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Mom, Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Celebrated

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard.

Parenting is difficult. Being a mother is especially difficult. Mothers often take or are given the responsibility for the success and/or failure of their children. So, mothers may feel disingenuous being celebrated. Mother’s Day, in particular, brings along its own set of expectations for moms. 

For some moms, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate “perfect moms” who do it all right, all the time. The struggle comes when a mom believes she is the only one who seems to not be perfect. In her mind, she focuses on what she isn’t doing, hasn’t done, or can’t do. 

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard. 

Here are some reasons why you, as a mom, should be celebrated.

1. You are doing a valuable job.

Many people think for something to be valuable, it has to be worth something tangible, like money. However, you can’t place a price tag on being a mother. Motherhood is priceless. Throughout the years of motherhood, there’s a plethora of roles and responsibilities. Yet, the main goal is to raise your child to become an independent, responsible ADULT. 

2. Being a mother is hard work.

I am the mother of 3 sons. One day, my middle son asked me, “Is it hard being a mom?” I thought for a minute. My answer to him was, “Yes, it’s hard, but what’s really hard is being 3 different moms at the same time.” 

I explained to him that I have to be Mom for each of them. How I discipline, communicate, and interact is different for each one. Recognizing that I have to mother (parent) them as individuals, not as a group, takes time, energy, effort, and focus. 

3. You are the mother your children need.

As mothers, we worry about making sure that our children have what they need. Or are we concerned about what they want? We don’t want them to feel like they don’t have what all their friends have, from shoes and clothes to gaming systems and vacations. What our children need from us includes our time, love, attention, affection, presence, and guidance. 

4. You have endured.

Whether your children are toddlers, teens, or adults you have made it to this point. You may have survived things like sleepless nights, cranky babies, temperamental teens, tantrums, and many, many other things. You’ve made it past showerless days and puke-scented clothing. There is value in looking back and naming what you and your child(ren) have survived in your parenting journey. If you are honest, there could have been times you didn’t think you would make it. 

You are not alone. 

We’ve all had moments of fear, anxiety, frustrations, and anger. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. You are just a mom who is trying to “keep it in the road.” 

Remember, perfection isn’t the standard. 

If you survive, you have won.

5. You DESERVE it.

Moms can be some of the worst at accepting praise and celebration. We struggle with thinking that we don’t need to be rewarded or celebrated for what moms are supposed to do. Or the other thought process is that we don’t deserve to be celebrated. 

I had a friend lovingly confront me with this question: “Would you rather be tolerated by your family or celebrated by your family?” 

Please, please, please allow your friends and family to appreciate you. 

You definitely DESERVE it.

Other helpful blogs:

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day With a Difficult Mom

These tips may make it a little easier.

Whether your relationship with your mom is a tad problematic or off-the-charts unhealthy, celebrating your mom on Mother’s Day can be difficult.

She might get on your nerves or make you feel like she’s constantly judging you. 

Maybe you think your mom is a horrible parent, or you had a misunderstanding that seems impossible to overcome — and nobody wants to make the first move toward reconciliation. 

Perhaps the pain is so deep that you can’t forgive or move forward. Or maybe you feel your mom is toxic, and cutting her out of your life seems like the safest thing to do emotionally. [Read 4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety.]

It’s a tough road to walk. And it makes Mother’s Day tricky to celebrate.

But whether you choose to visit your mom or stay far away for the holiday, chances are you’ll be thinking of each other in some way.

Whatever your situation, thinking about these six things may make it a bit easier to find some way to celebrate a difficult mom on Mother’s Day. 

(Notice I said “may” and “easier” — not “definitely” OR “easy.” And there’s no excuse for abusive behavior. If that has happened to you, I’m so sorry!)

1. If you’re expecting perfection, you’ll be disappointed.

Here’s the thing: Nobody has a perfect mother. And nobody can be the perfect mother. But we all probably have an idea of what the perfect mother would look like. Unfortunately, our ideals often cause us to have unrealistic expectations that no one can meet. (Unless you’re married and your mother-in-law is perfect. That’s a whole other issue.)

2. Appreciate what you can.

There’s always something to be thankful for (at least according to Pollyanna). So, dig deep and think of what those things could be. Celebrate them, no matter how small. I recently went through some memorabilia my mom collected throughout the years. I found little love notes and cards I wrote my mom as a child. It reminded me that at one time, I thought she hung the moon. 

3. Celebrate your mom for who you want her to be.

She might surprise you and rise to meet the challenge. You may need to use your imagination. Maybe you can’t honestly tell your mom how great she is, but you might be able to write her a letter, or send a card or text to say you’re thinking of her on Mother’s Day. (Even if your thoughts aren’t that great, it’s a start.)

4. Time changes people and perceptions.

As a child, did you ever think your mom didn’t know anything? Did your perspective change when you realized being an adult was a little more… complicated? I can tell you from experience that I see things differently as an adult. I learned some things I didn’t know. My perspective has shifted over the years.

5. You may know your mom as a parent, but do you know her as a person?

Understand the things that shaped her life? Did a loss profoundly impact her? What were her parents like? Parents are people who have stuff they need to deal with, just like we do. Life throws all kinds of things at us, and sometimes we aren’t equipped to handle it. But trying to understand what makes your mom tick can be helpful, especially if she isn’t the parent you wanted or needed.

6. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to do this alone.

Many people have a rocky relationship with their mom, but not everyone feels safe enough to discuss it with their mom or a friend. If you need to talk, but you don’t want everyone knowing your business, pain, or struggles, a good counselor can help you take the space you need to stay positive and move away from bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness can bring emotional and physical benefits that are healing for the person who chooses to forgive, regardless of what another does. If possible, forgive your mom, whether she asks you to or not.

Things may not get better today or ever, but there’s hope that your situation will change. You may learn to navigate through the conflict or at least improve the relationship. One of you might take a step toward a healthy conversation and forgiveness. That may be all it takes. And one day, it might be easier for you to celebrate more things about your mom on Mother’s Day. I hope it is.

Other helpful blogs:

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6 Things You Can Do to Help a Child Who Is Grieving the Death of a Parent

Adults in the child's life are essential to help them grieve in a healthy way.

Death is often a difficult topic to discuss. It’s even more challenging to consider how you can help a child through the death of a parent. No matter what age, the death of a parent shifts your foundation. Therefore, it’s even more critical to find ways to support and help a child grieving the death of a parent. 

Parents provide safety and security for their children. After a parent dies, the child’s needs may vary according to their age, maturity, and personality. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to grief. These children have unique needs that should be met. 

Here are 6 things you can do to help a child who is grieving the death of a parent:

1. Be aware of your own grief and emotions.

It’s not easy to help a child through grief if you don’t acknowledge and work through your own. Grief is the process through which you deal with a loss. In this case, a friend or loved one died and left a child or children behind. Recognizing this allows you to process your grief so you don’t unintentionally make this loss only about you. 

2. Be careful how you communicate with the child.

Because people tend to be uncomfortable talking about death, they often use well-intentioned phrases that do more harm than good. Sayings like:

 “They are in a better place.”

“They just went to sleep.”

“One day, you will get over this.”

While you may mean well, think carefully about saying something just to say something. You may even need to listen more than you talk.

3. Be prepared for the child to express a variety of behaviors.

Children can display so many emotions after their parent dies, including fear, sadness, or anger. They may experience separation anxiety when away from the surviving parent or caregivers. Additionally, they may experience the following regressive behaviors, including using baby talk, bedwetting, or waking in the middle of the night. Stomachaches may become common complaints. Eating habits may change also. It’s essential to be aware of the frequency and intensity of any behavioral changes. 

4. Be age-appropriately honest with them.

Children often have questions after the death of a parent. How did it happen? Is it gonna happen to you? Is it gonna happen to them? First, talk with their surviving parent to find out what they shared with the child. That can prepare you to answer questions within the framework they’ve established. Honesty is vital. Your honest answers help rebuild trust and security. In your desire to help, consistency and reliability are essential, too. You want to under-promise and over-deliver rather than over-promise and underdeliver. Do everything you can to follow through with what you say you will do.

5. Be award that grief is an ongoing process.

Many people come around in the immediate aftermath. However, the kids will need you for the long haul. The hard truth is that a child never gets over the death of a parent or stops grieving their loss, though the experience of grief may morph over time. Kids may seem to bounce back from the loss. As a result, we want to believe that children are resilient and won’t be affected long-term. As comforting as this might sound, unfortunately, it’s not true. The intensity may lessen over time, but the parent they lost won’t be there for life milestones (i.e., Birthdays, Holidays, Proms, Graduations, Weddings).  

6. Be proactive in helping the child find ways to remember their parent.

Some people think that remembering a parent who died causes children pain. Attempting to minimize the pain, people often decide to remove photos or rarely mention or discuss the parent. On the contrary, remembering helps with the grieving process. Memories give a child a picture of who their parent was, what they liked, and how they lived. 

Losing a parent can be one of the most challenging things a child (or even an adult) can experience. The adults in the child’s life are essential to help them grieve in a healthy way. As you journey with them, be a listening ear, a safe place to land, and a consistent presence in their lives.

Other helpful resources:

6 Things You Need to Know About Grief

At its most ideal, the grieving process leads to growth.

Nobody likes grief. Or, at least I haven’t met anyone yet who does. Maybe it’s because we know grief is the process someone goes through to work through any kind of loss. And no one likes to lose things or people they love. 

Unfortunately, every one of us will go through it. And if you already have, chances are you will again. I don’t mean to be a downer. It’s just that life is full of losses, whether it’s a job, the end of a relationship, a kid leaving for college, or the death of someone you love. But, there is hope.

Fact is, grief is necessary. It’s what allows us to walk through all the emotions that come with a loss and continue to be healthy individuals. It’s painful, uncomfortable, sometimes dreadful. But in the long run, it does what it’s supposed to do: It helps you work through the loss

Here are some things you need to know about grief to understand this process better. 

1. Grief runs a course, but it’s not the same for everyone.

No one grieves in the same way. There are no predictable steps or stages. In general, the shock and emotions that come with grief should move from more intense and frequent to less over time. But the pace can vary from person to person.  

2. When a loss first happens, presence is the best support.

You may know what it’s like to feel the shock of a significant loss. You often can’t think straight. Things people say go in one ear and out the other. I can’t remember a single thing anyone said to me at my dad’s funeral; I put on a happy face, but my brain was a fog. However, I do remember who was there at my side. Presence is a strong source of support. 

3. Some people have a more complicated reaction to a loss.

The researchers call it complicated grief. It’s when strong grief responses – those intense emotions, the effects of shock – persist over a long time without letting up. More problematic issues can arise from this, like depression or a deep sense of loneliness. Lots of factors play into why this happens. A professional therapist or a grief support group can help a great deal with complicated grief. 

4. Emotional health before a loss can determine the grief process.

Research gives a strong indication that the more emotionally healthy you are, the less likely you are to experience complicated grief. Those prone to high anxiety, depression, loneliness, or unresolved relational issues often have a more challenging time with a loss. Staying emotionally healthy and being intentional with self-care is an excellent preventative measure for when loss hits. 

5. Grief may not go away.

What I mean is, years down the road, something may spark a memory of who or what you lost, causing an emotional response. This is normal and healthy. Don’t judge it or yourself negatively. It’s simply part of the process.

6. Grief changes a person, and that can be a good thing.

Going through grief usually causes you to consider your perspectives on life and death, your values, and what you put meaning behind. It clarifies what’s important and prompts different behavior on the other side of the loss. At its most ideal, grief leads to growth. 

You may be working through grief at the moment or know someone who is. It’s been helpful for me to remember that there is hope in grief. You can recover from a loss. The shock and pain aren’t forever. And even though things may never go back to “normal,” life will function again as you grow from your grief. 

Other helpful resources: 

4 Ways You Can Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Death of a Loved One

Your loved one needs you, whether they admit it or not.

At the age of 16, I lost my grandmother. She wasn’t the first loved one I had lost, but it affected me differently. My Memaw was my hero; I witnessed her long battle with diabetes and cancer. The grief was complicated. When my wife was 29, she lost her grandmother. They were extremely close growing up, but at the age of 12, my wife moved to this country and only saw her grandmother once over the next 17 years. Her grieving looked much different than mine. She is still grieving the loss.

When your friend or family member loses a parent, grandparent, spouse, child, or another person close to them, their responses may look different, and that’s ok. We all grieve for various lengths of time, sometimes with extreme emotions. Though the process varies from person to person, you can be a source of support and strength as you meet others where they are in their grief.

Here are four ways you can help a friend or loved one who is grieving:

1. Be present.

Be there, and be attentive to their needs. Remember, their grief may look different than yours. Maybe they want to talk about the loved one they just lost. Perhaps they just want to grab a drink and talk about anything else. Maybe they just need you to sit with them as they process. No matter what this looks like for them, be there.

2. Be helpful.

When grieving, it’s often tough to respond when someone says, “Do you need anything?” Many of us say it with the best intentions, though. But the grieving person isn’t thinking about what they need. Look for opportunities to serve them. Cut their grass. Bring them food. Pick up their groceries. Pay close attention to their needs, and don’t hesitate to meet whatever needs you can. If you’re not sure what they need, ask those closest to them. 

3. Be there for the long haul.

Grief doesn’t have a timetable. Some people grieve for a short period; others grieve for years. Again, there is no correct timetable. Be there for your loved one for the duration of their grieving.

If you live close, drop by and check on them periodically. Take them out to coffee or ice cream. If you live further away, mail them cards, call, or video chat. Be intentional about being there for them. They need you to stay engaged throughout their grief. 

4. Be mindful of the potential for depression.

It’s common for a grieving person to feel depressed or lonely. As you remain present and engaged with them, be on the lookout for any signs of depression. Grief may come and go depending on the people present or situation. Depression tends to be more persistent. Be aware of warning signs of depression. 

Here are a few warning signs to look for:

  • Their depression is not centered on the loss.
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks.
  • Excessive anger or guilt. 
  • Withdrawing from others.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse.
  • Talking about suicide.

If your loved one is experiencing signs of depression, help them get help from a counselor or the Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255).

Grief is an uncomfortable process, but it’s necessary. Your loved one needs you, whether they admit it or not. Walk with them through their grief no matter how long the process. Be there for them and love them as best you can.

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How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Death of a Spouse

Try these tips for wading into the discomfort in order to comfort.

Supporting a friend who’s grieving the death of a loved one is often awkward. When they are mourning the passing of their spouse, it’s especially tough. What do you say? What can you do? How do you provide support without being intrusive, offensive, or just saying the wrong things? While there is no pain like losing one’s husband or wife, knowing some things about the grieving process can inform you how you can help someone grieving the death of a spouse.

Remember what grief is. 

Grief is usually associated with pain, and nobody wants to see their friend hurting. So we typically respond (often subconsciously) with the hope of taking away the pain. I think that’s why many people try to say comforting things that turn out to be awkward. They’re trying to alleviate the pain that simply cannot be alleviated at that time. It’s the necessary process of working through a loss. A person who experiences loss has to grieve because that’s how you work through the loss. Remember that every person grieves at their own pace, in their own time, in different waves and intensities of emotions. Supporting someone who’s grieving the death of their spouse means walking with them in their grief at their pace.  

Sometimes your silent presence is the only support your friend needs at the time, especially at the beginning of the loss. 

Often, grieving family members are in a state of shock the first couple of weeks (and sometimes longer). When my dad passed away, I honestly can’t remember anything that was said to me at the funeral. But I do remember who was there by my side, and it still means the world to me today. Presence often speaks volumes. 

In the following weeks and months, be proactive to reach out. 

After a week or so, people distant from the loss have moved on, unaware that the grieving spouse is far from it. This is when they may find themselves most alone, ironically, when they are more open (and less in shock) to talk with others. Continue to check in with your friend regularly. Set a reminder on your phone. This could be a good time to ask how they are holding up, how they’ve been feeling, and what you can do to help (questions that typically don’t make much sense in the first few days of the loss). 

Understand a person who loses their spouse will always be in some state of grief. It doesn’t mean they’ll always feel pain. 

But they’ll be processing life without this person for as long as they live. Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries will always prompt memories. A song, a scene on TV, or a particular meal will cause emotions to well up, even years down the road. As a friend, be conscious of this. Don’t be afraid to ask about what these things meant to them and their spouse. Allow them to share as much as they’d like. Processing loss is often done through these kinds of situations, memories, or objects. 

Finally, remember: grief is uncomfortable. The process is rarely easy. And it’s going to be uncomfortable for you, the friend who wants to help. Supporting your friend means wading into the discomfort and the pain with them, sometimes in silence and sometimes with encouragement, knowing that the process is healthy and intensity won’t last. That is being truly helpful, and I commend you for your loyalty to your grieving friend who is dealing with the death of their spouse. 

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4 Reasons Your Relationship Issues are a “You” Problem

An honest look can help you be a better version of yourself.

When I was in college, one of my favorite shows to watch was The Late, Late Show with David Letterman. He was known to have funny skits as well as the famous Top 10 list. 

You’re probably wondering why I’m taking this stroll down memory lane.

Well, you’re probably reading this because you have had issues in multiple relationships with friends, family, work, and dating. And it may be getting to the point where you begin to wonder some things like:

  • Why do friends and family keep ghosting me? 
  • Why can’t I seem to get along with anyone at my job?
  • How do I get others to see that my way actually works better than theirs most of the time?
  • Do I want to have all the control in my relationships?

The answer may be that your relationship issues are a “you” problem. 

Here are 4 reasons which signal that relationship issues are a “you” problem. (Look at this as my version of David Letterman’s Top 10, except there’s only 4.)

1. It’s never your fault.

When you don’t take or acknowledge any responsibility for problems in your life, that is the epitome of a “you” problem. The blame can’t be and isn’t always on everyone else. People make mistakes and missteps, including you. Accountability and self-awareness are keys to effectively process how you impact your life and the lives of others around you.

2. You lack self-awareness.

Take some time to think about your past relationships. Look for patterns and tendencies, not of past partners, but YOUR OWN. Were you critical? Did you always have to be right? Did you listen? It’s essential to examine your behavior in the relationship. In taking an honest look at yourself, you may find some things that you don’t like to see or that you were unaware you did. 

3. You notice similar negative patterns.

Maybe you become comfortable with the way things go in your life. You get takeout from your favorite restaurants and get your clothes from your favorite stores. We also have patterns in our relationships. You may have met your former significant others in similar ways. When you look back at your previous relationships and recognize many unhealthy issues and commonalities between them, that may be a “you” problem.

4. It’s your way or the highway.

It’s normal to want to have some say over what happens in your life. Or to be concerned about what happens in the lives of those you care about. It’s another thing altogether to consciously or unconsciously believe that the people in your life should automatically defer to you about the desires in their lives. It can be a “you” problem when people move out or are moved out of your life because they don’t respond in the way you would like.

When problems arise in your life, it’s essential to look at the person in the mirror. This is not to say that everything is a “you” problem. But, you do contribute to the problem. Being open to changing, growing, or adapting as needed is a significant first step toward correcting “you” problems. 

Growing isn’t meant to stop you from being you, but to help you be a better version of yourself. Once you are a better “you,” then forming meaningful relationships becomes easier. 

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4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety

Create the connection you crave in your closest relationships.

What is emotional safety?

Emotional safety. Does that sound like a lofty concept? Let’s break it down. Emotional is defined as relating to one’s feelings. Safety means keeping yourself or others free from harm. So, put them together, and what does emotional safety mean? When you’re emotionally safe, you’ve removed yourself as a barrier to others freely being themselves. Recent neurobiology research by Dr. Stephen Porges reveals that emotional safety is one of the most important aspects of connection in a relationship.

Here are some things to know about emotional safety.

Emotional safety comes from within. It starts with you. It consists of identifying your feelings and being able to feel them. 

Emotional safety means revealing your true self to another person. It is expressing who you are, including your hurts, fears, and dreams. It’s expressing yourself authentically, sharing dissatisfaction, fears, and insecurities, and having a conversation without it blowing up into an argument. It’s sharing without fear of shaming, yelling, or rejection.

We all need at least one person with whom we can be ourselves.

Ideally, marriage is a safe space for you and your spouse to reveal your true selves. Parenthood allows you to create a safe environment for your children to grow and learn who they are as individuals. And friendship is a space where you can be the most real you.

Why does emotional safety matter?

Emotional safety is essential in any relationship, whether romantic, family, friends, or co-workers.

When we trust that someone else can see, hear, and understand us, we relax more with them. We open up about who we are and feel connected. Emotional safety is reciprocal. When we are safe for someone else, we deepen our relationship.

When you feel emotionally safe, you are more likely to be your best self and contribute to your greatest ability. You are free to dream, collaborate, create, share, and express yourself. When we open up and do this in a safe environment, we invite others to do the same. 

In relationships, we need to feel safe before we can be vulnerable. Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” Safety creates a foundation for intimacy and closeness.

How do you build & keep emotional safety?

Now, we have a good idea of what emotional safety is. We can examine our relationships and see where it exists. But, how do we build it if it doesn’t exist? 

The foundation is trust. We can’t feel safe with someone if we don’t trust them. Building emotional safety requires building and keeping trust. Trust is a two-way street. It’s built with honesty, credibility, communication, and authenticity.

Another important piece of emotional safety is recognizing what not to do in relationships. We may not be aware of the subtle ways we cause harm with sarcasm, blaming, or shaming others. Instead, traits like respect, kindness, and appreciation foster safety.

Here are some actions you can take to maintain emotional safety:

  • Be consistent. Be there for your spouse, child, friend, or co-worker. When you are consistently present, others see you as reliable and trustworthy.
  • Listen actively. Listen to learn, not to respond. I often struggle with this. We have to slow down and listen.
  • Be curious, not judgmental. Be interested in what the other person is interested in. Ask questions. 
  • Lead with empathy and compassion. Feel what they feel and genuinely care about who they are and what they believe.

What happens if emotional safety isn’t there?

A lack of emotional safety leads to disconnection. Disconnection is a massive threat to a relationship. When we feel disconnected, we begin to feel lonely and distant, and the relationship can start to crumble.

If you feel disconnected from someone, try to find out what’s going on. It could be you. It could be them. If you can, talk about it and make a plan to rebuild your connection.  

Take steps today to create emotional safety in at least one of your relationships. Start by seeing if you’re in tune with your own emotions. If you are, make sure you’re maintaining it well. We all need emotional safety in our relationships.

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