Although many people associate Mother's Day with feelings of love and appreciation, the day isn't so sentimental for everyone. If you and your mom have an especially rocky relationship (or no relationship at all), it can be difficult to know exactly how to celebrate Mother's Day when you have a toxic mom. The lead up to Mother's Day, as well as the day itself, can bring up a lot of difficult feelings for those with toxic mothers. Feelings of "I wish" and "if only" can be common as some with toxic mothers mourn the relationship they don't have, but wish they did.
So what's a hurt child to do? Do you still buy her a card? Do you grit your teeth and go to the scheduled family event anyway? Do you call her on the phone? Do you send flowers, a gift, or a text message? It seems reasonable that your treatment of Mother's Day would reflect, at least partially, the relationship dynamic that the two of you share. Dr. Karyl McBride, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and Peg Streep, author of Mean Mothers, co-wrote a piece about Mother's Day for the website for Psychology Today in which they argued that the day should be used both for acknowledging the truths of the relationship you have with your toxic mother while also celebrating moms who have done the best they can. In the case of your mother, however, the best that she could do probably wasn't as much as you needed. Although it may be freeing to acknowledge that your mother is toxic, using Mother's Day to think or speak about it can make for a very emotional day.
Your instinct might be to ignore the day altogether and find something to do where you can pass the time without having to read everyone's long-winded posts about their great moms on Facebook. In a piece she wrote for HuffPost, Melissa Charles acknowledged and validated these feelings, but also suggested that you use the day to honor the mother that you, yourself are, while also celebrating the other women in your life who have been loving, inspiring, and motivating. After all, Mother's Day doesn't have to just be the day you celebrate your biological mom or the woman who raised you.
And the women you do choose to celebrate don't have to be maternal figures. It can also be a nice occasion on which to celebrate sisters, friends, co-workers, and mentors who've pushed you to be the best possible version of yourself, as Charles mentioned in her post.
Additionally, according to a piece by psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Bonet, you shouldn't feel pressured to celebrate your partner's mother on Mother's Day if it's too difficult for you. Talk to your partner and explain how you want or need to spend the day and make sure that you're taking care of yourself. It's likely they already know about your relationship, or lack thereof, with your toxic mother and will understand why you feel the way that you do.
Mother's Day may be sad, emotional, or lonely. But if you want to celebrate the day in some capacity, do so by honoring the ladies in your life who lift you up rather than pull you down. And if you don't want to or can't reach out to your own toxic mother on Mother's Day, don't feel forced to do so. There's a reason you set the boundaries you did in the first place.