A Mother's Day Note


I remember when I was a new mom and in the thick of trying to find my grounding in my new life, I kept on hearing this refrain in my head...

"It is hard enough to mother ourselves, let alone to mother someone else."

Now for those of you who had very present and nourishing mothers perhaps this refrain won't resonate for you. But for me it was downright primal. And when I first heard the refrain rattle around the chambers of my heart, it simply rattled it with fear and loss. But eventually this refrain started to strangely shift into mantra territory, and it provided me with a poignant strain of sustenance and hope (as in, this is hard, but I can locate what the "hard" is...honor it...and hopefully move through it with some grace).

While I still very much connect to this refrain, it feels different now that I am ten years into mothering my son and six years into mothering my daughter. But a few years ago when my own mother died, I felt the emotional sutures rip open again and the "hard enough" came pouring in once more...

So on the cusp of another Mother's Day in which I have invariably mixed feelings, I offer this bit of wholehearted reflection.

Whether you are a mother, want to be a mother, or are perfectly thrilled not to be a mother...perhaps it is a truth that we all need to do the vital work of mothering ourselves at some point in our lives (or perhaps for you it's more about fathering yourself).


Regardless of whether she was the mother you needed, wanted or even knew...we all do or did have a mother and you probably only know a fraction about her journey in life and it was a journey that at some pivotal juncture included birthing you. And for the gift of this life (as glorious and imperfect as it may be) there is gratitude to be gleaned and cultivated.

So if you have a mother you adore...let her know and let her know often. Seriously, as no one has a crystal ball as to how long you will have the opportunity to do so. Take it from someone who people joke has a crystal ball but did not know her mother would die suddenly at the age of 68.

If you have a mother who you have challenges with...perhaps try to see her for who she is and not just through the lens of who you want her to be. Try to see your relationship as no "worse" or "better" than it really is...and then perhaps choose to be kinder to both of you while still maintaining your own version of healthy boundaries.

And if your mother is no longer with us...allow yourself to grieve (and perhaps celebrate) the relationship you did have and the relationship you never did. And by the way, there is no timeline on any of this, because grief and joy might be affected by time but it doesn't adhere to the constructs of time.


So if motherhood makes your heart sing, sing it. Sing it unabashedly and with your own authentic voice. We all have our own unique way of mothering, honor that and enjoy the sacred and mundane (which are also sacred) moments of this heart-altering journey.

If motherhood makes your heart feel trapped, be truthful about it and try to find where you can breathe more freedom into your experience (and maybe don't tell your most judgemental friends about these feelings...or perhaps you should move away from those type of friends all together and shift your energy into more supportive relationships).

If you find yourself swinging within the spectrum of these feelings...well you are in very good company and remember that you are human.

If you want to be a mother but are experiencing challenges along the path to becoming a mother, then may you be supported on this journey, may you receive clarity where clarity is needed, and may you listen deeply to your own deep knowing about how to move forward.

If you don't want to be a mother, I hope you don't feel the need to explain your choice and fulfillment to anyone and that "well-meaning" people start minding their own business and stop asking you about it (and secretly or not-so-secretly judging you about it). But as we can't control or change others, may your own voice be internally supported by your own truth and desires.

Come to think it, how different life would be for all of us if instead of judging one another, we opened our hearts a little wider to one another while still exercising healthy and conscious discernment. Because part of the beauty of being a human being is the liberty we have to make our own choices based on our own intuitive navigation and in the pursuit of our own happiness.

And if none of these love notes above speak to your own experience, honor your own experience above this and anyone else's wholehearted attempt to reflect and support yours. There is truly no one-size-fits-all wisdom or newsletter about something as deeply complex and personal as mothering.


When I have a holiday that I feel ambivalent about emotionally, I tend to lean toward self-nourishment and clarity first. Because that way, when I engage with others it will be more fulfilling, honest, and clear.

For this Mother's Day weekend, I decided to try the combo or the "one for you, one for me" approach. On Friday, I'm going with a beloved soul sister to an evening of sacred chanting with my intention being to go to an inner place of connection before moving into the more social aspects of my weekend. On Saturday, I'm leaving the day open to see what my kids and husband want to do, as compromise is part of my approach to motherhood as well as honoring my own desires.

And on Sunday, Mother's Day, I will be celebrating the day with my nuclear and extended family that includes someone who has been like a second-mother to me in many ways (thank you dear Mitzi for that gift). I will also find some way to connect with the energy of my mother...perhaps through our shared love of poetry...or perhaps not...I will see what feels real for me in the moment and not shred myself with guilt if nothing feels right.

Which leads me to what I will not do on Mother's Day weekend.

I will not allow myself to swim in a mindset of regret, expectation or comparison (so please don't do that either while reading about what I or anyone else is doing) as all of these pursuits are particularly agile at killing joy...and joy is what I desire. This might take some discipline if I'm triggered, but my heart is crystal clear on this...ultimately the only one who can really mother me at this point in my life is myself...so I'm going to take that sacred duty to heart by taking myself deeply into my own mothering heart.


How is your heart feeling going into Mother's Day? If Mother's Day is challenging for you, how have you chosen to navigate the day? If it does your heart good to share, please share in the comments section below as it may just be nourishment to someone else's heart as well as to your own.

Grateful to be a mother to these two...

Grateful to be a mother to these two...


I made us a Mother's Day music playlist (not necessarily a traditional one) on Spotify because music helps me celebrate...and grieve...and heal...and rise...and everything in between. So perhaps this playlist will touch some heart notes for you as well.

Do you have other songs that you love about motherhood? Email me at info@elanakilkenny.com and let me know, I love expanding my musical landscape and I might just add a song or two to the playlist if it works with its alchemy!