Dear Readers,

The week I address dreading Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have a great situation, but realize there are those around you for which Mother’s Day may be most stressful.


Dear Carolyn,

Is it un-American to dread Mother’s Day? I lost my only child, plus I do not get along with my mother. My husband’s mother lives in Greensboro. My mother lives in Asheboro. We go to church, so whose mother do we take to Sunday lunch? The mothers don’t like each other, so taking them together is not an option.


Carolyn Answers …

Whew! What a dysfunctional situation. Sounds like a good time for a beach trip. Seriously, holidays highlight and exacerbate family problems. Holidays can be stressful when there is family conflict.

Given your loss of your only child, Mother’s Day can be a day that opens old wounds. Some churches I have been to recognize mothers on Mother’s Day, and in your case, that may be salt in your wounds. I overall think churches should be more sensitive that Mother’s Day may be a day of reflection over a loss, rather than a celebration for some in the congregation, and I do not mean to be harsh. I would consider avoiding a situation that would send you into the doldrums.

Now, the two mothers. You do not say how your husband feels about his mother and this holiday. You need open communication with your husband. Are there family traditions? Is he a mama’s boy? It appears you (or your husband) may have a tradition to take the mothers to lunch after church on Mother’s Day.

Options might be as follows: (1) Take neither mother to lunch on Mother’s Day. (2) Take one mother to lunch and one for the evening meal on Sunday. (3) Have lunch with one mother on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Let’s face it. Mother’s Day is a very commercialized holiday. In the US, Mother’s Day has been an official holiday since 1914, created by Anna Jarvis. Jarvis later denounced Mother’s Day when the day became so very commercialized. Mother’s Day as currently celebrated is tremendously different than its historic roots. The ancient Greeks and Romans worshiped the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. Later in Europe, “Mother’s Day” was a return to the mother church during the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Parent-child relationships are not frozen in time. The relationships can change. You might seek ways to improve (using creativity) your relationship with your mother.

Maybe a beach trip is the best idea after all. It doesn’t sound like your Mother’s Day here is going to be much fun.

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Note that answers are intended to provide general legal information and are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.