Mother’s Day: Another Holiday Fraught with Peril

This is the post in which I bare my heart to ask for your help. You should be afraid. I am.

Mother’s Day is approaching, and I am freaking out. Wait, I said that wrong. I am F.R.E.A.K.I.N.G. O.U.T.

Last year was fairly simple: I was not a mother. I was very, very sad. (Although I did cheer up when my mother left me a voice mail in which she wished me a happy mother’s day and then apologized because she forgot. She actually said “Oops.” It made me laugh (ok, ok, it made me cry first). Look up well-meaning-miss-the-mark in the encyclopedia. There’s a whole volume on my family.)

This year I have many challenges, the biggest of which is myself. My freak out has clearly revealed to me that I have three main coping strategies, all of which are problematic.

1) Avoidance. Ignore the problem and it goes away. I know, how emotionally third grade. I can’t believe after decades of therapy I am still using this one. (Who I am kidding, of course I can believe it, everyone uses this one.)
2) Food
, aka Emotional Death Grip on Chocolate. This makes a healthy balanced approach to nutrition never-gonna-happen. Also, it is expensive, and hard on my knees. Don’t take away my chocolate.

3) Focus on Other People. This is really good for depression, which in my case manifests as a narcissistic spiral of despair about my inability to be worthwhile. The downside is that it results in unconsciously placing my need to escape my current emotional quagmire on the unsuspecting focus of my attention. In other words: it results in ERH.

In our household we don’t just like TLAs (three letter acronyms), we believe they have magical powers. ERH is Emotional Responsibility Hell, in which one person’s emotional well-being becomes the responsibility (implicitly or explicitly) of another person. It is never, ever good.

The best antidote for ERH can be summed up by this little girl: You Worry About Yourself.

In this case, worrying about myself led me here, to you. Help! None of my coping strategies are working…mostly because I don’t use them in moderation. A little bit of ignoring the problem (like for 10 minutes while you drive) is ok. A little bit of food is, well, what other people eat. A little bit of focus on others, like soup kitchens and thoughtful gifts, is great. But more is definitely worse.

Back to Mother’s Day. Last year was simple and sad. This year is joyful and complex. I’m not quite brave enough to list all the reasons why I’m dreading next Sunday. Like you, I am shocked to discover that I’m not purely blissfully happy, disgusted that I’m mired in self-absorbed-angst, and disappointed that I had to show it to everyone.

But I’m an enneagram 6. This means that I need my people. So, people, share with me your best strategies for navigating emotional-messy-and-complex. I’m ready to try something, anything new.

10 thoughts on “Mother’s Day: Another Holiday Fraught with Peril

  1. I’m so sorry Mother’s Day is going to be tough for you …. Sending hugs.
    All I can suggest is prayer, deep breaths, and EFT – it stands for emotional freedom techniques – you tap on certain parts of your body while saying affirmations e.g. “Even though I am dreading mother’s day, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”. I know it sounds nuts but it may help.

    • Oh EFT…there have been times in my life when I was sure I’d end up with little fingerprint bruises on my chin. Is it possible to panic attack and EFT at the same time? 🙂 Deep breathing. Yes. Also prayers, very helpful. Thanks so much for the hugs and support!

  2. I can understand your emotional turmoil. You know my story (or at least enough of it) and I struggle similarly on this upcoming day. I agree with Heather. You need to reaffirm yourself and your role, and it’s okay if you do that! Hang in there. <3

    • Aww, thanks Monika! I struggle so much with feeling like I shouldn’t complain because look at the amazing daughter who I get to have in my life. But yes, there’s turmoil. Thanks for understanding!

  3. Hey friend – your Mother’s day IS fraught. It IS complex. It IS messy. It’s chock-full of a whole bunch of I’ve-never-done-this-before-and-I’ve-got-no-roadmap. OF COURSE you are stressed out and worried. I don’t have any advice about how to cope…my own coping mechanisms are sooo lacking. I just hope that you can breathe through the messy and feel yourself being hugged (virtually) by all your friends.

  4. Don’t you dare feel disgusted or disappointed in yourself! This IS hard! You’d have to be fairly emotionally shut off to not feel the weight of this, and you’re not. You are sensitive and caring and deeply intuitive, and that’s what makes you so wonderfully you. I can give you a very long and ever-growing list of all the reasons you are an amazing mother who deserves to have a very joyful and meaningful day this Sunday to celebrate this fact.

    Sending you all my love. Breathe. Cry. Vent. Allow yourself a moderate amount of emergency chocolate. Snuggle your beautiful little girl. And know that you are never alone in this. 🙂

  5. Oh Big Sister, I love you. Being a mother is the most difficult job ever. Mother’s day is a day to appreciate that mom tries so hard, works her butt off, gets no sleep, sacrifices and feeds clothes etc. her children. No one gets to celebrate a perfect mother, just one who is giving her life and time to train and bless a little developing person. (If there were perfect mothers, imagine how annoying they would be to their kids) I think that the best mothers are the ones who admit that they have no idea what they are doing, just being honest and open hearted toward their kiddos. God is with you, He knows, He will help you navigate motherhood.

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