Dismantling Old Myths and Honoring the Complexity of Mother’s Day

Today – Mother’s Day here in the US – is an important day and an incredibly important topic – especially for those of us who’ve experienced childhood, developmental or attachment trauma.

For some, this day may be a wonderful celebration. Perhaps you have a loving, healthy, fulfilling relationship with your mother or a mother figure in your life. If so, I wish you a joy-filled day of celebration. 🥰

But I also know that for many others (perhaps someone you love if not you), this day can be extremely complex; bringing up all kinds of feelings from pain and anger to sadness, grief and longing.

For those of us who fall into this latter category, I want to stress one thing above all: there is no right or wrong way to feel today.

Perhaps you never had a mother figure, or had one who was or is abusive. Maybe you’re estranged or perhaps your mother is no longer living.

Every year, the media presents idyllic images and a narrative of happy families with gifts and cards filled with gushing sentiment. But what about those of us for whom there is no card, no words to describe our relationship?

We can be left isolated on the outskirts, filled with anger, guilt and shame.

If Mother’s Day is a time of sorrow or difficulty for you, here are 6 tips to help you navigate this challenging time:


1) Practice Self Care:

It’s so important to take care of yourself today. This could mean taking a long bath, going for a hike, reading a book, or doing anything else that brings you respite, comfort or peace. You are allowed to make your needs a priority today.


2) Allow Yourself to Feel:

Whatever emotions come up for you today, allow yourself to be with them, to witness them and feel them without judging yourself. I know this can be challenging, and we often want to distract ourselves to avoid feeling our grief or anger for example. But even just a couple of minutes of feeling can bring us so much relief.


3) Tap:

Yes – my favorite! ☺️ Maybe you feel especially irritable with those around you today. This can often be a sign that there’s something waiting to be felt and processed – and a little tapping could be really helpful in doing this safely.


4) Establish Boundaries:

It’s absolutely ok to say no to activities that could cause you emotional distress today. If you’ve been invited to a family gathering, but know it will be too difficult for you, it’s ok to decline – even if you’ve already agreed to go! Your emotional well-being matters, so if you do decide to see family, please take any and all breaks that you need.


5) Seek Out Support:

Very often on days like today, we can feel so alone. It takes courage, but please reach out to a friend, coach or other trusted person for support. Sharing your feelings with someone who can listen with compassion can be incredibly validating and healing.


6) Create Your Own Traditions:

If traditional Mother’s Day celebrations are painful for you, you might want to consider creating some new traditions of your own. This could be anything from planting seeds in a veggie garden to honor your personal growth, to painting pottery, to writing in your journal or lighting a fire pit.

Last year, for example, my husband and kids bought me a White Birch sapling and together we planted it to represent my putting down roots with them (as opposed to my family of origin). Doing so was incredibly joyful and healing.  And I get to watch it grow every day.🥰


As you navigate this Mother’s Day, please remember that your feelings and experiences are real and valid.

I’ll be thinking of you today and want to remind you that you’re not alone. I see you and I honor you.

I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment below letting me know if you struggle with Mother’s Day and if this blog post helped. 😀


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9 Comments on this post

  1. Thank you, Karen. Yes, I did have a lot of tears today. It’s been hard work for my nervous system to navigate that unsure terrain of growing up and the first two decades of being a mother as well. Having lost a child as an indirect result of all this is painful and is an ongoing grief, too. My precious children’s love touches my heart deeply and moves me to even more tears. Mothers’ Day is very different in our family than most others, and I’m often nervous when my friends ask me how we celebrated it.

    • Sending you so much love Ildiko. Thank you for sharing your journey. It’s so helpful for others to see they’re not alone. ☺️

      How we “celebrate” or spend this day is such a personal choice – according to what we’ve been through, what honors that and also what feels possible for us where we are today.

      Please know that you can keep it very minimal if friends do ask you about your day. You could say something like ” it was lovely and low-key, just what I needed”..or something else that feels authentic to you. 🤗

  2. Thank you Karen for this encouraging message. I absolutely needs it today. I feel sad and empty, my mother died when I was 8 and I have no children of my own. Your words are comforting and healing knowing that it is ok to feel the way I am feeling. I am grateful for your timely message. ❤️

    • I’m sending you so much love Nancy.

      All of how you’re feeling today (and any day that activates these feelings of loss) is valid. I wonder what the empty feeling might need a little of today? A warm cup of tea? An old familiar tv show or movie? Some cozy socks or a good book? Or maybe a walk in nature? I’m here for you. 🤗

  3. Your blog really helped. My mother just passed and I am healing from attachment trauma. I had w years of therapy that helped me prepare for her passing and to make peace with my only sibling. I have 11 wonderful children, an amazing husband and love the idea of planting a tree to establish and honor new root systems.
    Thank you for seeing me.

    • I love that idea of planting a tree for you Suzanne. Sending you love as you continue to grieve and heal. I’m here for you. 💕

  4. Thank you Karen. I think I just got so busy being busy that I hadn’t allowed myself to really feel the sadness I felt with this day. My Mom has dementia and over the last few years watching her slowly change, memories fading and softening from the person I knew & grew up with, has been a harder adjustment than I have allowed myself to acknowledge. The one suggestion that struck such a chord was allowing myself too feel. I think I grew up stifling my anger and I realize now some was directed to my Mom with the abuse as a child and now dealing with her becoming more child like has made me realize by forgiving her and treating her with compassion I am showing my inner child the kindness, compassion & love it deserved when I was young & feel lighter.

    I really appreciate your thoughtful, honest posts and helpful suggestions. I always look forward to reading your blogs – you are truly a ray of sunshine . . .

    • That makes so much sense Sandy. How to begin to feel that. Dementia is so challenging for loved ones to witness and cope with and I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      I know it’s tough, but feeling and expressing your anger towards your mom (especially as she was when you were little) may actually be very healing and helpful.

      You could perhaps do this by using a photo of her from back then and talking to it or yelling at it. Letting her know (energetically) what you needed but didn’t receive. It will help release what’s been pent-up and stored within you all these years.

      I think you being able to show compassion now and kindness in your interactions with her now will continue to help your inner child parts. See if letting them know that all of their feelings are valid helps too.

      I’m here for you in this difficult time. And I’m sending you much love today and every day. 🤗

  5. I read this on Mother’s Day and was very grateful for feeling seen. I totally shut down the entire day, as I am long estranged from my abusive mother and have strained relationships with other family members. I totally buffered the entire day, but thanks to your article I did not feel guilty at all. I did have some discomfort due to avoiding some one in my present life who was worried about me, but I was able to quickly text this person and all is well. Glad the day is over, and thank you for making me feel seen.

About Me

I'm Karen Ortner, an EFT Tapping expert, personal development coach, and childhood abuse survivor and I'm passionate about helping YOU in your healing journey!


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