For many of us, Mother’s Day is a time of grieving.   Not because mom has passed on but because she’s still around and our relationship with her is as painful as it’s ever been.    Like a rotten Valentine’s Day, it’s a time when the world is focused on love and all we see is what we missed.

We’ve all seen the cards meant for sainted mothers who were endlessly patient and perfectly caring.  Each spring racks of cards dedicated to this woman pop up in stores like dandelions on a lawn.  But what if that’s not the mother you came from?    

If shopping for a Mother’s Day card is a hellish chore for you, you’re not alone.   As sweet as Hallmark makes motherhood seem, the perfect mother is a mythical thing. 

It’s unlikely that your mother was a Hallmark-quality Saint.   More likely she was an imperfect and often frustrated woman who ended up having children.   Whether she became a mom by choice, by accident, or by default, no mom is perfect and women who came from hard times may have arrived at motherhood without positive role models to help them do the job well.

Hearts grieve lost dreams and desires whether we can name them or not.  For many of us, this means that Mother’s Day brings deep, unnamed grief, front and centre.   It may be grief for a sweet-tempered mother we never had or for a close relationship that we never got to experience.

Whatever you feel, it is unique to the relationship that you had or have with your mother, but the pain you feel because of it, is shared by many of us.   Even those of us who were fortunate enough to come from a long line of loving mothers didn’t necessarily find ourselves with a mother who’s temperament and style of loving filled our needs.    

When we acknowledge the truth of what we’re feeling and the truth about the gap between what we needed and what we got, we are showing ourselves the love and kindness that we imagine our dream mother would have given us.

You can’t change the hand that life dealt you or trade in your mother for a new model but you can acknowledge the hurts and frustrations you feel.   When you do that, you make room to see and appreciate whatever good there might be, in the relationship that you have, with the mother that you got.

Written by Catherine Mitchell, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist serving the Durham Region.