Protective Factors Against the Pain of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day seems to be that one holiday a year where women of all walks of life are divided on their feelings with respect to the day and what it represents. (Similarly with Father’s Day for men.) I have friends who are pampered and tended to on Mother’s Day, their spouse and children doling out what they (as mother) so lovingly dole out to said spouse and children over the rest of the 364 days of the year. Definitely a nice change and something for them to look forward to. Other friends do the same thing on Mother’s Day that they do every other day – take care of the ever-so-many details and pieces that keep a busy home running smoothly (as possible). Other friends and family, including my own mom, despise the day – feeling like the perfect model of motherhood is esteemed so highly that they cannot hope to reach that lofty ideal. I have single-childless and married-childless friends who try to just buckle down and get through the day without an emotional breakdown. In addition, I have other single-childless and married-childless friends who LOVE Mother’s Day and all of the happiness that the day can entail, celebrating their own mothers, loving to be a mother to nieces, nephews, primary children and neighbor children.
Just as each of us have a varied reaction to the day, each of us have varied ways of dealing with the emotions involved, both good and ill.
Among the members of our Childless Mormon Facebook group there are different feelings and responses to the day as well. Just because we are all childless does not mean we approach the day in the same manner. However, no matter how our varied experiences have led us to our childless-in-this-life situation, we all acknowledge pain associated with Mother’s Day.
What can you do to provide a protective factor against the recurring pains which may be associated with Mother’s (and Father’s) Day?
I propose that you remember to take care of yourself. In the LDS culture there is much to be said about service and losing yourself in the service of others; however, we also need to carefully balance that Christ-like service with a healthy self-care plan. You can only give what you have left to give, and by tending your own heart and mind, you have more left to give others. Self-care is not self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is often used as an escape mechanism and to avoid dealing with real or perceived situations/emotions. Self-care is not something you do when you need to get away, but something you should do regularly!
In order for you to have healthy coping mechanisms (for every day, not just Mother’s/Father’s Day) you need to give yourself some acceptance and some nurturance. Look at what you are doing to take care of yourself. There are four basic areas for self-care: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Mental. Each has ways that you can take care of yourself that can make up for any areas you may be weaker in. For example, if you are doing well meeting your physical self-care needs, it may help compensate for your more neglected mental or emotional self-care.
- Eating healthy
- Indulge a little, gift yourself
- Go for walks
- Notice the flavors of your food
- Bubble bath!
- Dress for how you want to feel
- Do things that make you feel like a kid again! Go for a bike ride, a picnic, or color a picture
- Don’t take your feelings out on others
- Turn off the phone sometimes – give yourself the gift of YOU time!
- Avoid, or embrace, being around people (according to your needs)
- It’s ok to have needs and to work to get them met!
- Become less rigid in your beliefs around your value as a woman being irrevocably connected to being a mother (or a man being a father)
- Seek out others who are helpful and supportive. You don’t do this all alone.
- Read a book
- Create a playlist with music that gives you energy and makes you smile
- Don’t run away from the loving Heavenly Father who can support you best – even when it feels like a good way to numb the pain
- Turn to the scriptures for comfort
- The Ensign and Conference talks have been growing more inclusive of all individuals, they can be great places of comfort as well as spiritual growth
- Pour yourself into being an awesome visiting teacher!
- Eagerly fulfill callings
- Take nature breaks or find other ways to connect with our Heavenly Father on more days than just Sunday
- It’s ok to say no when you need to!
- Take part in positive self-talk
- Challenge negative self-talk
- Don’t allow yourself to be in “victim mode” where you believe things happen to you and you forget your agency in how you react to triggers
- Challenge yourself to learn something new
- Develop a new hobby or skill
Taking care of yourself is not selfish, but rather essential. As you take care of the whole you, you are able to move beyond fear and grief into an authentically joyful life where the abundant blessings of a loving Heavenly Father are once again clear in your eyes. He believes in you and has a plan for you. Adopting a self-care plan goes far in developing a positive attitude towards yourself and your place in His plan for you, as well as creating a space in which you can have a truly joyful life.
Desi blogs from experiences in both her personal infertility journey and her professional training as a Marriage and Family Therapist to provide insights into strengthening marriage and easing the grieving process.