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Facing Our Fear Of Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a beautiful time to celebrate loving moms who've invested their heart and soul into their children. We celebrate our moms, and our kids celebrate us (yep I said 'us'. I'm pretending to be a mom). But it is also a painful day for those who have lost a mother, those who have broken/estranged relationships with their mothers, mothers who have lost a child, and women longing to be a mother. This group represents a pretty significant percentage of the population.

Last year, Mother's Day changed from a day I love into a day I loathe.

A few days ago, a friend of mine said, "Rick, you should write an article about Mother's Day. I bet there are a lot of people who would really connect with it." It makes sense, My wife and I have a lot to share about Mothers Day. So I started to write. And then I hit a wall. (Not literally, I've learned from that mistake).

There are two ways those who struggle with Mother’s Day often handle this holiday:

1. We totally avoid acknowledging Mother's Day is happening. "What? I thought all these flowers at every gas station we drive by were to celebrate International Jalapeno Popper Platter Day.”

2. We are overcome with sorrow and anxiety as the day approaches, and stitch ourselves into a sleeping bag for the entire Mother's Day weekend. We might also ponder going to a local card store store and lighting the Mother's Day section on fire...

I hit a wall writing this article because I was in denial. I fell into the category of people that wants to pretend this weekend is just a normal weekend. I've had too many emotional weekends lately; I’d rather just celebrate the opening of Captain America: Civil War, fold laundry, and eat saltine crackers. Getting stuck while writing this article helped me recognize that I needed to slow down and acknowledge Mother’s Day for what it is: a day to reflect on the way love is given and received between mothers and children.

My wife and I no longer have our mothers here to celebrate with. And we are yet to have precious children of our own. But, if we pretend like the day doesn’t exist, we miss out on an opportunity to give and receive love with those around us.

In the first version of this article, I had a list of 5 or 6 different ways we could find new beginnings on Mother’s Day, and I’ll still include those at the bottom of this article. But instead, I want to highlight a couple of love stories (not the Nicholas Sparks kind, those are awful) that can take place if we are open to it.

Last year was my wife and I’s first Mother’s Day without our moms. After church, we went out to eat at a local diner. The waitress is a single mom and she expressed to us how things had been tough recently. We both looked at each other and felt that it was our job to honor our mothers by giving this woman a special gift on Mother’s Day. So we left a good-sized tip and wrote a note on the back of the receipt to encourage her and tell her how valuable she is as a mom, even if she doesn’t feel like it or see the results. I’ll probably never find out how that note affected her, but I know it was the least we could do to celebrate a mother.

As I’m writing this today, someone just messaged my wife and I to invite us over for dinner tomorrow at their family's house. What a special gift. They didn’t need to do that, but they wanted to share their loving family with us.

So, tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I will look at pictures in the morning. I will probably cry. I’ll probably laugh at some of the ridiculous faces she makes in pictures. My wife and I will probably tell stories to each other and hold each other. We’ll go to church and enjoy time with the kids in the children ministry. We’ll still go out and see Civil War after church (HECK YEAH BABY! TEAM CAP ALL THE WAY!) And now we’ll go enjoy a nice evening with a great family who was kind enough to include us in their special day of celebration.

On this Mother’s Day, we are loved, and we have an opportunity to love others. Sounds like a nice Mother’s Day to me.

Some Helpful Thoughts for Mother's Day (and other special days)

Remember your loved ones: We are human and it's ok to cry. We aren't supposed to act like Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2 (insert accent): "I know now why you cry, but it is something I cannot do."

Know your limits: What can you handle? What can't you handle?

This is an opportunity for growth: As your wounds heal and become scars, use them to connect with someone else who is struggling. It will continue your healing journey, and it will help ease the burden of someone else's pain.

Start New Traditions: Maybe there’s something out-of-the-box you’ve never considered that could become an annual tradition.

Perform Random Acts of Kindness: There are so many people struggling and in need of love. What might feel like a simple act to you could be a life changing event to them.

Adopt-A-Mom: Do you know someone else who could use a nice Happy Mother’s Day phone call, text, or card (assuming you didn’t already burn that section down…)

Join The Conversation

How have you handled Mother's Day in the past? With anxiety? Or avoidance?

Has there ever been a time when you experienced love in an unexpected way or performed a random act of kindness to someone in need? Share your thoughts or comments below, or contact me on Twitter @RickGuttersohn

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