Mother’s Day, I am reminded of all of the ways our experiences and feelings can’t adequately be summarized by a greeting card. That for some, what may be the happiest days are the hardest for others.
Creating space to talk about the hard stuff and recognize both the struggles and triumphs being faced by many is how we live out what it means to be “trauma-informed.” For the sake of survivors and those supporting them on their healing journey, it’s so important for us to affirm that it’s OK to not be OK. Greeting card commercials and pop culture present certain ideals about Mother’s Day that you may not find yourself relating to, and that’s OK. It's OK to recognize some of our circumstances, pasts, and family relationships are more complex than they may be for those around us. And the expectation or reluctance that we may feel to perform or react a certain way to an observance like Mother's Day can make up feel even more alienated from our social groups. But the reality is that you are not alone.
That’s why this Mother’s Day, we wanted to create space to affirm and acknowledge that there are many reasons this day can be difficult for survivors and their loved ones. For me, with a little one on the way, it’s an opportunity to model that there’s no one “right” way to feel and that all emotions are valid.
We are thinking of you this Mother’s Day:
- Survivors who were abused, neglected, or betrayed by a parent
- Survivors navigating pregnancy and post-partum as trauma resurfaces
- Survivors experiencing infant loss and infertility
- Survivors who are parenting through their own experience of trauma while trying to create a safe and healthy home for their children
- Parents of survivors who are struggling with how best to support their child
- Survivors who have recently lost a parent or a loved one very core to their support system
- People who identify as women but don’t want to be mothers or feel pressured or devalued for not being a mother
- Mothers who are separated from their children and loved ones because of incarceration or detention
- Children who are separated from their parents and loved ones because of incarceration or detention
- Those whose parents or family of origin have rejected, dismissed, or harmed them
- Anyone whose relationship with their mother or family of origin feels complicated or conflicted
This list is by no means exhaustive. At best, we hope it is a start -- a start to a conversation about the complex and real ways one day can be different for each of us. By creating space for more ways for feeling, relating, and being, we hope we can add more pathways to healing as well. Healing isn’t linear, and tough emotions, hard days, and at times wanting to escape your feelings is all a part of what healing looks like. Know whatever it is you are feeling and needing today, you are not alone.