In a few days, on 08 May, is Mother’s Day. A day that offers us the chance to deal with the accumulated experiences of being a daughter, a mother and possibly even our own motherhood.
How are you feeling about this upcoming holiday? Are you looking forward to gossiping with your mom live or on the phone, recalling memories and laughing together? What a beautiful, warm-hearted performance. Or does no mother (anymore) exist in your life and this day is somewhere between a deep inner pain and “I don’t care anyway”? Maybe you have children and are looking forward to this day with your family without reservation?
I myself am torn. If my daughter (9) surprises me with a picture or my son (13) wishes me “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!”, I am of course delighted. And yet I remain biased. Shouldn’t we show our affection for each other every day instead of just on special dates like we push a button?
My inner conflict has been with me for a long time. It dates back to the time when I produced the Mother’s Day crafts specified in kindergarten and elementary school. In the morning I marched to the flower store with my pocket money before they were handed over – I had the impression that this was expected of me. My gifts were graciously received by my mother. But it never felt like real, warm love to me.
Maybe that’s why I’m a bit envious of the women around me who have a loving adult relationship with their own mother, some even a friendly relationship. Because such a mother-daughter relationship can be experienced by both sides as strengthening and in the best case of both inner “love tank” (The term “love tank” comes from Gary Chapman: “The five languages of love. How communication succeeds in partnership.” or “The Five Languages of Love for Children.” According to Chapman, the five languages of love are 1. praise and appreciation, 2. togetherness, 3. gifts that come from the heart, 4. helpfulness, and 5. tenderness).
It’s okay to put your own health above your mother’s well-being
Our parents are the people who shape us the most. In mother-daughter relationships in particular, the mother plays a key role, since she is our first role model with whom we want to identify, but from whom we sometimes (especially during puberty or as adults) also have to distance ourselves.
Our mother is the person who carried us in her body before we were born, whose voice and heartbeat we knew before we were born into this world. The mother’s lifestyle and moods during pregnancy have been shown to influence the unborn child and can have a positive or negative impact on the start of life – even before the first breath is taken. For the most part, the relationship with the mother remains relevant throughout our lives.
But if there were many hurts, unkindness or even traumatic experiences in childhood and adolescence, the Mother’s Day greeting is for some of us pure fulfillment of duty and thus also a mental challenge to be mastered. Still others had to completely separate themselves from their mother to protect their mental health, sometimes to the point of breaking off contact temporarily or permanently. And yes: that’s okay, too, if it means we’re taking care of ourselves and our mental health. The bottom line is that the way we experienced or helped shape our relationship with our living or deceased mother is often a long-lasting influencing factor on our psychological well-being.
I have a very difficult relationship with my mother, unfortunately – almost a non-relationship. Our contact is mostly on the back burner. Nevertheless, I keep mentally engaging with her, with key scenes from our shared past, and with our relationship. Last year, this resulted in a Mother’s Day poem that I gave to her. It didn’t change anything in our relationship, but it was a reconciliatory act for me. And I’ve noticed over and over again for myself while writing the poem and at other times: Honesty with myself, even if it hurts in the moment, helps me keep my psychological balance. In everyday life as well as on holidays or at family gatherings. For in my soul dwell joy and pain, light and darkness; but above all a great love for life and for my own little family. Therefore, I would like to show myself authentically here and, as a thematic bracket, conclude this article on Mental Health and Mother’s Day with the poem I wrote.
I wish all readers a Mother’s Day on May 8th – or just a normal day – which they can organize for themselves according to their individual needs so that they remain with themselves and thus in their balance and strength.
Even if we both
in our relationship
often neither see the love
could still feel
there is a ribbon after all,
that holds us together.
You mother through me,
I daughter through you.
Today mother herself
I join the ranks
into the eternal feminine.
It’s more than biology,
what connects us.
There are memories and experiences,
Wounds that can heal
There is no other mother
than you for me.
There is no other daughter
than me for you.
The time we have left is diminishing.
Maybe we can make peace
in our hearts and with each other.
About the author
Nora Hille was born in 1975, is happily married and has two children. She studied history, literature and media studies, worked in communications/public relations for 12 years and has now retired for health reasons. Today she writes articles on the topics of mental health and mental illness as a sufferer and experience expert. She also writes literary essays, poems (preferably haikus) and short prose. She regularly publishes her mental health column here at FemalExperts Magazine and is Editor of eXperimenta - the magazine for literature, art and society. Anti-stigma work is close to her heart: she is an encourager at Mutmachleute e.V. and is committed to Anti-Stigma-Texts against the stigmatization (exclusion) of the mentally ill in our society for more togetherness, tolerance and equality. In autumn 2023 her book "When Light Defeats Darkness" will be published by Palomaa Publishing. A book of encouragement about how to live a good and rich life despite bipolar illness - and the enormous challenge that this means every day for the inner balance of those affected.