For many people, Mother’s Day is filled with joy and happiness, as families gather to celebrate the occasion. On this holiday, it often seems that every woman is a mother and every family is happy.
For many others, Mother’s Day can be an emotional rollercoaster, and it can be especially difficult for those whose mothers aren’t living or don’t have children. And it can be just as difficult for women who have experienced issues with fertility, as the day can be filled with dread — and result in sadness or mixed emotions.
Dr. Rayna Markin, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and associate professor in counseling at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She explained, “Every person has different needs and it is important to be understanding and compassionate with yourself. If you anticipate that Mother’s Day might be upsetting for you, it can help to keep in mind that your feelings are okay and valid. You might be angry, sad, lonely, or have feelings of hopelessness. Any, all, or none of these emotions is understandable.”
Markin recommends anticipating how you will feel that day, and consider some self-care.
She advises, “It may be helpful to make a plan for the day in advance and surround yourself with people you feel comfortable with and understand what you are going through.” She explains that “while it is probably unrealistic to avoid all difficult feelings on this day when you are going through infertility having a good support system around you when you do experience conflicting feelings can help you cope.”
What can you do when you have family obligations? On Mother’s Day, you may find yourself attending a family dinner, or celebrating your own mother or sister. It’s always a good idea to focus on those individuals as much as possible, and give them the opportunity to enjoy the day and what it signifies. This will give you the chance to reflect on the special, nurturing women in your own life. However, it’s also smart to anticipate how you will feel to avoid any awkward moments.
Dr. Markin points out that’s it’s wise to be upfront and honest with yourself and your family if you can. She says, “Depending on the day’s obligations, you may want to talk to your relatives ahead of time and tell them that you expect this to be a hard day for you. You can advise them on how you would like them to respond, or what you would like them to say to you (or prefer not to bring up). You may explain that you are not blaming them but this is just what you need right now, as you are going through a difficult time and would appreciate their help and understanding.”
It’s also healthy to try and meditate (if only for a few minutes) and spend time alone leading up to this day as well. Dr. Markin added, “If it feels right to you, consider writing your future child a letter about your hopes and dreams for future mother’s days together. If you have lost prior pregnancies, you may find it therapeutic to write a letter to the babies you have lost. But, again, only if this feels right to you. Everyone is different and in order to cope, it’s important to find the right balance for yourself.”