The range of feelings that get evoked on the Parenting Holidays is wide and deep, indeed. Whether you’re a woman or a man, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or both can be fraught with emotion.
Aside from the fact that this is a holiday manufactured by Hallmark, in a perfect world, parents deserved to be honored. But when society conspires that a day in May and June are when families are required to gather—lovely as it may be—there are a whole swirl of reasons why this gathering can be torturous for you.
- Is your family dysfunctional? You have enough chaos in your life with treatment alone. When you add your job, running your home and endeavoring to find ways to be distracted from feeling overwhelmed, then contending with dissension in the ranks, expectations, or indelicate questions can be a really unpleasant way to spend a beautiful spring day.
- Is your family functional? This can be problematic as well. Here comes the ambivalence of “my mom/dad deserve to be celebrated but I’m not in the mood to have pregnant bellies in my face or the antics of nieces and nephews grating on my nerves, no matter how much I love them.”
There are deeper, more personal and poignant reasons for the day to be fraught with emotion than the confusion of wanting to/not wanting to participate in a family get together. Among the feelings that might arise are:
- Dread – (What if we never have a baby?)
- Exhaustion – (I’m tired of this relentless challenge and not in the mood to smile.)
- Anger – (Everyone I know has it so easy.)
- Insecurity – (I don’t know how to navigate the many decisions.)
- Impatience – (When will this end?)
- Negativity – (Nothing goes my way.)
- Anxiety – (I feel as if I’m about to jump out of my skin.)
- Low Self-Esteem – (This is bigger than I am; I’m starting to forget who I used to be.)
- Despair – (Maybe we should give up.)
And it’s not like these feelings wouldn’t plague you on any random day. It’s just that these feelings do not mix well with the expectation of a jovial family Bar B Q.
Knowledge is power. Might any of these issues be wreaking havoc with your emotions?
- Did you like the way you were parented?
- What is your relationship with your Mom?
- With your Dad?
- Are your parents or in-laws divorced?
- Is your fertility quest out in the open?
- Are you out-of-sync with your partner at this moment?
- Are you swinging from trees because of the hormones?
- Are you in a two-week wait?
- Are you worried about money?
Personal psycho-dynamics flow; both from our nature and how we are nurtured. As a rule, early imprints come through life with us and may be contributing to what can disrupt Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. You may be pleasantly surprised to realize that by giving voice to the above issues (which might be lurking underneath your conscious awareness), you rob the inner demon of its power.
Besides talking these issues through, how to get relief on a day when this potpourri of emotions intensifies?
- Recognize that this is an endurance test. You need stamina and resilience. These will prevent you from giving up before the miracle.
- Identify what other coping skill you need to develop.
- Find ways to reclaim your self-esteem.
- If you lack perspective, get help!
- Learn and practice mind/body stress-reduction techniques. This can make a huge difference and is the key to resiliency.
- If push comes to shove, you can exercise your entitlement to protect yourself from pain by not going.
Within every crisis an opportunity waits. These parenting days are a chance to find ways to become a new, improved version of yourself. In the final analysis, you can be among those who come out of the experience with both a family and a clearer sense of your strength and capacities.
Keep hope alive!
Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD