How To Navigate Mothers Day When You Have A Strained Relationship With Your Mom

Maybe your relationship with your mom feels different than the one you hoped for. Maybe you feel like you aren’t seen in the way you’d like to be, maybe you just don’t have as open communication as you’d like, or maybe she’s been absent—I get it.

There was this movie I use to watch called Mommy Swap or something like that. It played on HBO every week, or at least it felt like it. It was about these kids who got to go to this mom factory and pick a new mom because they didn't like the one they had. By the end of the movie, they obviously realize that they do like their mom, they’re happy with her, and wouldn’t want anyone else—but as someone who didn't have a good relationship with her mom, I use to wish that kind of mom factory was a real thing. Where I could go and get a mom who would see me and be there when I needed her.

We all want to be seen and loved for who we are, yet sometimes within the parameters of mother daughter relationships it doesn’t always feel that way.  As the daughter, you long for what you feel like you’re missing, feeling hurt each time it doesn’t show up.

As a mom myself now, I can assure you that if you’re feeling this way, your mom probably feels the same way too. She simply wants to be seen and loved for who she is also. I mean shit, being a parent is so hard. As parents, we try and do the best we can—knowing that we will inevitably fall short. I know I certainly have.

So here you are, coming up on a day that celebrates the magic of mothers but every card you pick up doesn’t feel right. You don’t feel like there's a card that says I love you, but I’m hurt, and I don’t feel this magic or connection with you—but I’m not supposed to say that because you gave me life.

What do you do?

I don’t have a magic answer, because I’ve spent years in therapy, healing and working to feel at peace with my relationship with my own mom—so while I can’t tell you how to fix it, I can tell you have to navigate the day with just a little bit more ease. Because it can be hard to see the posts on social media of daughters loving so hard on their moms while you longingly wish for that and can’t, or haven’t had it.

1. Show kindness to yourself, even if it's in the smallest way. Your relationship with your mom is a two way street, which means that while you surely have some role in its current state, it doesn’t mean you are to blame. Allow yourself moments of kindness, and relief. You are not entirely at fault here. This may mean you step away from social media so you're not flooded with mom posts, or maybe you just make yourself a breakfast you love. Set your boundaries tomorrow, and honor them.

2. You are not your mom, and her actions and behaviors don’t define you. You are YOU. Kind, beautiful and loving. You are not her. Use this as your mantra as much as you need to: I am not my mom. Her choices are not your own. You are not her.

3. Get the anger out of your body. If you’re mad, okay, be mad. But take some kind of action to not let that pain grow deeper inside of you. Move your body today. Take a walk, workout, dance it out, write it out. Do something to move the hurt and pain inside of you, out. You do not have to hold this fire in your hands until you burn.

I see you and your pain. No really, I see YOU. I don’t know the exact hurt you’re holding but I know it’s real and valid and I know you wish things were different.

Your mom played the role she was suppose to play in your life, had she not, you wouldn’t be who you are today.

You’re not alone in your anger, pain or hurt—I feel it too. May you move through this day with a little more ease, and continue to work on processing and healing through your hurt.

One of most powerful things I ever did to come to a place of less pain with the reality of my relationship with my mom was to release the idea of who I wanted her to be, and see her for who she is. My mom is as an addict, and alcoholic. She won’t ever be the mom I wanted. So,  I sought the love from a mother in other places. In beautiful friendships, aunts, teachers and mentors. The lack of love and support you feel with her doesn’t mean you can’t fill that love in ways that perhaps just look a little bit different than you expected.

We can't change our parents, but we can work on ourselves. We can work on the hurt we hold, and learn how to let go of some of that pain. You can do that.