Mother’s Day is tomorrow. It’s a difficult holiday in a convoluted sort of way–convoluted, because you want to celebrate mothers everywhere, but you also want to be cognizant of all the people who, for various reasons, find it a difficult day.

Be clear: I’m not arguing that you should not celebrate the holiday. Enjoy your joy. Recognize that others experience certain sorrows. And if you are one who finds it sorrowful, allow others their joy also; your day of joy will come another time.

In our home, we celebrate Mother’s Day because my wife has been a good mother to our children. We also celebrate with sadness because both our other mothers are gone, and one of our children cannot interact with us because of her disability–that always hurts a mother’s heart (and a father’s).

We know people who choose not to have children, and we respect those choices.

We know people whose mothers were abusive, for whom all the cloying celebrations burn like salt rubbed on scraped skin.

We know people who have tried to have children, who are unable to conceive or who have had miscarriages, for whom Mother’s Day is a constant reminder of unfulfilled hope.

We know people in the disabilities community whose constant fears for their children deepen on Mother’s Day.

We also know people whose children have died, for whom Mother’s Day is another occasion among many to rip open a wound.

I miss my mom. I am in awe of my wife. I hurt for my child.

But isn’t that life? Do any of us experience monochromatic joy and fulfillment every day?

For those of us with happy memories and good relations with our mothers, let us enjoy the day to its fullest. If your mom is still alive, and it is appropriate to your experience, take the time to thank her and, perhaps, comfort and confirm her as she ages.

For those of us with not-so-happy memories and bad relations with our mothers, perhaps it is a good time to rejoice with friends or bond with others with similar struggles. Grief is as appropriate as any other human emotion. If you are in this category, may you experience healing through the focus of this day’s lens.

For those who are reminded of hopes that never came about or were cut short, celebrate your own nurturing nature. Don’t hide from grief, but also don’t lose sight of other kinds of joy.

I had a conversation with a colleague just yesterday in which he said his two great regrets in life were a) never having had children, and b) not having appreciated his mother enough while he had her (she suddenly died relatively young). A teacher by profession, he recognized that his students were his “kids.” Somewhere, there is someone who is grateful for the nurturing and support you gave. Somewhere, there is someone who nurtured and supported you.

This is a complexly-flavored holiday. Taste it to the fullest, in whatever way is appropriate for you.

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