When Holidays Hurt: Mother’s Day Edition

My Daughter, My Mother, My Grandson, Me.  Mother's Day, 2007.

My Daughter, My Mother, My Grandson, Me.
Mother’s Day, 2007.


So how was your Mother’s Day?

Well, my mom and my daughter are both in the hospital, so . . . . My friend’s voice faded to nothing.

Nothing. Like the postmark on an envelope that never was mailed. 

Another friend’s mother died about 10 days before Mother’s Day.

And there’s another friend whose son hasn’t spoken to her in years.

There’s the friend whose prayers to become a mom were never answered.

And there’s the friend whose child is dead.

We all carry an image in our mind of what Mother’s Day should look like: 

Scrubbed and shining children bear trays of burnt toast and half-scrambled eggs.

Extravagant bouquets fill the room with the fragrance of pink.

Brunch buffets offer salmon, 16 salads, and a chocolate fountain.

Dads grill burgers, flipping them onto paper plates, so Mom can have the day off.

Was there ever an idea as ridiculous as Mom taking a day off?

Our hands may rest, but our hearts never do. 

And it’s those overactive hearts of ours that can make a holiday hurt.

It’s easy to look around and see Hallmark moments happening everywhere.

It hurts. It hurts deep down to the roots of our mama’s hearts, our hearts stretched big by the constant calisthenics of raising children. 

My advice? Let it hurt.

It’s easy to think we should cheer up. It’s easy to think that our sadness results from an ill-begotten pity party.

It’s easy to think we’re supposed to be happy and cheerful no.matter.what.

As a wise friend once told me, sometimes you just have to let it hurt. 

So do what soothes the pain. Take a little trip. Read a good book. Eat ice cream. Walk. Garden. Yell.

But don’t pretend the pain isn’t legitimate. 

It’s yours.



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Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)


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On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). The conversation began on January sixth and we’ll continue until we run out of things to say. Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear from each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.

Please join us. Be a part of the conversation.


  1. Sheila, this is one of the best Mother’s Day posts I’ve read (I know, it’s actually a post-Mother’s-Day-post). In turn, there have been the joy-filled, I’m-so-blessed ones, the I’m-missing-someone-but-thankful-for-the-memories ones, and the almost bitter it’s-too-painful-and-the-world-is-terrible-for-celebrating-what-I-don’t-have ones. You’ve identified the reality and given us a refreshing perspective.

    I’ve always loved that scripture. Reading it this past weekend, it reinforces my belief that the day was never meant to be all about me. It isn’t a time to resent things in my life that haven’t gone exactly how I hoped, or to be upset at those whose lives have, “because [through it all, good and bad] God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Acknowledge the pain, and deal constructively with it. Accept that there are other women in different situations who are entitled to celebrate without reservation. Be thankful for the faith, grace and hope that are ours.

    Thank you for this. 🙂

  2. Sheila, our daughter miscarried at the end of the year last year and this is her second ‘post-Garrison’ Mother’s Day. I still forgot that she’s a mom….and the day is hard for her.
    This is the best advice–let it hurt. Yes….

    • Jody, I don’t know how I managed to overlook your post until now. So sorry! I’m glad my thoughts resonated with you. Blessings on your daughter–and her mama.

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