Can We Please Change The Way We Talk About Mother’s Day?
Mother’s Day is a tough holiday.
After the launch of our Mother's Day collaboration with Greetabl, the members of our community reached out to us in volumes.
You told us about your estranged relationships with your mothers.
You confided in us about your battles towards motherhood.
You told us that you were mourning the loss of your mothers.
Heartbreakingly, we were inundated with stories about the gravity of the pain associated with Mother’s Day. And despite the varying details of your situations, you all said one unifying statement:
Mother’s Day celebrations aren’t designed to make space for those who find the holiday difficult.
Everywhere you look, there’s a myriad of flowers, cards, and Mother’s Day Instagram posts. Everywhere you look, you’ll find endlessly imagery of the perfect looking mother-daughter duos. And everywhere you go, you’ll force yourself through endless conversations about the holiday… even though it’s painful.
Because of the strong people you are, you’ve told us that you put your head down to simply get through it. But…do you have to?
While we cannot stop all the conversations, marketing emails, and social posts, we’d like to equip you with some tools to navigate the Mother’s Day season. For starters, let’s begin within your own networks of people. If someone in your circle isn’t realizing how triggering their conversations are, let’s put up a boundary and tell them to stop.
Here are a few prompts to help you tell people to be more conscious when talking about Mother’s Day:
For Those Who Have a Difficult Relationship With Mom
To our community members who find themselves in this category, remember you do not have to justify or quantify anything.
You don’t have to explain away the level of difficulty in your relationship with your mother.
You don’t have to tell anyone how hard it is or say, “Can we not talk about this because of X, Y, and Z?”.
People are generally wired to show evidence of their hurt. Instinctively, we justify our boundaries. Guess what? It’s not necessary. We want to alleviate that responsibility right now.
If you’re in a tough spot with your mother, try this: “I am navigating some difficult things with my mother right now, but I am not ready to talk about the details. Do you mind if we take a break from this conversation and talk about our new favorite tv shows?”
Of course, if you need to talk about the various hurts of your mother-wound, you can ask your people to let you vent. Just ensure that you trust this person emotionally and that you’re ready to share. Don’t force yourself to open up.
For Those Who Are Grieving The Loss of Their Mother
First and foremost, we extend our deepest sympathies. Whether your mother has recently passed or it’s been some time, Mother’s Day is emotionally taxing for those who have suffered a loss.
If you just don’t want to talk about Mother’s Day, try this: “Mother’s Day is particularly triggering for me after the loss of my mother. I’d love to talk about her memory and find ways to honor her, but I am just not there right now. Do you mind if I tell you about the book I’ve been reading instead?”
If the person you’re communicating with does not know about your loss, you can omit those details and simply state it’s hard. From there, you can move on without additional justification.
For Those Who Deeply Desire to be a Mom But Are Struggling to Conceive
Again, we are so sorry for the pain that so many of you experience. This struggle is extremely difficult to disclose, so don’t feel pressure to give details.
Try this: “I’m really struggling today with my unmet desire to be a mother. It’d be helpful if you could help me take my mind off the day and talk about something different/random/fun.”
This statement doesn’t shame the other person by making them feel guilty. Instead, it empowers them to help you. If you need to do an activity as well, you can ask them to help distract you by going to get ice cream or taking a walk at your favorite park.
If the person you’re talking to doesn’t know about your fertility journey, you can say: “I’m really struggling with Mother’s Day for reasons I am not ready to talk about...” instead of stating specifics.
General Framework for Pivoting A Triggering Conversation
In the examples above, we hope you’ve seen a pattern for the framework of rerouting a tough conversation. If you struggle with Mother’s Day for reasons other than the above, or simply want to use this structure for other difficult conversations, here is our recommended approach –
State where you’re at:
I am really struggling with…
This is a difficult conversation for me…
I don’t have the energy/capacity to…
I am not in the place to talk about…
I am feeling…
Keep it brief.
Anger and frustration are common emotions when triggered. To prevent yourself from lashing out entirely (but remember there’s grace if you do!), don’t force the conversation. You don’t have to provide details.
I am not ready to discuss details, but (insert boundary)…
I’ll let you know when I can talk about it. For now, I need a break from this conversation.
Look for a way to calmly redirect the conversation.
Bluntly stating, “I don’t want to talk about this” may launch the other person into guilt or cause them to freeze. And while it isn’t your place to make them feel comfortable, it may make the conversation difficult to recover from. In place, you can try:
Can you tell me about X instead?
I remember you telling me about Y a few weeks ago, is there any update there?
Can you distract me with Z? (your new favorite show, your favorite thing you’ve purchased last month, etc.) – This might be our favorite approach, as it makes the person feel helpful to YOU and equips them to be a good friend to you in the moment.
If you’re reading this because someone you love has a difficult time with Mother’s Day, remember the following:
Don’t tell them “It will get better.”
Refrain from any sentiment that starts with, “You’re lucky…” or “At least…”
Unless you’re in the same situation, don’t tell them you can relate or that you know how they’re feeling
Don’t ignore your person. Unless they ask for space, lean into the difficulty with them.
Ask if your struggling person if like to talk about it or how they’re doing. If they do want to talk about their pain, listen more than you speak. Resist the urge to give advice or try to “fix” the situation.
For when words aren’t enough, check out our “Like A Warrior” Mother’s Day collaboration with Greetabl for unique, personalized gifts to help you support the women in your life who are trying to conceive, have suffered a miscarriage, or have a hard time with Mother’s Day. Use the code FERTILITYTRIBE to get 15% off!