Today is the seventh mother’s day I’ll be spending without my mum. For me, it’s arguably the worst day of the year. Days like the anniversary and her birthday are difficult but they’re private. Nobody outside of my family takes notice or even knows. I can usually be a bit sad, grieve in private, and get on with my day.
Mother’s Day on the other hand is a massive kick in the gut. And it’s not like it’s just one day either. As soon as Valentine’s Day ends, shops change overnight to their mother’s day stock. Every year I am caught off guard, and there have been several years I’ve come home crying because it’s everywhere. A constant reminder of what I don’t have. ‘Treat your mum this mother’s day!’ about 10 different shops have in their window within 100 metres. Except I can’t.
Some years I struggle fairly overtly. I’ll cry a lot, I’ll actively avoid any and all conversations about the topic. I’ll pretend it doesn’t happen and stay off social media a lot around the day, because seeing everyone’s Instagram and Facebook posts is just too damn hard. This year hasn’t been so bad – I think it’s partly because I no longer have to go through a shopping centre every day and so I just haven’t had the opportunity to be bombarded as much. Living in halls at University, I don’t have a TV and so I don’t have to watch advert after advert going on about it. But it’s affected me nonetheless.
I was doing fairly well with my anxiety, it had been months since I’d had a major panic attack. And then about three weeks ago I had a terrifying panic attack, and since I’ve been far more anxious than I normally am. Last week I was sick, which was partially due to the stress of imminent deadlines and living in a building with 60 other people, but I also think it was partially due to being stressed about Mother’s Day.
I know I’m very lucky to still have many maternal figures in my life. My stepmum is great most of the time – she’s friendly and looks out for me without trying to be my mum. And I still have both of my grandmothers, although my relationship with my maternal grandmother has always been slightly stilted.
I’m not sure how this Mother’s Day will be for me. I was luckily able to visit Mum’s grave on Friday and lay some flowers there with my brother and dad which made me feel a lot better, getting to spend a little time with her in my own way. The main thing I’ve learned to try and do is just let myself feel my emotions and not bury them – that’s not helpful at all. And maybe staying off Facebook and Instagram for the sake of my mental health.
Mother’s Day is always tricky, but I’m hoping that it will be okay. And I hope that whether your mum is still with you or not that you have a lovely day wherever you are.