A woman with fur jacket falling off her shoulder as she crouches in the sand near a beach

Sweet friend,

I see you.

Mother’s Day rolls around every year. While for most of the country, this a day of flowers, bottomless brunches and showering the mother figure in their lives with love, for you this day is difficult. You never know how to feel.

Some years, you’re just fine. While others, you feel grief. Some years, you feel angry and disappointed. In these times, your pain is palpable. Some years, you feel numb. Yet others, you feel hopeful—that maybe if you had a daughter of your own it might look different.

Maybe your mom lives with a mental illness or addiction. Perhaps, she has been absent or in-and-out of your life for as long as you can remember. Maybe you never met your mom. Maybe you struggle with feelings of abandonment or the pain of the parent-child role reversal where you played the role of mom at a young age. Perhaps, the relationship between you and your mom is just not healthy.

Whatever your story, you don’t have to feel guilty for what you feel on this day. Hurt. Confusion. Anger. Disappointment. Grief for the relationship you never had. Feel the feels, sweet girl.

You don’t have to feel guilty for whatever it is you might be feeling on this day.

You are not wrong for these emotions. While many people may not understand it and the card aisle at Target might make you feel left out on this Hallmark day, you are not alone. You don’t have to try to make other people understand. Please know, you are understood.

I am so sorry that you didn’t have the relationship with your mom that you imagined. I’m sorry for the void it’s left in your heart. I’m sorry for the hole in your heart that aches at the sight of mothers and daughters walking arm-in-arm as best friends. I’m sorry that you have had to be strong and push past this pain.

There is space to grieve here. Fall apart. Let the tears fall. Do not feel guilty for acknowledging your wounds. For when we grieve the failed expectations we once had, we are able to begin the process of healing.

When we grieve failed expectations, we are able to begin the process of healing.

If there’s any desire in your heart to be a mother (or perhaps you already are), please know that you are not your mother. You can start anew. You can heal these wounds. You don’t have to pass them down to your children. You can be a great mother.

Here’s the thing about mothers, they are human beings too. They are fallible. They make mistakes. They get it wrong sometimes. They hurt us too.

However, you should know that they too have been hurt. Oftentimes, unhealed wounds fester and show up in our relationships with the people closest to us. While this doesn’t excuse the behavior, it may help you better understand it so that you can move past it.

Maybe one day, you can begin to take steps of forgiveness toward your mom. I guarantee when you do this, when you set her free, you will find that, all along, it was you who needed to be set free. There can be healing here, but let’s take it one step at a time.

It’s okay if Mother’s Day is difficult. It’s okay if your relationship with your mom is complicated. For now, acknowledging that is enough. Your vulnerability is brave. You will heal.

Do you or someone you know have a difficult relationship with their mom? How can you show kindness to yourself or that friend this Mother’s Day?

Image via Sarah Kehoe, Darling Issue No. 14

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