Mi Mama, My Mother – Mi Bebe, My Baby

Yep, I said it. Mother’s Day isn’t for everyone. First, you have women who have lost their mothers (death, addiction, mental health, or etc.) or who did not have a healthy relationship or one at all with their birth mother, adoptive mother or mother figure. I lost my mother when I was 26 to breast cancer. I still miss her to this day and on occasion the melancholy hits me, and sometimes it may hit me hard. Thirty-two years later, and some therapy work, it has become easier and easier. It does get better with each passing year. If you have recently lost your mother or mother figure, consider the following tips.

  1. Book recommendation, Motherless Daughters by Hope Edleman. I read this in 1992 and it was a wonderful recommendation by my boss at the time. I read it every few years until I finally felt I was in a different spot in my life where the loss was behind me, and not on me.
  2. Do not get on social media the day of Mother’s Day – too many triggers.
  3. Do not go out to brunch, lunch or dinner on Mother’s Day -and if you do, leave if it gets too hard.
  4. Find a way to honor your mother in some way that day (journal writing, poem, visual arts, listening to her favorite music, or building a “day of the dead” type Shrine (Latinx style) with her favorite flowers and momentos, etc.).
  5. Church – I didn’t go to church on this day for a few years when my grieving period was raw. Even now, when I do attend mass on Mother’s Day I have not yet heard a sermon on Mother’s Day for motherless children/adults or women who don’t have children for whatever the reason.
  6. Go out with friend(s) who may be in the same situation and spend time in nature together or in someone’s home that day for a celebratory meal honoring them all. I did this for a few of my most critical years as I was still grieving.
  7. Don’t let anyone in your circle tell you when to stop grieving. Grieving is different for everyone. If you are in a situation where you are discouraged from feeling your feelings of loss or feel you can’t handle the grief yourself, seek the support you need (trusted friend, chaplain/priest/minister, grief support groups, or counselor/therapist).
  8. Make sure that when you share grieving space with someone that they can hold space for your feelings. This is your time, not their time. Seek out good listeners.

Second, there are women who do not have children for whatever reason. Make no mistake about it, based on my own experience, there is no woman or couple more “scorned by society” than a childless woman, regardless of color or race. To have the dialogue where people ask me, “how many kids do you have?” And when I share none, is always a very awkward experience for all parties involved. I have even had people cut the conversation short and walk away because in some cases the only thing they identify by and communicate about is their kids or grandkids. Whether it’s family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, church family, or people you meet in a recreational or social setting – those that know, know exactly what I mean. This is a societal and incredibly lonely issue. Once again, those that know, know exactly what I mean.

So what can you do in these circumstances? Here are a few talking-point-tips to consider.

  1. I am sorry this must be a difficult time.
  2. I am holding space for what you must be feeling right now.
  3. I can’t imagine how hard it must be during this time of the year.
  4. I would enjoy learning more about what you do in your work, hobbies, volunteer work, any pets, or the like you may have?
  5. I would love to hear how you may be offering maternal support in the community in any way (fur babies, friends, other family members, etc.)?
  6. If you are courageous enough… “is there anything you want to share with me that would help during this time?”
  7. If you don’t know what to say, say that… “I don’t what to say, I am so sorry.”
  8. Most importantly listen, be authentic and trustworthy to keep the conversation private.

Shout out to @Coach (and any brands) for sending out emails in March and April during pre-Mother’s Day “season” allowing those of us who want to opt-out of Mother’s Day emails to do so. Mother’s Day is not easy for everyone for various reasons most don’t recognize. I hope this blog helps you respond or interact differently in the future.

Miriam Zimms© 4/27/24

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