Are you like my sister who recently posted that she celebrates Mother’s Day the day after when all the hype, cards and running around has settled down? Truly Mother’s Day for many is the day after.
Apparently, the woman who first started Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, did it as a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church on May 10, 1908.
After hearing about this, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day as a national holiday to honor mothers on the second Sunday in May. In the end, Jarvis resented the commercialization that quickly surrounded the Mother’s Day celebration and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.
For my sister, who lost a son to suicide 15 years ago, Mother’s Day is a day for her to just get through. I know she struggles with feelings of inadequacy, guilt and shame that try to wrap themselves around her at times.
For many, when Mother’s Day rolls around we spend time looking at cards that don’t quite fit your relationship with your mother. Deep down you feel sad and ashamed that your relationship with your mother isn’t picture perfect.
According to psychotherapist Terri Cole, who has worked with women for over 20 years, many women suffer in their relationship with their mother as a direct result of what attention and care they did or did not receive in childhood.
Don’t get me wrong, there are no perfect mothers and I acknowledge my failures with my own kids. I am grateful for the relationship I have with my mother now and I am aware of her upbringing as a child which has profoundly impacted her.
She lived in a threatening environment with an alcoholic father. She told me once that her and two other siblings were hiding under a bed because her father, who was drunk at the time, was angry with them. He had a knife in his hand and was searching for them.
To say this fear that her father hated her so much he wanted to kill her affected how my mother looked at herself would be an understatement. She has struggled with this perception and often guilt and shame have manifested themselves in ways that have been hard for her children to understand. Of course, tied in with this was her mother’s inability to protect her children.
For many women, the pain they feel from their unhealthy relationship with their mother negatively impacts how they relate today and most importantly how they perceive themselves.
This is often referred to as the ‘mother wound’.
I am aware that we all have wounds to heal and not everyone struggles with the ‘mother wound’ but if you do, you know who you are.
It impacts the perceptions that we have of ourselves as we carry the words we heard in our childhood into adulthood. Many who were abused verbally or physically will have difficulty trusting those who are close to them. Low self- esteem, lack of confidence and never feeling good enough which often manifests itself through perfectionism undermines our ability to succeed.
These wounds create a hole in us that makes us feel like you will never be good enough.
The first step to healing is by understanding that your mother is carrying on the treatment she received as a child that can sometimes be traced back for generations — great grandmother to grandmother to mother to you.
The second step is forgiving your mother. We often try to get around this by stating it wasn’t that bad because it is difficult to forgive. But it was and you need to forgive your mother unreservedly.
I am not pointing the finger at anyone because I am so aware of my own shortcomings and failures as a mother particularly in the early years of raising my own children.
But, for some the issue goes deeper and like my sister acknowledging the emotions that Mother’s Day brings may be the start of a journey to emotional healing and wholeness. Whether it’s the loss of a child or wounds from childhood let’s determine to address these wounds so we can move forward in our lives.
Whatever our wounds and however they came about, it is our responsibility to be honest with ourselves, others and God and begin our journey to wholeness through forgiveness.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3 NKJV)