Though Mother’s Day is a time to acknowledge the hard work of women who have given life or stepped into motherhood roles when needed, we must also remember to support those who find it hard to celebrate when grief is attached to the holiday. (Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash)

By Reginald Williams,
Special to the AFRO

The joy that many mothers feel serving as a vessel for life is unexplainable. 

Many mothers conclude that motherhood is a central experience in their lives. However, with all its joys, maternity is saturated with its fair share of challenges, often leaving moms to feel depleted.  

“Being a mom is hard. It’s the toughest job in the world,” says Nicole Kreamer, a mother of three. 

Droves of moms echo Kreamer’s sentiment. That sentiment also includes mothers anchored to guilt. 

“I used to have a heavy sense of guilt when I would do things that allowed me to practice self-care,” explained DeAngela Johnson. “Honestly, I often felt like [in order] to be a good mom, I needed to put the kids first. I thought I needed to put them ahead of my marriage and myself. To do otherwise meant I was being selfish- borderline neglectful.”

It’s common practice for mothers to feel unbalanced in the parental role. So, how do they balance the demands of raising children?

With Mother’s Day approaching, many mothers will use the weekend to engage in activities they seldom afford themselves: They will partake in some self-care.

Pampering and rejuvenating is how Melissa Quick plans to spend her Mother’s Day weekend. 

“We can neglect ourselves then normalize that neglect,” said Quick, a mother of two. “I’m going to find the best soothing bath product on the market. I’m going to say ‘yes’ to me all day by making sure all my favorite indulgences are available.”

Teeshalavone Jenkins, a mother of three, maintains that self-care is a priority in her life every day. “Self-care is never selfish,” Jenkins said. 

Daily walks, yoga, and some form of physical activity are an integral part of her life- so important that she’s intentional in imparting that self-care mindset in the rearing of her children.

“I make it a point to teach our children that taking care of yourself is a priority so that other areas of your life will flourish. Being conscious about how I nourish my body, mind, and spirit has helped me be present [as a] mother.”

Aiyana Ma’at, a mommy of five and a licensed clinical therapist, advocates that mothers must remain connected to themselves.

“As a mom, it’s easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day routine of family life,” said Ma’at, MSW, LICSW, and LCSW-C. “Before you know it, years have gone by, and you’re a shell of your former self. The best way to avoid this is to remember to pursue yourself as much as you pursue all the other responsibilities and obligations in your life.”

Mothers work hard every day, make sure the “mom” in your life- whoever she may be- gets a moment to indulge in some self care this year.

For many mothers, their inability to embrace mental wholeness during Mother’s Day is much more complex than the disregard they might receive from their children. 

Mother’s Day for many mothers is a sobering reminder of the loss of their mother. The grief of trying to navigate their mother’s death causes them to shut down and withdraw on a day they are to be celebrated. 

LD Swett-McKinney, a mother, grandmother, and a bonus mom to a 15-year-old whose mother is deceased, tries to balance her grief, which she described as “running high” around Mother’s Day.

“I try to balance my personal grief and help her honor and grieve for her mother while accepting my husband’s loving Mother’s Day expressions of appreciation for my role in my bonus baby’s life.”

Reliving the death of one’s mother on Mother’s Day is often about “identity and attachment,” explains Dr. Kevin Jackson, LCPC-S. “At times, experiencing a mother’s death is a daughter’s feeling of guilt, feeling that they’ve let their mother down. Their grief will often come from a place of guilt. But their grief can also be them missing their mommy; missing their mother’s friendship.”

Dr. Jackson, who serves as the director of clinical therapeutic services and supervision for the GraceCares Community Wellness Collaborative, suggests that grieving mothers do not run from the pain but rather run towards it. “Be yourself even in the paint,” said Dr. Jackson. “Your healing and self-care is in the pain. There is strength in your vulnerability.”

On a day where mothers are honored, Swett-McKinney’s perspective on how she navigates Mother’s Day is interesting when one considers that Anna Jarvis, credited with being the founder of the Mother’s Day holiday, conceived the celebration following the death of her mother. Jarvis’ mission was to use the day, ironically, “as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for the children.” 

As mommies nationwide settle into Mother’s Day, their mission is for their children to look for a way of honoring them for the sacrifices mothers have made for their children. Reginald Williams is  author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised & Demonized.” Please email bookreggie@reginaldwilliams.org for more information.

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Reginald Williams

Special to the AFRO