I’m going to say something a bit radical. (So brace yourself.)
Sometimes I leave Mother’s Day feeling incredibly disappointed.
It’s not my husband’s fault, or the kids, really. They make adorable little cards, give sloppy kisses (the kids, not the husband, thank God), and try SO HARD to make the day special.
They even let me “sleep in”.
I feel guilty saying it, but sometimes I’d like Mother’s Day to be the one day of the year when I don’t actually have to be a mother.
*Waiting for a knock on the door, as CPS comes to come to take the kids away.*
Don’t get me wrong *waving back the social workers*, I actually do love being a mom.
Most of the time.
It’s just that Mother’s Day is so built up! Expectations are high, and we look towards our day as a reward for the other 364 days of hard work. So when that day arrives…and it’s not the lighthouse of rejuvenation that we were hoping for, the fall back to reality feels a lot harder.
NOT THIS YEAR, LADIES!
This year, we’re going to do something different. We’re going to look the Dragon of Disappointment straight in the eye, and slay it with a few good swipes of truth.
Mother’s Day Truth #1:
It’s Going to Be Crowded
It’s a cold hard fact that the newer you are to Team Mom, the more likely that you will be accidentally nudged to the side in all the festivities. As terrible as it feels, they aren’t neglecting your new Mom Membership on purpose.
- You head over to your in-laws for brunch to celebrate your MIL by chasing the kids around, doing some dishes, and listening to your husband and his brothers argue of the NBA playoffs (it was just accidentally on in the background…) This has been his family’s tradition for Mother’s Day for the past 20 years. It doesn’t even occur to him that this may need to change. It just is.
- Eventually, after naptime (which didn’t involve any napping) you pile into the car and head over to YOUR mom’s for dinner. You present your gift (a meal for the family!) and card. Fun times were had by all until the kids have a meltdown.
- You arrive at home and rush to get the kids into the bed.
Now the house is silent, the day is over, and you’re sobbing into the couch pillows while he awkwardly holds a scrunched-up paper bag (because he didn’t have time to wrap the dust buster.)
The Solution: Plan Ahead
Abruptly changing these traditions is a bad idea. It will cause a LOT of strive and bitterness from the other members of the family. If you want that tradition to change, best to do it slowly, over time. Talk to your husband about the adjustments you want to make in the future, and then drop little suggestions and hints this year on things may be a little different next year.
This will give them a lot of time to adjust to the fact that new traditions are going to be developed. Just remember, though, it is better to replace than remove. Keeping the peace in a family is challenging sometimes, but definitely worth the extra effort.
In the meantime, though, are you just screwed?
Nope. Choose a different day in May and make that YOUR Mother’s Day. Before or after, it really doesn’t matter. What DOES matter, is that this is a day that you, as a smaller nuclear family, can set aside to focus on YOU, without offending the other matriarchs.
The key here is to jump ahead. Adjust your expectations and move your anticipation towards a different day. That will allow you to enjoy BOTH days a whole lot more.
Mother’s Day Truth #2:
Be Gift-Specific, or Risk Getting a Toaster
Some men are really creative gift-givers. They are masters of the wrapped present. They give gifts so thoughtful and perfect, that you didn’t even realize that was what you wanted until you opened it up.
If your man is like that, this section is not for you.
MOST husbands (especially the younger ones) tend to fall into the Pit of Practicalities. They ask, “What would she use?” instead of “What would she want?”
Even worse, they don’t realize the distinctions between the two questions! They think they are asking question #2, but are really asking question #1! (Which is how you ended up with that lint remover last year.)
The Solution: Don’t Let Him Guess
Be bold, sister. Don’t drop “hints” that he will never decipher correctly. Be specific. How specific? CRAZY-specific.
I have an Amazon gift list of things I would enjoy receiving (mostly books) for my birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day…Cameron never has to guess because I have a (longish) list of things I would enjoy.
How else would I have ended up with the bizarre (but amazing) egg peeling cream and charcoal mask? He would never, in 10 trillion years, have figured out that was a good gift for me. Now though, I have something I’m excited to try, and he gets all the credit.
UPDATE: I did try them, and ended up ordering several as gifts because it’s comically quirky and leaves my skin feeling WAY smoother/younger than it should. Gotta love South Korean beauty products! 🙂
Or, if money is tight, tell him you want to lounge at the library, or for him to leave the house with the kids for 4 hours, or to have dinner and watch this hilariously accurate movie with a friend.
The bigger point here is to tell him exactly what you want.
Mother’s Day Truth #3:
Season of Life Matters
If you’re breastfeeding a baby, expecting to take the entire day off isn’t going to be realistic. The younger your kids, the busier your Mother’s Day is going to be.
That’s okay. They need you! There are still noses to be wiped, bottoms to be patted, tickles to give, and even a few diapers to change. Your man is amazing, but he still needs help.
It doesn’t mean the ENTIRE day has to be a loss!
The Solution: Give Yourself Small Rewards
Decide ahead of time (see a pattern here?) what things you wish would be a little different than the normal day. Perhaps that’s…
- Let’s have pizza for dinner so I don’t have to cook. (Or freeze something earlier in the week.)
- Dad takes the kids on a 30-minute walk, so you can sit and stare at the wall drinking coffee if you want. Completely undisturbed.
- You spend an hour working on that Pinterest project you were wanting to finish, while the kids watch some Paw Patrol.
- You get the kids to bed on time (or even a little early?)), and then enjoy a hot soak in the tub.
- You select a movie date with your husband, and the in-laws get to babysit for a few hours.
Find something a little out of the ordinary, and then talk with your husband on how to make that small thing happen. Then, throughout the day, you can cherish this stage of neediness they are in without feeling bitter or frustrated.
Besides, this stage goes by so fast…only a few Mother’s Days from now you’ll be able to ask them to finish cleaning the kitchen!
Mother’s Day Truth #4:
It May Be Bittersweet (and That’s Okay)
There’s another feeling of disappointment that can plague Mother’s Day.
It’s the disappointment that your mother (or your husband’s) has passed away and is no longer with you. Or perhaps, it’s the disappointment that comes with struggling with infertility.
There’s a gray cloud that can settle over the day, sogging down the celebration with feelings of melancholy.
The Solution: Accept Where You Are, But Still Move Forward
Don’t try to force a sunny day. Instead, find the breaks in the clouds and celebrate those moments when the sun shines.
Here are few suggestions to find that balance between loss and hope.
- Go to her favorite restaurant (or other favorite spot) and tell the kids your stories of growing up.
- Break out that box of photos and flip through them, pointing out relatives and describing life back then.
- Write a letter to her every year in a special journal, talking about what she’d love about her growing grandkids.
- Plant a tree in her memory and take a photo there every year as a family.
If you are struggling with infertility, get something on the calendar to explore. Perhaps it’s a new fertility option, or a conversation with a foster care parent, something that will show your heart that you’re not sitting still this Mother’s Day. You are moving forward to find new options and choices to try.
Turning Mother’s Day
Disappointments into Dreams
We ALL approach Mother’s Day with hopes and expectations. Your assignment for today, my friend, is to take 5 minutes to sit down and figure out what those are.
- Are you assuming you’ll have the day to yourself? (If so, read through Truth #1.)
- Were you hoping for that new summer purse you mentioned back in March? (If so, you may want to follow the suggestion in Truth #2.)
- Do you want to spend time with a few mom friends? (If so, taking the whole day may not be wise. Check out Truth #3.)
- Is there a chance that a loss may catch up to you? (If so, create a plan to cope with Truth #4.)
There is one person who can guarantee that you have the most amazing Mother’s Day you’ve ever had.
Can you guess who it is?
Have You Read These Yet?
- An Open Letter to Exhausted Moms Everywhere
- How to Make Your Preschooler’s Screen Time Free of Mom Guilt
- Toolkit for Moms on the Edge: 12 Homeopathic Remedies to Boost Your Mood
- What You Need to Know About Taming Your Angry Stretch Marks
- Goodbye Mom Guilt: 5 Sanity-Savers That Won’t Screw Up Your Kid
- Dear Homemaker: Use these 70 Life-Hacks to Steal More Time
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Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at MightyMoms.club and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She’s a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, has been a featured parenting expert writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, Cafe Mom, and others. If it’s 2am and you’re desperate to read SOMETHING, check out her deepest darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn’t be allowed to blog.