Recently, I have been reflecting a lot on May as Mental Health Month and also on Mother’s Day. This is typically a day of celebration, but for some individuals Mother’s Day is a day of mourning, and triggers much grief, loss and trauma – most definitely a very complex and multifaceted day to say the least. There can be huge love associated with being or having a mother but also much trauma associated with having, being or trying to become a mother. An awareness of these unique experiences is necessary for therapists in helping clients cope with these “special occasions”. I wanted to highlight just a few interesting mental health initiatives or ideas related to maternal and caregiver mental health.
The Lloydminster Region Health Foundation and My Why are partnered to highlight many mental health concerns but in particular, and more recently, maternal mental health and women facing postpartum depression. The effect of PPD on women and their families is far reaching and the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation and My Why are jointly sharing these women’s stories to raise awareness, validate their lived experiences and reduce stigma. The following is a link to this project and wonderful work:
Locally on the east coast, we see new mental health initiatives that are to be commended and aim to bring mothers out of the shadows and stigma, such as Newfoundland’s own Stella’s Circle. One of their innovative support programs has targeted incarcerated mothers and their separation from their children. The staff at Just Us Women’s Centre (at Stella’s Circle) works with mothers and the NL Correctional Facility for Women to record a storybook. The book is then delivered to the child, offering them something all children like – to have a story read to them by their mother: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxXQUsvhVaR/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Even in daily living, we can find important reflection about parenting and mothering insights. On my most recent trip to Costco, I found a wonderful new read and finished the book ironically on Mother’s Day: Jann Arden’s Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as a Daughter lives with her Mom’s Memory Loss. It is an intimate look into the artist’s not perfect but very authentic relationship with her parents, and especially her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s. In my mind, it really captures one lived experience of becoming your “mother’s mother” that I’m sure hits home with many caregivers:
Arden, J. (2019). Feeding My Mother Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as a Daughter lives with her Mom’s Memory Loss. Toronto, Ontario: Vintage Canada Penguin Random House Canada.
So, wandering back to my own thoughts… I have always loved words (hence my dual BA degree Psychology and English). The older I get, the more I think of “mother” as a verb, not a noun. It’s the act of mothering that’s key and the connection this act creates is magical and humanly vital to teach empathy and love in our world.
Looking at “Mothers” in this way, allows us to appreciate every person that has ever mothered and truly loved children – biological, adoptive, stepmothers, teachers, aunts, neighbors, godmothers, angel mothers (I love this phrase a friend of mine uses), foster-moms, two Mom families, single dads who have double duty as Mom and Dad, and everyone who choose to not have, or could not have or lost children but have selflessly been mother to countless others with hugs and acts of love daily to those who need it. Happy Mother’s Day every day and love to all who have ever “mothered others”.
Think, talk and always take care,
B.A. B.Ed. Dip. Behavior Therapy M. Ed C.C.C. R. Psych
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA