Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a strained relationship with my mother based on some recent events (within the last calendar year). This will be the first Mother’s Day where we aren’t speaking to each other. It’s a long story but boundaries were crossed and it’s in the best interest of both parties to maintain this distance at least for the time being.
I did not expect to be so overwhelmed with emotion coming up on this holiday. I have decided I don’t want to reach out or acknowledge the day, but I also wonder if that’s selfish or childish. Any advice would be appreciated!
The Mother of All Issues
I'm sorry to hear that you and your mom are in a rough season right now. I have to believe that’s more normal and common than you think. Families are hard, and relationships are work. Without knowing all of the details about what happened, it seems like your ability to see the situation in terms of boundaries and distance is important. Based on what you wrote, it also seems like this issue may be temporary, and with some time and space you may be able to eventually reconcile.
Mother’s Day is a holiday, and just like any other holiday, it encourages spending money and material consumption.
I realize that you probably understand all of this, but coming up against endless Mother’s Day reminders in every direction can make it feel like everyone has a charming, perfect relationship with their mother that will be celebrated this weekend. That’s not true. Remember that: It’s just not true. What you’re seeing is marketing and advertising. Mother’s Day is a holiday, and just like any other holiday, it encourages spending money and material consumption. Do some people get to spend heartfelt moments with their mothers on that day in peace and harmony? I mean, sure, I guess? But that’s not your reality right now, and that’s OK.
A day on the calendar does not dictate the state of what’s going on between you and your mother. It should not pressure you to do anything that does not feel authentic to you right now. And if you do feel like reaching out or sending flowers, don’t let Mother’s Day make you feel like gestures hold more weight than if you were to reach out on a random weekday in August. Reaching out is valid. Not reaching out is also valid. You are in charge. It’s not childish and it’s not selfish if you’re taking care of yourself. And if you take care of yourself now, you’ll be in a better place to tend to your relationships with others in the future.
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