5 Unexpected Emotions You Might Feel on Mother’s Day

5 Unexpected Emotions You Might Feel on Mother’s Day

Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are.

Cheryl Lacey Donovan

This coming weekend, you might have plans to celebrate Mother’s Day in some shape or form.

In theory, Mother’s Day provides a lovely opportunity to pause and share appreciation for the women in our lives who give of themselves.

And for some of us, that’s exactly what Mother’s Day is.

But for many of us, Mother’s Day brings up complex combinations of feelings…

joy and sadness
gratitude and resentment
contentment and frustration

It’s all real. It’s all totally okay.

And we don’t talk about that enough.

Today we’re highlighting 5 unexpected– yet totally normal– emotions you (or someone you know) might be experiencing this Mother’s Day:

1. Grief and loss

It could be the memory of your mother. (Or your mother’s memory of her own mother.)

Or perhaps it’s the reminder of a child that once made you a mother.

Or your struggle to become a mother.

Whether it’s the illness or death of a parent, the loss of a child, or an ongoing adoption or fertility process, Mother’s Day may intensify the painful feelings of grief and loss you already carry with you each day.  

2. Conflict

Maybe you and your mother haven’t spoken in years. Or perhaps your relationship is fraught with arguing and tension.

Maybe you’re in the midst of misunderstandings and miscommunication with your own children.

Or maybe you and your partner can’t seem to get on the same page about starting a family. Or parenting the kids you already have.

If you’re experiencing conflict in your relationship and/or family, Mother’s Day may highlight each little rift and create additional unease about the state of your relationships.

3. Ambiguity or confusion

Maybe you’re raising a child who isn’t your own, and have little idea what you’re doing or what’s expected of you.

(Or perhaps you have a clear sense of your role, but the kids– or your partner– see things just a bit differently…)

You may struggle with uncertainty about your role, feeling invisible, unwelcome, or even obsolete.

If you’re a stepmother, adoptive mother, foster mother, or anyone taking on a care-giving role in the lives of kids, Mother’s Day may raise questions or confusion about the role you’re in, and the way you show up in that role each day. 

4. Pressure and guilt

Maybe it’s the food you feed your kids. Or the methods you use (and the guiding philosophy, and the accompanying gear you’ve chosen…) to rock, sleep, diaper, soothe, and guide them.

Maybe it’s the schedule you work. Or the fact you work.

Or the pressure to feel, act, and be “maternal” (whatever that means).

Or the decision not to become a mother at all.

Whether you’re a woman with children or without, Mother’s Day can invite unsolicited speculation, judgment, questioning, and criticism (from others or from yourself) of the parenting decisions you’ve made.   

5. Burnout

Maybe reading the words of appreciation in your Mother’s Day card made you realize you haven’t heard them in long time.

Or perhaps it was tough to relax and enjoy that breakfast in bed, knowing the mess that awaited you downstairs in the kitchen.

Or maybe the whole day was a breeze– with everyone helping and getting along– and you still felt like locking yourself in the bathroom with a book.

Mother’s Day can highlight feelings of resentment or unfulfillment, and serve as a reminder of the critical need to take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it.    



While it’s true that no two people are alike, when it comes to Mother’s Day (and the feelings it can elicit), some things are pretty universal:

No matter what your story is, you deserve more compassion than you’re showing yourself right now.

Even when aspects of your life are painful, there is always something to be thankful for.

It’s OK to say “No” to things

Self-care is not a luxury or a goal. It’s a code-red-important, absolutely essential game-changer.

And no matter what you’re feeling this Mother’s Day, we see you, we value you, and we’re here for you.  


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