For many people, Mothers’ Day is a day of celebration; children celebrating their mothers, and mothers acknowledging their role and their achievements as parents. But for some people, emotions around that day are a bit more complicated. Some people don’t have their mothers in their lives, mother and children separated by unbending disagreement. Some mothers have passed away, and their memories linger with a blend of joy and loss. Some mother-child relationships are challenging, marred by unrealized expectations. And some mothers have no relationship with their children. Of course, even positive family relationships can have moments of discontent.

The relationship between mother and child is a major one, and it operates on many levels. So, as is the case with such consequestion relationships, there is the potential for anxiety, some measure of sadness, and stress. As a food and eating therapist, I am well-aware that these strong emotions can trigger a reaction of using food to self-soothe.

I often share with my clients my strategies for dealing with personal challenges. When I am faced with emotional difficulties I make an effort to focus my attention on the uplifting. I focus on what worked in a given situation; even in the most fraught situations there is often some positive aspect to emphasize.

This principle can be a blessing for those facing challenges this Mothers’ Day. In some cases of loss, there are memories and traditions to be honored. In others, there are loving surrogates and mentors to turn to. In situations of inconsistencies, there are bright spots and memories to hold close in heart and mind. There are many situations with circumstances outside of our control; what we can control is our responses and where we choose to frame our focus. The power of gratitude and forgiveness (for ourselves as well as for others) is key. As I frequently point out, flexibility is essential in determining the path to our greatest happiness.

This is a long way for me to wish everyone a Happy Mothers’ Day. Whether your family circumstances were ideal or challenging; if you have a mother, had a mother, are a mother or know a mother, please accept my warmest wishes for a day of caring and gracious connections.