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  • Writer's pictureKylie Pedersen-Ortiz, LCSW

When Mother's Day Is Difficult

With Mother’s Day this past weekend, we saw people seeking out thoughtful gifts, brunch reservations, gorgeous flowers and sparkly cards. People searching for ways to celebrate their own motherhood or the mothers in their lives in special and meaningful ways. Mothers gathering with their children, children gathering with their mothers or those who have acted as mothers in their lives. Mother’s Day for so many seems to be filled with honoring beautiful and lovely relationships with mothers or mother figures. A day filled with happiness, sweet memories, laughter and love. For many this is true! For many others this is partially true and for many this is not their reality at all.

Motherhood and our relationship with mothers is often complicated. Sometimes it is colored with grief, sorrow, longing or frustration. There are so many longing for better relationships with the mother figures in their lives. Many longing to see their mothers one last time. Desperately hoping to be a mother, spending the day with their own babies in their arms. Wishing to have their mothers be who they need them to be in their lives. Maybe even feeling shame or judgement that their relationship isn’t what is “expected”. Wishing their relationship reflected what is projected through media, advertising and social media. It can be a triggering day for many and a day we wish we could fill with something else.

We often see posts and pictures filled with “Thinking of You” sentiments on Mother’s Day which can create a moment of pause and understanding for many. We are reminded to be mindful, take the space we need on these days, fill them with things that bring us peace, calm and happiness. The reality is, this can be very difficult to do. Often, we feel conflicted. Celebrating mothers can be an important or expected thing to do. How do we take pause for our own needs on a day that is about others?

Take a deep breath. What is that you find difficult for you on this day? What do you wish your day was going to be like? If your day is not filled with all you wish it was, take a moment to mourn that loss. Take a few moments, take an hour, take the time to process your needs. Write them down, share them with someone you trust and give yourself permission to feel what you need. It can be hard to open up to our feelings without letting them overflow. If needed, give yourself a time limit for processing and feeling. Have positive outlets or activities lined up to engage in after that period. Go for walk, practice some yoga, eat your favorite food(s), watch your favorite show, identify things in your life you are grateful for, cry or laugh it out. Find ways to contribute to your feelings of peace and decrease your worry.

If you feel you can’t escape obligations on Mother’s Day, prepare yourself in the same ways. Explore and reinforce your healthy boundaries. Identify a person for support if you can. Allow for moments to escape and take another deep breath or pause from the day if things become difficult to manage. Give yourself some grace and forgiveness, know that you are coping as best you are able. Celebrate your courage as you make your way through this day.

Our relationships do not define us, but they inevitably impact who we are and the truth is, who we are is beautiful. Acknowledging the not so beautiful moments or relationships in our lives and finding ways to live with them or with their memories, but not allowing them to define or control us is hard. So, continue to seek out the support you need. Let your beauty shine in whatever small ways you can on this difficult day and know you are not alone.

“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we will ever do.” - Brene Brown



Kylie Kylie specializes in helping children and families navigate the many challenges of chronic illness. She can be reached at (805)399-2598 or by email at

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