When Mother’s Day Gets Complicated


With Mother’s Day approaching, moms everywhere look forward to a day of gratitude and recognition for everything we do for our children and family. It’s a day where we can hopefully relax (maybe easier said than done) and revel in the fact that we spend the other 364 days of the year playing the role of superhero in countless ways.

We also get to show our gratitude to our own mothers, and in some way try to thank them for everything they did for us, and for all of the ways they continue to help us as we raise our own children – which I have to admit I sometimes still feel like I wouldn’t have a clue how to do without my own mother’s guidance and insight. Our moms never really stop taking care of us, and they deserve a day to be spoiled for it.

Mother’s Day is supposed to be a happy occasion. But for some of us, it’s complicated. Some of us are in that awful club we never wanted to belong to. We are the moms who have lost our own mothers, and that loss makes Mother’s Day take on a much different meaning. We have forever lost a part of ourselves, and we sadly know the shadow that loss can cast on even the best of days.

My mom passed away not quite two years ago, and I honestly am still trying to adjust to life without her here. She was only 54, and I wasn’t prepared to lose her so young – not that any of us ever are.

This year will mark my second Mother’s Day without her. The last one we had together was spent in an ICU, just five days before she died. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in this world, but it is painful to remember. I can’t help but to associate Mother’s Day with the most difficult time in my life.

I have found that becoming a mom makes it hard to be the one who is cared for. When you spend your hours and days being the caregiver, it is not an easy task to stop for a day and just be spoiled, even if there is a holiday created just for that purpose.

Because of this, my celebration of Mother’s Day was always about shifting my energy to making that day about my mom, and taking care of her. But with her gone now, I’m not quite sure where to direct that energy. I don’t really know what the day is supposed to mean to me now. I know it is important to reflect on my memories of my mom, but I do that every day. I can celebrate with my own family, but the celebration is inevitably not what it used to be.

The grief is always difficult, and it is always painful, but of all the days that are a struggle – and there have been many – Mother’s Day is up there as one of the toughest. While I am grateful for the effort that my husband and my daughters put in to making that day special for me, it can be hard to overlook the heartache I feel. My husband obviously understands, but my girls are very young. The last thing I want is for them to sense my sadness and think it is any reflection on them. So I work hard to enjoy the day as best I can.

Parenting through grief is a huge undertaking. We often have to put on a brave face for the days we’d rather just give in to the tears. But our children need us, so we push forward, no matter how painful some days may be. Holidays can be the most difficult, especially one focused on moms.

I hope this year to be able to do a better job of being the one who is getting spoiled.

I hope that I can focus less on the hurt, and more on being the very blessed mother of two sweet little girls who give me glimpses of my own mom every day.

But I think that Mother’s Day – despite all of the good things it brings – will probably always be bittersweet for those of us who are without the wonderful women who brought us into this world, and left it too soon.

Previous articleHip Mama’s Day Gifts :: All Local Edition
Next articleCinco de Mayo :: Where to Celebrate (and not) with Kids
Hannah is the Marketing Coordinator for Columbia Mom, as well as a contributing writer. She is a former full-time working turned work-at-home/homeschooling mom. She lives in Irmo with her husband and two young daughters, along with a very energetic Yorkie. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Marketing and Management, and spent some of her time at USC as a political cartoonist for The Gamecock, the university’s newspaper. She is passionate about writing, painting, social justice, coffee, and raising strong women. You can also find her writing at Her View From Home, as well as her blog, Palindromic Musings, where she writes about living with and navigating through grief.


  1. I’m very sorry she is not still here Hannah. You certainly don’t need a special day to remember her because you will never forget her. But you can honor her by allowing your girls to do for you what you did for her. And you can maybe have a day unencumbered with the tasks that occupy the other 364 days (sorry it’s 365 this year) and just get lost in the sweet memories. I love you very much!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here