For some of us mother’s day is like watching a dark cloud moving towards you. You see it coming and you can’t stop it. It finally reaches you and that day is a torrential downpour which leaves you feeling a tad worse for wear.
Then the following days are a time where you have to dry off and get your life back on track. For anyone that needs to hear it, this is a reminder of how far you have come independently and the strength that it takes to do just that.
As we wave goodbye to another mother’s day, those without a motherly figure in their lives may be left with feelings of sadness and loneliness that aren’t so easy to run from.
The stark reminder of it being mother’s day is unavoidable as it drowns us in every corner of our lives. The shops are overflowing with buckets of flowers. TV’s are flashing adverts urging us to send cards with personalised messages. And then there is social media – a place where seemingly everyone is singing praises for their mum with family pictures and heartfelt words, with ‘BEST MUM’ ‘COULDN’T LIVE
WITHOUT YOU MUM’ ‘I LOVE YOU MUM’ which is unrelatable for many. Companies have even given the choice to opt out of their marketing for those that wish to stay out of the celebration bubble.
The reality of this? Mother’s Day will show up every year as much as we try to avoid it. The day becomes a mere 24 hours of surviving, but these feelings don’t have a button that enables us to switch off as soon as it’s over. The sadness continues long after Mothering Sunday, when we’ve had the day to compare our lives to others on social media. When we have to recharge our energy levels once more and reset our thoughts to continue with our everyday lives.
Samantha Grace understands the anxiety that arises with mother’s day, and every day for that matter. She left her family home at the age of 16 to move in with her grandparents until she left for university.
“I used university as an escape, and I put my everything into getting the 5A’s I needed to go to Glasgow university, which I did. I’m now 21 and in my final year about to graduate. I would never have imagined coming this far.” Now five years later she is an ally for estranged students and has won an award from Stand Alone charity for raising awareness and voicing the struggles that estranged adults face.
Sam says: “Now I celebrate Mother’s Day by dedicating it to my grandparents and by thinking about all of the influential women around me and the role that they play in my life. Then I’ll order myself a takeaway.
“I also try and focus on the role that I played in raising myself too. I’ve had to put myself first in every situation and be my own mum through everything. I’ve had to be my own support network, my own safety net without relying on anyone else.”
Everyone’s grief is unique by their own experiences, but the important thing is to recognise your grief and how it’s affecting you. We’re also battling a pandemic so if all you do is survive the wave then that is also fine.
“Not only is it hard on Mother’s Day but it is hard every day. It’s difficult seeing everyone on social media posting their mums as it makes me feel different to everyone else. Or when I see my friends doing things on the day I don’t really have that. I try not to compare my life to others, but it’s hard when people’s parents can help them out in life. It really annoys me when people assume that I have that too.
“I just wish people could understand that it isn’t my fault or any sort of personal fault in you that you are estranged from your parents. It’s definitely normal to feel the weight of it all.”
Sam emphasises how important it is for people to openly talk about their feelings with estrangement because of it being such a taboo topic. It’s good to raise awareness and make people feel included, especially when there is so much stigma around everyone having a traditional family support line on days like Mother’s Day.
“If you’re struggling, ask for help and reach out to talk. It’s a scary thing to do but it’s always best to ask and I think the worst that someone will say is no. For me it was the only way I was able to get proper support so it’s definitely worth it. But also keep trying if the first person isn’t helpful, there will be so many others in similar situations.”
Sam takes comfort in looking after yourself by staying off social media until the stories die down. Take time for yourself in whatever way you feel best and for however long you need to recharge. Chat with a friend or go for a walk, just do something.
“I think on a day like mother’s day it’s okay to be passive if that helps you get through, but maybe coming off social media for a while will help you or simply doing something nice for yourself. For the most part I try and surround myself with people who understand, and I won’t tolerate anything less.”
If you are having a hard time seek help and visit the Stand-Alone website here.