Tech Support

Relationships in the digital age

Dreading Mother's Day? 5 Strategies to Deal with that Sunday

More than twenty billion dollars will change hands in anticipation of Mother's Day but, amid the avalanche of cards, flowers, scented soaps, and other gifts, there is also real pain. Sometimes, Mother's Day hurts.... Read More

I don't know what you're talking about

My mother was wonderful. I will preserve her memory forever.

In fact, with a little quicklime, I'll preserve all of her.

A root cellar will also do

A root cellar will also do the trick, Norman.

I think you are correct

Seems to me that its true that The Mother and Motherhood is practically deified in pretty much all human cultures throughout time, and I think that's not a bad thing, really. I think its good for the survival and health of our species that most mothers are relatively OK, relatively mentally healthy and are loving, good-enough parents.

But truly it does throw a pall of piercing sadness and stress over those of us who were raised by abusive, or negligent, or rejecting, hostile, critical mothers. I like the idea of "Mother Yourself" day; now that my unfortunately borderline pd mother has passed away, I think that's a great way to, at least symbolically, honor the good memories I have of her. She wasn't all-bad, but still, even a tiny amount of poison in a delicious slice of apple pie can kill you.

Nicely put, Annie. The truth

Nicely put, Annie. The truth is that Mother's Day is very very hard for some, as I write and, frankly, as I remember even from when I was a little girl. (My mother always made a point of exchanging my presents, and throwing away the card I made.) If you want to join in for some ideas on Mother Yourself Saturday, please go to my Facebook page:

Even if you're a good mom...

Mother's Day (like Valentine's Day) can also be a very hurtful day for the moms who have never gotten a gift, a card, or breakfast in bed. I have two WONDERFUL grown kids, but their dad never really encouraged them to do anything for me. Now I feel bad for their girlfriends and wives.

I do recall one year when, at the last minute, they decided to cook dinner for me. It turned into a huge argument and I ended up doing the dishes. No thanks.

For men who blow it off with "it's a Hallmark holiday" - well, I think they're just too damn lazy or cheap to do anything.

"Mother Yourself Saturday" is a great idea!

Great article, Peg. In years past, I struggled with finding and sending the "right" gifts. Usually a box filled with items I knew she would love, all beautifully wrapped, always a hand-painted card. And then I had to make the requisite phone call as my mother and I have always lived many states apart. Never did she mention the gifts. I would ask "did you like your gifts". I would get a perfunctory response (mmm-hmmm) and then was forced to listen as she told me what her friends received from THEIR children as well as what wonderful things my brothers had their secretaries send; usually flowers.
Last year was rough. It was the first time I sent only a card and did not call her. And it was not a mother's day card, but a generic card with cats and flowers on it and only my signature. It was the end of a lifetime of pretense. I could no longer pretend that my mother loved me or that she deserved my love in return.
This year, I have not really given this "'holiday" much thought. It used to loom. Now, it is merely approaching and frankly, I do not give a rat's ass one way or the other. It feels great! After reading this article and the other comments, it suddenly occurred to me that at no point in time did my mother ever wish ME a "happy mother's day" as I would, if I had a daughter who was herself a mother. I realize this perspective might sound silly. After all, I am not my mother's...mother. However, it is a general holiday. Commercialized, yes, but my friends wish me a happy mother's day as I do them. My paternal grandmother used to send me a Mother's Day card with a heartfelt message and cash for my child contained within. Then, she would call me, wish me the same again. It is one of the best memories I have of this holiday or of my family, in general. This year, I will be sending nothing to my mother. And I will be instructing my husband to please not remind my own child to do anything special and just see what happens. I prefer "real" to obligation. As usual, I will get breakfast in bed (before I am awake or ready to eat) and flowers from my mate. And I will be grateful that he appreciates my efforts to be the best mother I can be. But it won't compare to the gifts I just bought myself for "Mother Yourself Saturday"; a "smart TV" and a new Blu ray player. These "gifts" to myself will be enjoyed by my entire family, of course, because I am practical-minded. But it was a bold statement for me, especially spending a significant amount of money on myself. The guilt I feel at having spent money on myself in honor of this new holiday will subside as soon as I pay off my credit card. The sorrow that I thought I would feel at having been raised by an unloving (brutal) mother is not emerging. If it does on Sunday, so be it. Nothing a walk in the woods will not remedy! To anyone, male or female, who agonizes over this bullshit holiday because you had or have a mother who did not/does not value you, I highly recommend you follow some of the strategies offered in this article. What might feel, at first, like indulgence will eventually turn to feelings of actual self-worth. In the end, it does not matter a damn what your mother thinks of you or how she treats/treated you---it matters greatly what YOU think of you and loving treatment of yourself will reflect that :-) Happy Mother's Day, Peg!

Totally agreed!

Lizzie B- first off - let me say congratulations for finding this sense of liberation from this compulsion of a holiday and for finding your own personal integrity! Good for you!!

Funny - before I read your comment I quietly resented that my mother has never wished me a happy mother's day. I felt silly thinking that but I think it's the lack of reciprocity or appreciation, or those AWFUL comparisons and long stories about other people's kids, that sting. In my case, she does genuinely thank me - sometimes - but we all know when there's something twisted and unhealthy going on in the relationship...

I know it's harder for older people as they have many real issues to contend with, but I'm really pissed that my parents will ignore my son's 12th birthday next month (like last year; they knew it was coming but it wasn't the most important thing to them), and so again I'll buy him a present saying it was from grandma and grandpa.

I'd cut my parents slack for not celebrating other people's special days but such utter self absorbed bullshit for them to make such a big day about mother's day.

Great Article, Nice to Feel I'm Not Alone

My children recently asked me if Grandma is dead. I don't know how to explain that to a child. It doesn't help that my parents (when they were both still alive) chose to move far away and the cost of visiting for my large family is prohibitive.

I think it depends on how old

I think it depends on how old your children are but I certainly wouldn't lie and say she is dead when she isn't. I'm not a therapist but it's commonsense not to lie. Are you estranged from your mother or is it q question of distance?

I simply told them that, no,

I simply told them that, no, she isn't dead, and we will go to visit when we are able. The reason my children asked is because my mother simply stopped sending cards or letters. So as Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's and Easter rolled by with no little cards or nominal gifts, the children naturally wondered. Mother does, when she feels like it, answer the phone and reads e-mails (although she never comments). Our relationship is almost entirely one-sided. Of course, any distance between us is my fault, because I am poor and so forth. Not interested in cutting off ties with my mother, but I would like to assuage the pain of the relationship.

Interestingly enough, I talked to a woman today who has not heard from her adult children in years. Clearly, there are two sides to every story. Whatever her perceived faults, I think there are almost no circumstances that would call for cutting off ties entirely. There is something to be said for putting on appearances. But I have no illusions, either.

I'm going to respectfully

I'm going to respectfully disagree with you:There are circumstances which warrant cutting all ties. I know this from my own experience, as well as those of others, when the situation is simply too toxic to tolerate. And while it's generally true that there are two sides to every story, the parent-child relationship —even when the child is an adult—is not one of equals.

Great post! Thank You for the wonderful perspective and suggestions!!!

This year I’m out of town for mother’s day, enjoying a view of the beautiful water and great weather with my husband and child.

While my relationship with my mother is not as painful as others here, it's not totally great either – rather complicated, and I’d much rather be in a peaceful place this weekend, with people I love with every cell in my being and who make me feel great, rather than feeling resentment and unease.

I gave my mother’s day gift to her earlier this week (they are 20 minutes from my house so I see them regularly), had a nice visit that day, yet she probably forgot what I got her, and then I saw my parents again yesterday after work (not a great visit as there was family stress, which I handled).

Today my father is asking if I’m coming home early from my weekend trip to visit her for mother’s day tomorrow. I just said no, explaining that we aren’t coming back until late, that is why I gave her the mother’s day present early, and that I’ll see them next week.

I’m having a nice, peaceful weekend, which I really need for my sanity, so why must I be guilted in to cutting that short to see my parents on a specific Sunday in May? These kinds of expectations really suck…especially on the daughter and not the son. Glad there are others who understand…

Worst day of the year

Mother's Day is the worst day of the year for me. My mother abandoned me at birth. My father died when I was 10. Mother did not claim me, allowed me to become a ward of the state. So, once a year I am reminded of how badly I was cheated. I am beaten over the head with the maudlin nonsense that mothers are always there for you, will always support and nurture you, will nurse you when you're sick, blah, blah, blah.
Just a female P.R. Machine....and facebook makes it worse, because all my friends are celebrating how wonderful their moms were...Argh! Makes me understand rage,anger, etc...

I;m sorry that you had that

I;m sorry that you had that experience. But some mothers --not all, obviously-- are wonderful, caring, and there for their children. It's not a PR machine in that sense but it is in the sense that the culture promotes the mythology that women are born to be mothers emotionally, that mothering is instinctive, and that all mothers are loving. That's just not true.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Peg Streep, author or coauthor of nine books, is a New York City based writer currently working on a book about the Millennial generation.


Subscribe to Tech Support

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.