Navigating the Complexities of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, in theory, is meant to be a day of celebrating the mothers in our lives. In reality, Mother’s Day can be a tricky day for many of us. Motherhood, or lack of motherhood, contains all sorts of losses and complexities about our relationships, our hopes, our dreams, our parenting, and everything in between. The narrow definition of who is considered a mother, along with all the experiences left out of the dominant narrative, can come up on this specific day. For many of us, Mother’s Day comes with a complicated set of emotions and thoughts about motherhood and our identities.
For me, the fact that Mother’s Day exists without my mother is still painful, 7 years in. In the past, it has been a day of celebration, gratitude, confusion, and grief. And sometimes all of those feelings layered together. My kids soothe my soul with their sweet homemade cards and the kind, thoughtful ways they express their love. And even in the middle of all the sweetness and love, it’s still a disorienting holiday.

On Mother’s Day while I was pregnant, I found out the gender of my twins. Straight from the ultrasound, I drove 2 hours to my mother’s doorstep and collapsed into her arms, telling her I was going to be a mother to 2 daughters. It was one of the highlights of my life.

My first Mother’s Day after birthing my twins, and as a recovering Virgo perfectionist, my expectations were high. I was a MOTHER. I had birthed TWINS. I deserved a parade. My kids were too young to do much other than gurgle at me, so it was on my partner. And he had nothing planned. When I spoke my truth, my frustration that he hadn’t considered me, he looked at me with total sincerity and said, “But you’re not MY Mother”.
As Mother’s Day rounds the corner, I’m better prepared this time around. I know it’s an emotional landmine for me, so I’ve put some thought into how to best approach the day.

Here are my five suggestions for crafting
a meaningful and intentional Mother’s Day:

  1. In anticipation, reach out to the women in your life who understand and validate your experiences with motherhood. Find those people who are a soft place to land in their support and non-judgment. Allow your circle to support you, and create scaffolding around this upcoming day. This circle can also include professional support like a therapist.

  2. A few days before, start thinking about your needs and articulate those needs to the people you love. I learned the hard way about swallowing resentment – it always comes back up in another form or behaviour. No one in our lives is a mind reader, no matter how many hints we drop. Articulating needs is a huge part of setting and maintaining personal and emotional boundaries.

  3. On the day of, consider limiting your time spent on social media channels. Shoutouts and the outpouring of love to mothers are beautiful, but turning down the volume on them can support you in navigating your own experiences. 

  4. If navigating a recent loss related to motherhood, think about how you can honour that loss. This might include bringing in the senses (e.g. a scent that reminds you of the person, setting up a small altar of possessions or photos that are important to you). I sometimes hold my mother’s ashes, keeping them in my pocket or close by for the whole day. One Mother’s Day, I brought her ashes in my pocket and they sat with me on a blanket as we watched my kids’ soccer game.

  5. Offer yourself the practice of self-compassion. To me, this simply means finding ways to give ourselves the kindness we extend to others. It might include writing ourselves a love note, taking ourselves out for coffee, or simply sitting in stillness. 

As Christine Organ writes in her essay Sometimes Mother’s Day is complicated – just like motherhood. (2022), this is a reminder that Mother’s Day is just a day. There is agency in deciding how you spend it. To anyone struggling with the upcoming Mother’s Day and its complexity, I extend permission for you to have love, gratitude, meaning, yearning, sadness, grief, loss — all of these feelings (and many more), mixed up into one complex experience, just like motherhood itself.


Organ, C. (2022, April 26). Sometimes Mother’s Day is complicated – just like motherhood.

Written by Kate Love,RP(Q)
Registered Psychotherapist (Q)
Kate Love (she/her) is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) working with Bloom Well Therapy. Her goal as a therapist is to bear witness and create spaces for her clients to process, heal, and thrive. She loves writing and sharing her insights into mental wellness.

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