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The Truth About Mother’s Day

Did you know the founder of Mother’s Day, peace activist Anna Jarvis, spent much of her life boycotting the very holiday she helped conceive? Don’t believe me? Consult Wikipedia. I love that the founder of this modern day Hallmark holiday was a peace activist. I love that she cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. I love how she wanted to continue the work her mother started. You know what I don’t love? Mother’s Day. And I know I’m not alone.

You see Mother’s Day is a trigger for me in more ways than one. Seven years ago I made a phone call to my brother, Will, to ask him if he had gotten anything for our mom. I never got an answer to my question. A strange man answered Will’s cell. He told me he was a police officer and that Will had just crashed his motorcycle and was being airlifted to Boston. My parents didn’t even know yet. Mother’s Day became the day that Will could have died. It became the day that he became a paraplegic. It became the day that depression, anxiety, and trauma seeped into my life. It became the day where I lost part of myself. I grieved the loss of Will’s physical ability to walk. I grieved the loss of my quiet, ordinary life. And while my mom did not physically die, I grieved the loss of the mom she used to be.

In December of 2010 I myself became a mom. While Miles’ birth was physically and emotionally traumatic, becoming a mother has helped me heal. Motherhood is about love, but it is partly about loss. It is loss that is the vehicle for empathy. It is empathy that affords us connection with one another. After I became a mother I grieved the loss of my life prior to having children. And I know I’m not alone as I write this. I stumbled upon this blog post this morning. I love it. I feel connected to this mom even though I have never met her. I also love that she likes her G&T just like me! Extra lime 🙂 It’s the connection with another soul that heals us.

Just three years shy of Will’s Mother’s Day accident while I was pregnant with our second child, he unexpectedly died. I lost even more of myself that day; as did my mom. Mother’s Day became even more difficult to navigate. Then came my mom’s dementia. I found myself completely lost last Mother’s Day.  This year, since I have been on a steady path of healing and choosing myself, I am making this Mother’s Day weekend about what I want. I gave myself permission to let go of all what Mother’s Day is “supposed” to look like. I will not spend the day with my mom. I will spend it with some mom friends who have lost their mothers. I will not get drunk off of Mimosas. I will practice yoga, go for a run with a friend, and toast one another with 1 (ok maybe 2) mimosas. I will honor the losses in my life and celebrate this juicy, extraordinary life that I have gained.


I believe that all women are mothers. Anna Jarvis herself never had children. We are here to care for; to protect one another. So be kind to yourself. Be kind to one another. Honor and celebrate what today means to you. And if you aren’t sure what today is all about; take time to sit with yourself and get clear on what you want today. Be brave. Get clear and commit. You are worth it my friend.

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  1. Lisa Sadikman

    May 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Oh Emily, I’m so sorry for your loss, both of your brother and your mother in a different, but very important way. I understand why Mother’s Day is so difficult for you as I think it is for many of us, for varying reasons. The way you choose joy and juicy is inspiring – I’m so glad you linked to my blog and led me to your wonderful words. Maybe one day we’ll get to share that G&T in person! xo

    1. Emily Johnson

      May 8, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      Lisa thank you so much for your heartfelt words. I was glad to have stumbled upon your blog early this morning. Maybe we can share that G&T some day 🙂 I hope Mother’s Day was everything you wanted it to be.

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