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How to make Mother's Day less painful, when you're childless not by choice

I’d had as much as I could take. I’d forgotten that it was Mother’s Day when I went to church that morning, and by the end of the service I just couldn’t stop myself from crying.


On that morning five years ago I wasn’t only crying for myself: I felt so sad, too, for a couple of my friends who’d always wanted children, and who didn’t have any. None of us were mothers, even though we’d really wanted to be.


Another friend was in the pew in front of me, with her three little children, and she was very alert to the sensitivity of the occasion, and she turned round and gave me a hug. But I’m not sure how many other people in the church at that moment realised how hard this day can be, for very many people, for a wide variety of reasons.


If you’re “childless not by choice” then you might find Mother’s Day difficult to cope with, too. If that’s the case, then my heart goes out to you: I understand how painful it can be.


So much attention goes on the women who are mothers – and it’s appropriate that they’re celebrated and loved and appreciated. What they contribute to their families - and to society as a whole - is invaluable, and it’s a role which takes a great deal of patience, strength and commitment.


And so the tradition of celebrating mothers in this way is not in any way intended to cause other people pain.


But for people who are not mothers; or who have lost their mother, or their child; or who have difficult family relationships, then this day can be a reminder of what they don’t have - or of what they’ve lost - and they can end up feeling very sad, and just trying to survive it, rather than celebrating.


Although no one had intended it, by the end of that morning I felt lonely, excluded, like a failure, and worthless and un-valued. It felt like a club that I’d been prevented from joining. If you’re struggling with Mother’s Day then here are some suggestions for how you can help to ease the pain and make it easier to cope with.

1. Have compassion for what you're going through

Don’t beat yourself up for how you’re feeling: it’s really understandable if you’re feeling upset, and there’s nothing you need to apologise for.

When we feel sad because we’re not mothers ourselves, we’re not in any way devaluing the day for others, and it’s possible to be pleased for them and sad for ourselves both at the same time. It’s really OK to have strong and mixed emotions about all of this, and there’s nothing wrong with you, however you’re feeling.

2. Remember that you're not alone

It can often feel like you’re the only one who’s not a mother, and that can feel very lonely and isolating. I can remember being with a group of female friends on one occasion, when one of them began a sentence with “We’re all proud mummies here…” and I thought at the time, “No, we’re not!!” - but on that occasion I don’t think anyone else noticed that.


Although the people around you may not be sensitive to how you’re feeling, and they may have no clue what it’s like to wish you had children when you haven’t, there are plenty of people who do know exactly what it’s like.


There are a number of organisations where you can be in contact with - and get support from - others who empathise and who share the experience. I do really encourage you to seek this kind of companionship and support, if you think it might be helpful.

3. It's OK to protect and cocoon yourself

Don’t feel you have to join in with Mother’s Day celebrations. You don’t have to go out, and it’s OK to shelter yourself from all the promotions online, on television and in magazines and newspapers; and from photographs and posts on social media.

I know that this can be easier said than done! But if it makes it easier to try to ignore the date, then by all means do that. You’re not being judgemental or anti-social: you’re just “practising self-care” – and that’s a very sensible thing to do.

4. EFT "tapping" can help to change the way you feel

Emotional Freedom Techniques (commonly known as “tapping”) is a gentle and effective self-help tool which you can use to alter and soften strong emotions, whenever you feel them.

Although I’ve had twelve miscarriages, and I don’t have any children, I generally find myself these days feeling very happy, peaceful and well, in spite of all of this, and “tapping” is one of two techniques which I’ve used over the years to help me reach this point now.

On the whole I generally experience Mother’s Day with a degree of ease and equanimity, and that’s why I support other people to be happier and more peaceful, if they’ve had miscarriages or if they find themselves “childless not by choice”.

I know that it IS possible to feel happier than you do now, and that it isn’t a difficult process to achieve that. You won’t have to feel like this for ever, and you too can feel more happy and peaceful, whatever your life circumstances are.

5. Be very kind and gentle with yourself

What can you do to nurture and soothe yourself, at this time? - eating nice food; spending time with friends, or pets; watching cheering programs and movies; baking; arts and crafts; going for a walk, or having a relaxing bath – these are all things which you might find enjoyable.

Whatever it is that you’re dealing with, try to be kind to yourself, and to treat yourself gently – as you would want a friend of yours to take care of herself, if she was going through the same things that you are.

Remember that you’re not alone, and take precautions to protect yourself as much as you need to. If I can be of any support, or if you have any questions, do please be in touch. I’m sending you lots of love, and wishing you all the very best.

~ Rosalind xxx