Celebrating Mother’s Day When You Don’t Like Your Mom
By: Beth McHugh 2008
You can’t miss the occasion of Mother’s Day. Advertisers refuse to let us. Wherever we turn we are bombarded with loving images of mothers and babies selling giftware from flowers to facials, and everything in between. But what happens if you don’t like your Mom?
There is a huge societal rule that says “everyone loves their mom”. This is so imbedded in our psyche that to admit that you don’t actually like your mother often results in surprised looks, sounds of disbelief or even a lecture. “How could you not like your mother?” the naïve, lucky ones say. Sure, mothers can be overprotective and just plain irritating, but after all “she is your mother!”
Statements such as these can be very confusing if not distressing to women who genuinely do not like their mothers. Of course, having to like your mother is a myth. It means the corollary must be true: That all mothers are lovable.
The truth is that not all mothers are lovable, and some are outright destructive. Apart from mothers suffering from drug and alcohol dependency, there are mothers who are blatantly neglectful, both physically and emotionally.
Take the case of Alicia who suffers from depression. Her mother never once, in all her childhood, took Alicia to play on the swings of a nearby park. The reason Alicia’s mother gave her in later years was that “she just wasn’t interested in taking a kid to a park”.
This example of emotional neglect is just a mere keyhole example of imperfect mothering. Physical neglect forms another area of maternal abuse and leaves its victims reeling in an emotional hell, often for a lifetime if therapy isn’t sought.
So what can you do if Mother’s Day brings only rage and sadness at your own mother? Do you pretend and give a gift? Or perhaps you have long ago cut the mother-daughter ties and ignore the day. And yet, the sadness and anger remain.
First, acknowledge that your mother was not a good mother. Acknowledge your own pain in not having been adequately mothered. There is no replacement for a mother and to not have a “good enough” mother is a serious life hurdle to overcome. Take a moment out on Mother’s Day to nurture yourself, to mother yourself and to experience the pain. But also celebrate your own life, especially if you have a family of your own.
Buy yourself your own Mother’s Day gift. Be your own mother. If you have been unable to get past the pain of your past, treat yourself to some counseling. There is life out there after the experience of a difficult mother, and as an adult, you have all the skills to grasp it and be happy.