Off the Couch

Thoughts about the therapeutic process, and the dynamics of client-therapist interactions.

Why Mother’s Day is the Worst Holiday Ever

Mary* has a great relationship with her mother. But she gives into her husband’s request that they take his mother out for lunch, since she’s alone and he’s an only child, and Mary's mother has her husband and all of Mary’s siblings. But her mother’s feelings are so hurt that she won't get on the phone when Mary calls to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. What can she do? Read More

I loathe Mother's day

I can't make a comment as it would be to complicated, (bizarre & surreal) how my mother, & father damaged my life. But I wait for Monday for this dreadful Hallmark Holiday to go away.

Which is more dreaded? Christmas or Mother's day?

That Makes Two of Us

I hear you, Anon.

The only thing I can celebrate on Mother's Day is that my late mother is no longer around to shower me with pure hatred and contempt.

not being a mother

I don't like the day because, for medical reasons I can't have children. I always though I would. I always wanted to. But I can't. Mothers day just pushes this into my face. And it would be so much worse for mothers who have miscarried or had still born children, I can't imagine the pain.

adopt? biological is the

adopt? biological is the cheap way ;)

it's okay!

I had many miscarriages along with three children. I understand the pain of a medical reasons to not have children. It hurts: remember you have options: adoption: foster parenting that may turn into adoption. I know these choices are expensive and hard to do emotionally. It is your choice and your right. If you have relatives with children; see if you can "borrow" them for a day. Their parents may appreciate it and you can let all the love inside you loose on those children :)

Thank You

Thank you for this column. It says things simply that are wise and rarely acknowledged. As someone who has an atrocious mother and mourns not having been in a positive enough situation to have had my own biological children -- partly because of decades of dealing with the fallout from my childhood -- I appreciate hearing that motherhood doesn't make you a good person and not being a mother doesn't make you a bad one. This is true but almost never stated in our culture! I wish more people realized and acknowledged it.

I also deeply appreciate reading that motherhood is not the most fulfilling thing you have ever done. This is something most women would never acknowledge aloud, and certainly not in print (although I've seen a lot of this sentiment in online anonymous motherhood support groups). It is nice for those non-moms among us when motherhood isn't put up as the be all-end all of happiness. Many thanks.

Why Mother's day is worst day yet.

I dislike this day too because of an abusive mother. It is very aggravating to see her showered with all that positive stuff when I know her to be a very different person, even now, as she is still making excuses. I hate having to deal with the concept that you should respect your parents no matter what, specially when they are the ones that causes the friction in the first place. Cant wait to not have to deal with family get gatherings that focus on her.

I Thought I was the Only One

How can you celebrate Mother's Day if your mother abandoned you??????????? This is true because my brother in law who doesn't know much about me yet asked about my mother because of this STUPID consumerist day. And I told him that wendon't speak to each other and he was shocked. Talk about a can of worms!

My husband doesn't care

This is my first mothers day as a mother - and my husband did NOTHING. Not a card, or a gift, or breakfast in bed etc. I've just taken the bins out to, because he's drunk in bed (a high-functioning alcoholic. He said he 'doesn't buy into the hallmark holidays' and whilst I'm inclined to agree with him, it would have been nice to receive some acknowledgement. We don't buy each other expensive gifts, but seriously, how hard is it to make a card? Just something to know that he thinks I'm doing an ok job as a mum.

I'm trying not to feel sorry for myself right now, but tears are pouring down my face. My little girl is asleep - she is truly the greatest thing in my life - and right now I'm trying to work out if I should leave him or stay, for her sake... I'm sure I wouldn't be feeling this way if it wasn't mothers day.

Leave him. Life it far too

Leave him. Life it far too short to put up with someone. You'll be better off alone than with someone like that. Leave no trail.

If you allow a

If you allow a high-functioning alcoholic to help raise your daughter, that will only make things worse for her, not better. Get out now.

If he treats you like this on "Mothers Day" how are the other days?

It is hard to make a decision to divorce when you have children. Healthy moms make sacrifices for their children; please do not sacrifice your life to your husband. I know it is hard. Going through a divorce will be hard. In the long run? Better for you and better for your daughter. If you are not working; find a way to put aside money. If you have a family that supports you in your decision; go to them when you file. The most important thing you can do for your child? Document each day from this day forward. Write down your feelings and hopes and dreams. It can be used in divorce proceedings. Love yourself; love your daughter and make plans for divorce. Don't point fingers; he's already good at that.

There are many people who are posting today who understand your sadness, pain and conflict. Happy Mothers Day! Everyone who reads your post loves you! Just for good measure? Happy Mothers Day to infinity! <3

Thank you for this lovely

Thank you for this lovely reply. My parents divorced when I was 8 and it was (as expected) the defining moment of my childhood. The impact of their divorce was profound - from my father remarrying a socio path to the poverty that my mother faced. These thoughts spin around in my head as part of the decision making and I wish they weren't there. In my heart of hearts I do not know how this marriage can continue. Someone else asked 'how does he treat you on other days?' the answer is 'exactly the same'.

After working with children with Asperger's syndrome I can't help but wonder if that's the explanation for his emotional absence, compounded by alcohol. I always thought he was a 'man's man', but am beginning to wonder if it's just a complete lack of awareness of others around him.

Thank you for sending such positive thoughts my way on Mothers day!

They're right. Life is too short.

I was with my alcoholic h for 14 years before I found out he was cheating, 18 before we separated, and 21 before the d was final. My 2 kids and I don't have a relationship due to his manipulations. I WISH I could could go back and save myself YEARS of pain. But YOU can. Be strong. Look up DIVORCE CARE and go to the meetings. Lean on friends and don't try to go through this alone. Know that you are doing the right thing for you and your child. I'm sorry it went this way for you. But you have so much life to live. In five years, this will be a speed bump in your past. If you wait too long, it will be more of a mess for everyone involved. Best of luck and love to you.

Hard time

Hi -- This is a hard time in the life of any couple -- the first years of parenting can drive a huge wedge in even the best of relationships. Can you try to remember some of the reasons (the good ones) that you are with this man, and that you decided to have a child with him? Then, with those thoughts in mind, see if you can find a quiet time to sit down with him (preferably when he has not been drinking) to talk about what has happened in your relationship. Ask what happened for him, but also try to tell him how much you miss the good times you had, and how hard it is for you to feel like you're having to be the only parent to your daughter. You might take a look at my post of a few weeks ago on how to get what you need from your partner for a few pointers. Try to be clear and straightforward about what you need from him, without blaming or attacking him. And ask him to do the same with you -- no blaming or attacking. If he can't do that, then end the discussion and tell him that you'd like to continue at another time. But then do come back to it. In my opinion, many good relationships go down the tubes because couples think they aren't supposed to keep coming back to the same issues over and over again. I actually think that most couples repeat many of the same arguments throughout their relationship. This doesn't necessarily mean that there's something wrong -- it's just that we all have certain needs and conflicts that have to be re-worked until they're figured out.

If nothing helps, then what about seeking counseling -- for yourself and your husband if at all possible, and for yourself if you can't get him to come with you. Again, the first years of parenting are often the hardest, and it's often very useful to get help getting through it -- for the sake of all three of you!
Best of luck,


LEAVE HIM it will only get worse as he drinks his life away.

It will NOT be any better next mother's day and your child

doesn't need to be around that, I was married to a worthless,

violent drunk and got out as soon as I could.


You are an amazing mother.... Tell your husband how you feel, he may be receptive. If you don't tell him your thought process you aren't giving him a chance to make it right. Of course you feel this isn't necessary, and in a perfect world you're right it isn't. But it could be an opportunity to change the future.

Scattered Children

This is a difficult year for me to celebrate Mother's Day. My mother passed away years ago, I have two sons and a granddaughter. I know my children love me and I love them. My oldest Son is very much into his career. He is an entrepreneur and has many deadlines. He'll probably call me and wish me a happy mother's day and tell me that he loves me. He lives an hour away and traffic is bad this way, but to me that seems like excuses and frankly I start thinking about what I did wrong as his mother. My other son is incarcerated far from me, he wrote me a beautiful letter and will probably call me to wish me a happy mother's day as well. We have a 9 year old granddaughter who's mother is jealous of me because of the bond we have, so I won't hear from her. So it's just me and my totally supportive and loving husband. I am so thankful for him, we have been married for 35 years. With all that said, it's hard hearing about all the big parties etc. going on all around me. Any suggestions as to how spend the day without getting too emotional?

Not so happy

I'm crushed. I just talked to my daughter who lives 900 miles away. We talk daily while she drives to work. This morning she talked about how she and her sister-in-law pooled there money together and bought her mother-in-law a gift for Mother's Day. I didn't even get a "Happy Mother's Day" greeting from her, when we were talking. Am I being petty and melodramtic?

To: Not So Happy

Yes, you are. Be happy your daughter talks to YOU every day and she shows respect to her mom in law in some way on mom's day. She already knows you both have a great relationship, let her focus on someone else who needs a couple kisses on one day a year. For pete's sake, you have a daughter who spends an inordinate amount of time speaking with you every single day; be grateful you raised a daughter who is kind, respectful and caring toward others.

Born to a mother, but don't have a mom

My mother emotionally disconnected herself from me about 3-4 years ago when I came out to her. Since then, she has made zero effort to get to know me further, and refuses to acknowledge that I have a loving partner that wants to marry me. She even posts and likes things on social media from the NOM like, "share if you think marriage is between one man and one woman." She follows her bible's teachings as she sees fit. The whole "hate the sin, love the sinner" bullcrap is her mantra. Frankly, I don't see how a mother can not love everything about her child. "Flaws" included. I'm a happier person because I chose to be honest with myself--something she told me to do. The irony is profound.

Last year she didn't wish me a happy birthday, so I'm just assuming that I should cut my losses and move on with my life without her in it. It's hard to grieve for a living person. The problem is, I have a semi-ok relationship with my father and a decent one with my sister. I can't just ignore my mother when at family reunions. I refuse to back away from my accepting family just because my mother chooses to be narrow minded.

I want a relationship with a mother. I would have preferred it to have been my own mother. I'm kind of at a loss on what to do.

Basically I started this rant because I can't stand Mother's Day. It's just a reminder on how unfair it is for some people.

Another disappointment

Every year I think, he'll remember me this time. Every year I end up with hurt feelings. There is one day a year that is exclusive to me as a mother and my own child doesn't feel the need to make me feel special just once. It's the same for my birthday and Christmas. He just doesn't care that to me it means a lot. Even if he got me something now, he's ruined it forever because I know he's not doing any of it because he wants to make me feel special, he'll be doing it because he feels he has to and that there is why I'll never get anything special from him and that really hurts.

I am totally with you - I

I am totally with you - I have the same problem. If I say anything he says he didn't know what I wanted. If I do tell him what I want, he might do it but then it just feels fake to me. Year after year it's the same thing. So i have decided this year when his birthday rolls around, I will "forget" it.

Don't Be Like HIM

That's right, turn on your best instinct, be like HIM. Are you getting him birthday gifts because you want to or because you want him to remember you on your birthday? Showing a person that you are like them is not smart. If you don't feel he appreciates the gift, then don't get him one, just send a card. Why go against a kindness inside of you just to prove a point to anyone? That won't change them. Boys and men really don't have a clue as to what a woman expects; they think different. Most would like a hint so they can feel appreciated - just think of it this way. You don't tell him what you like and tell him you'd like anything. He buys something he likes and when you receive it, you detest it. He did not purposely go out and buy something so you would feel worse; he tried to buy something so you would know he cares about you. Why do women always have to 'evaluate' the gift? Just think of how they feel when a 'gift' means more to you than the fact they took time to get one at all just to show you are special.

To: Another Disappointment

Face it, you raised a self-involved, narcissistic human. Don't suffer any longer, do a 'about-face' and do something for yourself and have some fun. If thoughts come into your mind about all that, just say "he has his life now, and I have mine back."
Just because he is your child doesn't mean anything; they are just like everyone else on this planet, made up of eons of genetic material inherited from who knows whom and you did not have any idea he would turn out like this - it's the way it is, and that is life. Be stronger, focus on what brings happiness and joy into 'your' life, know you did your best with this child, and concentrate on bringing joy into the lives of others who will appreciate you.

I feel your pain!

You are not alone. Every year on Birthdays, Christmas and Mother's Day I try hard not to have expectations so I am not disappointed and hurt. No matter how much I tell myself this, I'm still hurt when the holidays roll around my family doesn't feel the need to do anything for me. I've spent my life taking care of them, birthday presents & parties, school events, volunteering, Christmas, holidays, trips and adventures and it seems they can't take 5 minutes to appreciate all that I do. No Happy Mother's day, no gifts, no mention at all of anything and then they get mad when I feel bad and cry. It isn't the example I've set, I go out of my way to buy gifts for everyone, they help me shop for a gift/card for my mother every year. Where did I go wrong? I know it's too late to change it but it still hurts. I think social media has made it worse - hearing how spoiled my friends and family get from their families, having my colleagues and family inquire how my day was did my family make me feel special. I little piece of me dies each birthday and mother's day but I'm not going to change who I am or what I do for others.

when I was a single mom it

when I was a single mom it was easy to not be hurt when my two children couldn't celebrate Mother's Day because they were little, and I told myself they would do special things when they were older. I still packed them up and went to MY Mom's house to celebrate the special day in her honor. By the way, my mother was a functioning alcoholic who made plenty of my days a misery but she was still my mother and out of respect for all she DID do, forgetting for one day all the bad things we celebrated this day. I raised all three of my kids with my second husband, my youngest is graduating in three weeks and where am I today? Sitting at home alone. My point? It doesn't matter how hard you work as a parent, it won't matter...Mother's day is just another day.

Still blamed for divorce...

I knew 15 years into my marriage that my husband did not love me; there was a lot of verbal abuse and I believed him. One afternoon, he pushed me down the stairs. I was so naive. I didn't want to divorce him because of how it would affect the kids. What I didn't know was that he was planning a divorce and planned to use the kids. I cried when I found out. It devastated me. He left, closed all the bank accounts and left me out in the rain. I had no money and no one to turn to for help. The divorce as horrific. He used his money to drive me into the ground. He was the breadwinner. yes, I supported him in his job and raised the kids. The damage I tried to prevent from happening to my kids was happening. My ex-husband did use them to hurt me; he also used them to side with him. He had money; I did not. I gave my life for my kids. I am in contact with one. They other two do not acknowledge me. I prefer that this particular day not be another "holiday". I still wait for contact from them. It's weird. They turned into the horrid mold of my ex-husband. I know it's something I need to get over...but for some reason, I wait for a text or phone call. I'm putting my phone on mute for the rest of the day. The flip side is that once I turn off that phone, I will not have false expectations. I have also just graduated from college. I do have other things to look to! However, I still wish "Mothers Day" didn't exist. Mothers should be honored every day; not just one day of the year. I did have an abusive mom and raised my kids with so much love! It was fun every day. I was there for them whenever they called. So, in many ways, it is on me...sorry kids....I did my very best for you...I want you to be happy....I had to file for divorce....he pushed me down the stairs....I know you don't believe me even when the doctors forced me to call and report it to the police. He was issued a restraining order from the police. It didn't stop his words. I am so sorry; I think it is time for me to pretend you don't exist; never were born; anything to stop from still loving you.

Thank you for the opportunity to write in this forum, along with other wonderful Moms! This is a long write up. I had something bottled up. Thank you all for supporting each other..It's cool and a loving thing to do.

Always Sad on this Day

About 12 years ago I experienced a traumatic stillbirth.....a baby boy. I was 20 years old when this happened. Over the years I have grown fearful of having children.....and still have not became a mother though I've been married twice. I have a loving husband who has a son from a previous marriage so he is not pressuring me to have a baby, but I've noticed that all year long I Don't want to be a mother......except on Mothers Day. I guess it reminds me of my loss and how torn I am about motherhood. My mother was somewhat physically and verbally as an adult working as a MH professional I realize my mother has a un diagnosed mood disorder and she has her own issues with her I'm very forgiving of how she treated me as a child. I just hate this day.....but no one knows how much I struggle with this day.

I hate mother's day

My ex has taken my sons physically (primary custody; I had depression and was too overmedicated and intimidated to fight him.) And emotionally (he has driven a wedge between us.) I cannot have a relationship with my older son because he has been taught to disrespect me to the point of abuse. Second son is coming along down the same path. My heart is broken, and I can't stand this day. I just want to sleep through it and then I don't have to face that they didn't call, send a card, don't love me. I have to place my energy in people who love me, to preserve my sanity.

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F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W., is a psychotherapist, teacher, and author in private practice in New York City.


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