Posted by Debbie Whitehill

With Mother's Day just around the corner, we are overwhelmed with advertisements urging us to send flowers, buy gifts, and treat our moms to a meal, that is, if we can find a restaurant with an opening or time to cook. All of this assumes a lot, but mostly, that we are blessed with mothers to honor and appreciate. Plus for new moms, it may set our expectations that someone will celebrate our motherhood.

This is not the case for everyone. Some of us don't have our mothers anymore, and some of us have mothers who did not provide a model for the way we would like to mother our children. Some of us have partners who support us, and some of us don't.

One of my colleagues wrote a column about her experience with Mother's Day. She said:

"How I felt about Mother's Day was pretty clear for the first seven years after my mother died: I was not a fan. But eight days before Mother's Day of 2003, I gave birth to my twin daughters. Suddenly, the day had new meaning. Mother's Day, with all its hoopla and commercialization, no longer felt like a day whose sole purpose was to remind me–and others like me–that my mother had died. No. Now, it's so much more complicated.

Life without my mom is frustrating and sad. And it's lonely, despite my abundant circle of family and friends. Of course, I wish she could witness the milestones: my wedding, the girls' births, birthdays, recitals. But almost more importantly, I wish she were a phone call away (better yet, a short car trip) to share our daily lives. So many years later, I'm still surprised sometimes when I realize I can't call her. I think about my mother every day."

On the other side are moms we meet who say, "My mom never told me she loved me," or "I don't feel like my mom was emotionally there for me," or "It's always about her and her needs, including as a grandma. She will only help when it suits her, not when I need her." It's also not uncommon for us to hear, "I could never be good enough for my mom. She would say she loved me, but then turn on a dime to let me know how I failed." Understandably for these women, Mother's Day can feel more like a harsh reminder, rather than a day of joy and celebration.

This year on Mother's Day, let's try to be sensitive to others. This year, let's find a moment to be grateful for the special, supportive people in our lives, even if they're not our moms. And this year, on Mother's Day and beyond, let's give ourselves a much-deserved pat on the back for doing the hardest job on the planet every day of the year.