Mothering Sunday is a special day for many, but it can also be a difficult day for lots of people, so this article is written particularly for anyone who might find it a challenge.
- You might have always wanted to be a mother but it just never happened.
- Perhaps you lost your mother when you were young or more recently.
- Maybe you don’t get on with your mother, and this ‘special’ day just makes you feel sad or envious of others.
- Or you could simply find being a mother challenging and not the happy experience you expected or hoped for.
- Perhaps you’re worrying you’ve been a bad mother or that awful things are going to happen to your child, however old they are.
- Maybe your grown-up children are involved in their own lives, and not in touch with you as much as you’d like; or perhaps your children are no longer alive.
There can be many reasons for women and men of all ages to find Mothering Sunday difficult.
Whatever you’re feeling, remember you’re not alone
All these experiences are so normal, so please know you’re not alone. To be human is to be full of emotions – sadness, anger, envy, disappointment and guilt – and days like Mothering Sunday can intensify those feelings.
How mindfulness can help
The first step with a mindfulness approach is to know that all of us feel these emotions. Perhaps this Sunday see if you can allow yourself to be as you are; make space for your emotions rather than try and make yourself feel something you’re not. If you’re feeling sad or upset, telling yourself “I shouldn’t be feeling this”, or “There are so many people worse off than me, I shouldn’t be feeling sad”, just adds to the stress and hurt. Can you be kind to yourself with whatever you’re going through?
I also suggest you try and avoid social media on days like Mothering Sunday. It will probably be flooded with images of the “perfect Mothering Sunday”, which will only make you feel gloomy if yours doesn’t seem to match up.
If you’re struggling and happiness seems out of reach, try aiming for a “Mindful Mothering Sunday” this year. Instead of aiming to get rid of your emotions, you could try using mindfulness exercises to manage them instead.
Practising mindfulness of current emotions can be a powerful strategy for letting go of emotional suffering.
You could try some of these ideas:
- First, simply notice which emotion is present, and name it.
- Experience it as a wave coming and going, allow yourself to feel it in your body. Then imagine you’re riding the wave as if you’re surfing. Take some deep breaths. Start again when you fall off your surf board!
- Don’t try to push your emotion away – see if you can simply let it sit on the side while you focus on your breathing.
- Remember, you are not your emotion – it is just something that is visiting, and it will pass.
- And if the emotion seems too painful to turn towards, you could try taking your attention elsewhere – maybe taking some deep breaths, breathing out for longer than you are breathing in. Or focus on sensations in your feet or hands.
You could also take a moment to consider what you do have that you could appreciate. This is not to push away the unpleasant feelings, but as something else to focus on. It could be simple things like having a home, being safe, aspects of health, The Joy Club! It is our natural tendency to focus more on the negatives, so we need to make a bit of an effort to notice the good things we have.
See if you can treat yourself with care and gentleness – maybe do something you know you enjoy – as simple as having a hot drink in your favourite cup, a hot bath, put on some uplifting music, go for a walk, do a meditation, or book a session with The Joy Club to lift your spirits and connect with others!
Knowing we have something to look forward to can greatly improve our mood. Joy Club sessions you might like to consider that are coming up this week include:
- Listening Ear – a support group led by a pastoral specialist
- Coffee break – relaxed, chatty session with other members
- Empower hour – self-development workshops
- Film Club – chatting about the film ‘Judy’
If you’d like to try a meditation to help with difficult emotions, you can find my free ones here.
Best wishes to all, and may everyone have a nurturing and gentle day this Sunday.
If you have any thoughts or comments you want to share, you can so in the comments section below.