Mother’s Day for Complicated Families

Mother’s Day. A day that recognises your dedication and hard work throughout the year. A day that’s all about you, right?


For children with complicated, dislocated and perhaps distressing experiences of mothers, a whole day devoted to their marvellousness might just be one of the worst days that could have been invented.

If Mother’s Day is something to be endured rather than enjoyed in your family then I recommend getting your head around it now, a good few days before the gushy event and before those tricky visitors; emotion and expectation move in and make themselves at home.

These are some of the things I try to do and sometimes succeed at to increase the chances that Mother’s Day doesn’t leave my family in a state of dislocated hysteria.

  1. Buy yourself a present, something you really like, a little plant perhaps or some chocolates. ┬áTell yourself it’s because you’re doing an awesome job at this mothering business. Anything else will be a bonus.
  2. Buy a Mother’s Day card, put it somewhere reachable, but not on display and say, ‘There’s a spare card on the sideboard in case you wanted to give it to me. No problem if you don’t want to.’ Say it casually and mean it.
  3. Take some time to consider how hideously difficult Mother’s Day might be for your child, even if they don’t say it out loud. Sit with it and decide that you will help them navigate their way through the day, because what could be a more powerful statement about what mothering is really all about.
  4. Set all expectations to “LOW”.
  5. Do not allow any cell of your body to look forward to a lie-in.
  6. Make a plan. Perhaps do something low-stress that you and your child enjoy doing, for instance going out for fish and chips. Perhaps have some ‘because I love you’ surprises in your pocket.
  7. Express the difficulties and complications out loud, with acceptance and compassion, ‘I know it’s a difficult day for you and I’m OK with that’/’I’m going to do my best to notice if you’re struggling’/’I know you love me and I don’t need you to show me’.
  8. Avoid all sources of sickly Mother’s Day emoting from others. Yuck!
  9. When the day is done and you’ve weathered whatever came your way, take some time to reflect on what did and did not work so well. No blame though. And perhaps say to your child, ‘I enjoyed spending time with you today.’
  10. Reward yourself with a big slug of self care. And remember that however your family has been stitched together, you are doing something truly remarkable. GO YOU.

2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day for Complicated Families”

  1. A timely reminder, thanks. Low expectations are a must, as they are for me on all occasions when we are ordered to be happy and joyful. We celebrate the small private moments that are inconspicuous to the outside world. x

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