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For the Women Who Dread Mother's Day

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  May 10, 2013 07:37 AM

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Everywhere you look--or listen--there's something about Mother's Day. There are ads for gifts, reminders to buy flowers, sentimental blogs, stores stocked with cards. It's all so lovely and sweet...unless you really don't like Mother's Day.

There are lots of good reasons to not like Mother's Day--the mere fact of how commercial it has become is probably enough. But for some of us, the reasons are, well, harder.

For me, Mother's Day is hard because I am the mother of a child who died. It's not that there aren't good things about Mother's Day, but it's definitely a trap-door day for me and all the mothers who have lost children, including children who had yet to be born.

It's a hard day for those who have lost mothers.

It can be a bitterly sad day for those struggling with infertility, or those who for other reasons don't have the children they hoped for.

Mother's Day can be painful, too, for those who are estranged from, or have difficult relationships with, their mothers or their children. It's a day when it's hard to escape or ignore that your relationship isn't what you what you want it to be.

And it's not always easy for the mothers of disabled children, the mothers who aren't going to get those homemade cards, or ever hear "Happy Mother's Day" from their child. Again--it's a day that so idealizes the mother-child relationship that anything less, or different, feels not good enough--even though these women are among the heroes of motherhood.

We are a sisterhood, all of us who just want the day to pass. We are a sisterhood of women who have learned so much the hard way, who know that life doesn't hold guarantees, who in our better moments understand that love isn't about what you get, but what you give.

There's no way to make the day go away. It hurts, no matter what. But for me, part of what helps is acknowledging that it will hurt--and planning for it. I run in a Mother's Day race that I really enjoy. I spend time with people I love. I eat food I like. I take care of myself.

That is what I hope for each of you in the sisterhood with me: that you take care of yourself. Do something self-indulgent. Eat only ice cream all day if you feel like it. Buy yourself a gift. Spend at least a few minutes of the day being beholden to nobody but you.

And--any of you who know one of us, reach out. Let us know you are thinking of us--it helps. Give us a call, or a hug. Send a text. We'll need them. 
Sisters, you aren't alone. There are vast numbers of us. Maybe that's what we can do, too: reach out our hands to each other--in real ways, in cyber-ways, in any way--and say: I understand. I stand with you. This day shall pass, life goes on, and there are always, always reasons to be grateful.

holding hands.jpg

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

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