Mother’s Day- get ready for lots of brunch advertisements and reminders to buy flowers. If you have a supportive mama that is alive and healthy or if you are a mama and have a healthy good relationship with your children, then perhaps this day is conflict free and one of celebration. But for many, this day can bring up guilt, shame, grief or even anger. Here are some tips for how to support a friend who hates Mother’s Day- I bet there’s a good reason.
1). Be mindful about your friend’s experience. Perhaps you have a friend whose mom just died or perhaps her mother was mentally ill or narcissistic, always putting her own needs and what other people thought ahead of her children’s feelings. Perhaps someone in your life is a mother who has lost her child to addiction, death, suicide, violence or in some other way. Maybe they occupy multiple roles- like they have children and enjoy being a mother, but also have grief around their own mother. Just be aware.
2). Don’t make assumptions. Ask open-ended questions like “how is this day for you?” “How can I be here for you?”
3). Just show up. If you know that Mother’s Day seriously sucks for this person, ask them what they need. Maybe they need to go to a movie or have it be a “friend’s day.” Maybe you just show up and do a load of laundry for them or pay to have their house cleaned.
4). Empathy is Awesome! Offer lots of “however you’re feeling makes sense and it’s okay that it’s not sunshine and rainbows.” A good friend will say, “you don’t have to be happy for me to want to hang out with you.”
5). You don’t need to take away or absorb their pain. You can still have a celebratory experience AND show up for your friend. Honor what Mother’s Day means to you in all of its complexity and allow your friend the space to do the same.