What to do When Mother’s Day is the Hardest Day of the Year

The Mother’s Dream

The Mother’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many women, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.  Perhaps you are one of these women who have little to no contact with your child, outlived your child, tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child, or lost your child through a miscarriage or abortion.  Just the mention of Mother’s Day brings to the surface the emotions you have long tucked away of disappointment, deep sadness, distress, dejection, and despair.

Yet you are torn because in many ways you have learned to move forward.  You avoid the crowded churches, shops, and restaurants on Mother’s Day, spend time with other mothers or your mother, or even remind yourself how grateful you are to have had a child.  But the heaviness in your heart is still there and despite the good moments of the day, you really can’t wait for the day to end.

Will it always be this way?  Yes and no.  Much like other holidays which exist for the purpose of remembering the lives that have been lost such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, Mother’s Day will be for you a memorial of sorts.  It is a day to remember what was lost or never even gained in the first place.  But just as the anniversary of a person you lost brings back memories and feeling, over time, the emotions won’t be so intense.

How can I survive this day?  Reserve a portion of your day for the purpose of being alone with your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t take the entire day to do this or pretend that you don’t need to do it at all, instead take care of yourself and give yourself a gift of remembrance.  This is a good time to journal your thoughts, allow the tears to flow, and pray.  Then choose to spend your day surrounded with people who love you and are sensitive to your feelings.

What do I say to others?  Be honest.  If you really want to go somewhere on Mother’s Day, speak up; if you don’t, say so.   If you are sad, don’t pretend that you are not.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others instead of assuming they already know what you are thinking or feeling.  Then communicate those expectations kindly to minimize the hurt feelings later.

Why am I having anxiety over this now?  Even if your loss occurred many years ago, you might find a sudden resurgence in your emotions this year compared to previous years.  While the intensity may be less than the initial Mother’s Day, for some reason, this year is hitting you harder.  This is perfectly normal.  Take a moment to reflect on your life and see if there is any new circumstance lately in a relationship or your environment.  Your increased anxiety may actually be misplaced anxiety over new things that you are not properly addressing.  By addressing the new things, the old issues will subside again.

Everyone has hard days during the year that are more difficult than others to get through.  Mother’s Day seems a bit crueller because everyone else appears so happy.  Just remember that you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, many other women feel the exact same way and sometimes it takes the courage of one person to say this is a hard day to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What a Pain in the Back!

It was sometime during my 7th month of pregnancy with our third child that my husband found out he would be gone six weeks prior to our child’s expected birth and for six weeks following our child’s birth for a job.  Having the foresight of two prior pregnancies and knowing that my mother could not stay for an extended time, I asked for my mother to come stay with us after the birth.  But before the birth was another issue.  Our oldest child was three and he had more energy than the entire family combined multiplied by two.  He had two speeds, go fast and sleep; there was no in between.  Our second child did not have the high energy but was a bit colicky even after turning one.  She always knew what she wanted and most of the time it was mommy.  Both pregnancies were high risk due to the premature birth of our son and the early labor pains of our daughter, so by default, this pregnancy was high risk as well which meant additional doctor’s visits with the kids trailing along.

Now, I’m 5’2” on a good day with a very short-waisted so all of my babies stuck straight out making me look like I had a beach ball inside my shirt more than an unborn child.  My posture was forced to change, I could not sleep on a flat surface because I literally could not breathe, and I was often carrying around one of the other two children if not both from time to time.  On top of all that, I was exhausted trying to keep up with our son and managing our daughter’s crying bouts.  The only relief that I had been my husband coming home at night to help out with the kids and now he was going to be gone.

The back pain was the worst I ever had in my life even after having gone through two car accidents that damaged my back.  I could not take pain medication because of my high risk pregnancies, the chiropractor was nervous about continuing treatment so close to the expected date, and over the counter medications did not work with my history of ulcers.  So I had to learn how to manage the pain without the help of any medication, without the ability to lie flat (I slept in a La-Z-Boy), and in between caring for the kids.

Take a load off.  Just getting temporary relief from the pain was helpful and restored my energy levels back to my new normal.  While heating pads helped at home, the largest difference was going to our neighborhood pool for at least an hour a day and just standing in shoulder-high water.  The kids loved to play in the pool and armed with extra floatation devices to put my mind at ease, I was able to get the weight off my back.  The water took the pressure off my back and for an hour a day my back felt weightless.  On days that I could not go to the pool, the garden tub we had been helpful but did not provide the deep relief because my stomach stuck out of the water.  Taking a load off my back did help to relieve the pain and taught me the importance of caring for yourself so you can care better for others.

Ask for help. Ok, I admit it, I’m not the type to ask for help or admit that something is too much for me to handle.  When my husband first told me about the job I encouraged him to take it and never once asked him not to see the job through to the end.  I did not want to be the reason he did not do something that he really wanted to do, so I dealt with it.  My husband, concerned about me and knowing that I would not ask for help, had two friends of mine come over to help several nights a week.  They would come over, take care of dinner, watch the kids, and let me take a break in my bedroom.  I’m grateful for them and my husband and somewhere along the way I learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  Allowing others to help literally carry your burden can ease the back pain.

Get some rest.  Sleeping on a La-Z-Boy night after night is not the most restful sleep but it was far better than not breathing or waking up to the circulation being cut-off in my arms and legs.  Having two young children taught me many things, one of which is to sleep when the kids sleep and the second of which is to value rest above sleep.  I honestly do not think I knew what rest meant, to me to rest was to sleep, but my kids taught me otherwise.  I learned that rest means relaxing, stopping what you are doing, letting the dishes pile up if necessary, watching a favorite kid’s TV show, or just observing them playing.  These simple things reminded me that rest does not have to be sleep and resting can alone ease the back pain.

Finding relief for back pain is not a fixed formula.  Sometimes the pain is because of a physical problem and sometimes the pain is because of an emotional problem.  In my case, it was both.  But learning to take a load off, asking for help, and getting some rest provided me with the relieve I needed.  Oh, and our third child, a girl, was born without any complications, hardly any labor, and with minimal medications while my husband was home for the weekend.  God is good.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.