Alice Walker & Rebecca Walker

When someone you care about thinks you suck.

Q&A: Tips for handling Mother's Day while being estranged?

This morning I received an email from a woman who is a mother and who has been estranged by her grown children several times over 15 years. After describing the basics of the estrangement she said, "I need to move on with my life - any tips - and any help for handling Mothers Day?"

Tips for handling Mother's Day!? Her question inspired today's post.

For myself, over time, it has gotten easier. Her birthday is generally worse for me than Mother's Day has been.

On Mother's Day for many years I avoided going out to eat where there were families having their Mother's Day dinner. I felt as though the contrast between what they were experiencing and what I was experiencing would feel too stark and painful. However, my expectations of how I might feel have changed. It is possible that I could enjoy myself, even in the middle of a restaurant where everyone was going bonkers crazy over someone's mother.

My attitude about Mother's Day now is that my daughter can't take away from me the fact that I am a mother and that I loved being a mother and that this day, Mother's Day, is still a reminder that I have been a Mother. I can celebrate that fact no matter what SHE does or doesn't do. My attitude about her birthday is the same. These two days are mine too. We share in them even though we are apart. They involve good memories and my pleasure and happiness and she can't take that away from me.

They say that doing well is the best revenge. Since I am a mother, I don't think of "revenge" in terms of my daughter. I don't want or need "revenge." I don't know what word to use in place of revenge but I need a different word. Doing well involves being kind to yourself. Doing well is the path to healing. Doing well is giving yourself the recognition that you deserve. Doing well is appreciating yourself. Which may sound strange to appreciate yourself but in this case I think that we do need to recognize ourselves as deserving of appreciation, even if we aren't being shown appreciation by those whom we wish could appreciate us. We deserve to be appreciated anyway and if they can't, then we might as well show appreciation to ourselves.

So we CAN celebrate a Mother's Day or any other day for the positive things that it represents. We might choose to celebrate it differently than the rest of the country but we can celebrate it in our own way. Maybe we'd buy ourselves a great box of chocolates or take ourselves out to a movie (with friends maybe) or buy ourselves a gorgeous new top or a pair of shoes or jewelry or something that we enjoy a lot. Or go to a play or a performance or do something entirely new that we've never done before.

There's a song that has the line, "They can't take that away from me." That is true. No one can take away the pleasure of being a mother to someone we love or loved. We are mothers. It can't be taken away. It is a fact of life. The fact that my daughter won't talk to me doesn't change that. I still feel good about having been her mom and she can go screw herself if she thinks that she can wreck my life by not talking to me.

She can't wreck my life. I can wreck my life but she can't do it. I can have as good of a life and a Mother's Day as I want to have. It won't be a traditional Mother's Day but it will still be a good day. I can still appreciate being a mom.

This post is appropriate for Father's Day too. So if you're a Father and Father's Day comes along, remember that she can't take your being her dad away from you either.

Remember the good times and what you like about being her parent and put the other stuff away on a back shelf in your mind and let that other stuff gather dust.

Happy Mother's Day to you all,


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Who is the victim here? According to you, your daughter woke up one day and thought, "self how do I ruin my mother's life". I know that's not true, and so do you. Your pathetic whining otherwise does not fool anyone except perhaps your "friends".

I know I know, to mention why would be to degenerate you. Nevermind that it's the truth, as opposed to your ommissions and lies.


I know this is back tracking and if you must go to your panera bread post first.
I dont want you to think Im talking out of my butt or something. I am a mother. I have a mother. Actually, I'm even a grandmother.
I seriously think you need to apologize to your daughter and admit to your wrong doing.
you come off as very self absorbed and shame on you for treating your daughter, someone you were supposed to love unconditionally with contempt. Get out your mirror and look at your reflection...for you will also see your daughter there. I think you take out on her all the dreams of yours you didnt fulfill and all the successes she has that you dont.



So your advice to mothers whose daughters have estranged them is what? To be miserable and despondent on Mother's Day?

How about you go and get your own blog and offer your own words of wisdom out there for people to listen to?

Best of luck!

deborah lynch

i have had 1yr of hell with my daughter and her partner after a very close relationship.i cope like this lady in any way i can,i cant even talk to my girl who is only 5mins away havent seen her in over a yr.her partners controling.see has not contacked any of her family.a lot of the time family brake up is through controling the mums and dads.i ingnored my daughter lesbian partners horrid remarks for well over a year.they got married never told us.i know i did my best.i can sleep at night.i will always love her.but you have to find your own way to cope or the pain would end up killing you


Hi Deborah,

That is one of the most common causes of adult kids estranging themselves -- their involvement with a partner who, for some reason, proceeds to separate and isolate them from their family.

I'm glad that you are finding ways to cope. Yes, the pain is enormous. It is a rare parent who is not bothered by this.


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