Friday, May 9, 2008

Loving Mother's Day

Do you love Mother's Day? The first time I heard that a mom might not be ecstatic about this day was from my mom during an honest moment. Since then I have heard it often and from many women. Just the other night I heard a phenomenal mother tell me, "Aw, I HATE Mother's Day. Always have, always will."

This reminded me of the day that I felt the same way. It was Mother's Day 2003, I think. I remember my husband and kids saying "Happy Mother's Day" to me and that was pretty much it. It was a busy, hectic Sunday just like any other. After a few upsetting Mother's Days this was the worst. I was hurt, and very sad. To be fair, my husband was in grad school, very busy, very stressed out, very poor, and our children were very young. But I hated Mother's Day that day. I figured that if it just didn't exist I wouldn't have any reason to be upset. Honestly, though, I didn't hate the day, I hated the unmet expectation. I hated the lack of fanfare, the absence of feeling special, the void of feeling any different from every other day of the year. I suddenly knew why Moms were saying they hated mother's day.

But I didn't want to hate mother's day. It broke my heart when I heard that my mom didn't like it. I never wanted my kids to feel like I didn't feel special on that day, no matter what they didn't do for me. (By the way, mom, I ABSOLUTELY don't blame you for not liking mother's day in the past, or even to this very day as I am one of the worst people at doing anything for you on this day. I'm sorry!!! I love you and you are a fantastic mother.) Having your kids believe that they make you happy on this day is like letting them believe in Santa for as long as they want. It just makes them happy. Even husbands like believing this. But I didn't want it to be a lie, either, I wanted to really enjoy Mother's Day.

Here is what I did:

1. I changed my expectations. If you ask moms what they want on Mother's Day most of them say they want one day free of being a mom. That is what I wanted. I wanted one day of no cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, whiny kids, pleasing my husband, or doing anything that wasn't just for me. I also wanted to be celebrated, treated like royalty, to have one perfect day. And with expectations like that how could I NOT be let down?

But Mother's Day isn't about not being a mom anymore. It is a day to celebrate being a mother. So, I erased all the above expectations and decided that on Mother's Day I was going to find joy in my motherhood and nothing else. Anything else would be a pleasant surprise. Now on this day I laugh more with/at my kids, I refuse to yell, I give up all guilt, smile evily at people who are annoyed by my kids, don't worry about how they are dressed, what they eat, or anything else. It is a fantastic day.

2. I started treating myself. Sometimes we need to show people how to treat us by treating ourselves that way first. I now go to the store the day before Mother's Day and buy strawberries, whipped cream, flowers, whatever I want for meals the next day, and maybe even a new piece of jewelry (but I don't spend more than $15). If my husband wants to beat me to the punch on this, he is more than welcome, but otherwise I do it and I am always happy the next day when I can enjoy my treats.

3. I stopped blaming my husband. It is Mother's Day, not Wife's Day. Sure, a man should honor his wife for being the mother of his children, but he can do that all year long and on other days of the year. Once I gave up the idea that he was in charge of Mother's Day I was able to love him and not be angry with him for "failing me".

4. I allowed myself the same freedom regarding Father's Day. I can encourage the kids to celebrate the day. I can help them carry out their plans. But I don't have to feel pressured to do it all, or to even do anything (though I try to). Now I can't feel bitter because I "did more for him than he did for me". It isn't up to us, but to our kids.

Now comes the good part. I made all these decisions the day after that sad Mother's Day in 2003. The following Father's Day the kids and I picked out a candy bar for my husband (the kids' choice of gift) and we all signed a card. This was very little compared to the previous Father's Day fanfares. My husband was a bit hurt and disappointed. When he mentioned it I nicely, without any malice because there was no malice to be had now, said, "But it is more than I got for Mother's Day." He was sure that wasn't true but when I asked him to tell me what they did for me that day he couldn't think of anything.

Ever since that day I have had marvelous Mother's Days. And I have to thank my husband for all the effort he puts into them now. He really goes out of his way to treat me right. But it is my new outlook on this Holiday that really lets me feel joyful. It no longer matters if things don't go just right, it doesn't hurt if something keeps my husband from getting it put together, and it doesn't even bother me if the kids are grumpy and mean to me that day. I just smile, remember how blessed I am to be a mother, and enjoy the look of my new bracelet. =)

I hope all you mothers have a very enjoyable Mother's Day !!!

31 comments:

An Ordinary Mom said...

Excellent post! I share many of the same sentiments about this day (and our anniversary, Christmas, my birthday, etc.) that you do. If needs be I celebrate the day by treating myself (frugally)and I make clear to my family any expectations that I might have for any given year.

For the most part, though, my husband knows that having a hand written card by him on these days is one of the most meaningful things I can get. Everything else is just icing on the cake ... especially when I go to See's a few days before hand and get my own hand picked box of chocolates to open on the special day:) !!

Our 10 year anniversary is also coming up next week, and what works the best for us is to jointly plan what we want to do based on our current money and time circumstances. With that being said, though, my husband knows, too, that I still adore and welcome any surprises that might come my way ... as long as we can afford them!

I love being able to communicate so well and having such realistic expectations. It makes these kind of events SO much better.

Happy Mother's Day!

Angela said...

Great post- I am not sure I have had a feeling about it either way, since I don't live by either of our parents, and the kids always make a little something. But I did have to do these tips with my husband regarding my birthday and christmas when were first married. Now he goes way over board, and I am in the dog house! So I am hiding this post from him:))

I am going to make it a great day this year- after homeschooling and 4 kids, I deserve it!

Good post today!

The Lazy Organizer said...

Excellent post! My husband and I have pretty much given up on Holidays. Seriously, what can you expect from them but to be like any other day? Especially when spending money just for the sake of spending goes against everything we believe in?

We try to to make every day special and fun with our family because we love each other, not because someone else says it's a special occassion.

Magirk said...

You are BRILLIANT.

I wouldn't say that I 'hate' Mother's Day, it's more of an ambivalence toward it, I suppose.

I have, though, taken to treating myself, as you said. I find the nice gift that I like, I decide to have a dinner that I and only I will enjoy and eat, I have a yummy dessert that I'd like, I make sure Hubby knows if I expect or would like a certain gift....

Besides, what's a 4yo and twin toddlers supposed to do!? :P

I like to feel special that day, and know that someone cares. But it's not about how big the shebang is, it's about the words that are spoken (or written, as DH likes to write me nice letters on special days like these). I'm content most of the time just for Hubby to grabe me for a hug, look into my eyes, and say 'I'm so glad you're here, and I love you very much and appreciate all that you do.'

At least, I believe I should hear those words ONE day out of the year!! Haha. :D

Loved this post. (going to sneakily copy your bulleted points to remind myself in the future.... if you don't mind.)

Cocoa said...

Wonderful insight! When I first became a mom it was hard celebrating Mother's Day (and other holidays) because I grew up in a family where my Dad remembered (and still does) every holiday and birthday ahead of time and always got something for my mother. Even surprising her on occasions for "just because". My husband on the other hand grew up with a dad who would after the fact say something like, "Oh just go buy yourself something and say it's from me."

I too learned to change my expectations (with a vow to teach my own children to think ahead like my dad) and just enjoy being a mother on that day.

Laura said...

I think I'll use your advice. This not only happens for me on Mother's Day, but every holiday except Christmas (where I'm spoiled over by my husband). If I don't make an effort, there is usually nothing... except when your kids get old enough to start doing things for you. Take a look at my mother's day blog to see why.

Richelle said...

Very good points. We really don't ever get a total break from being a mom, and we really can't expect that. I love that my husband takes care of dinner (although he does a lot of Sundays). He is usually pretty good at making me feel special.
I know about the "treating yourself" thing. I like to do that. Especially at Christmas time, since my birthday and our anniversary are all very close together. :)

Cheri said...

Sounds like you've made up your mind to have a Happy Mother's Day. Didn't ol' Abe Lincoln say something up folks being just about as happy as they make up their minds to be? Good post!

Charlotte said...

Fabulous post! I've only recently really learned that happiness is something we choose, not something we are (I'm a slow learner). I love your ideas. I've never been a big fan of Mother's Day - it seems like there's always just more mess to clean up - but I'll try it your way this year!

Leslie said...

I loved this post! I love Mother's Day & have learned the same lessons about expectations...so I just don't have any and think that if my husband and children just give me a kiss and say that they love me it's a great day!

CC said...

Great post! I'm not a huge fan of Mother's Day. After years of infertility and very painful Mother's Days I just can't get that out of my head. And I feel so sad that my children's birth mothers can't see how wonderful their children are and I imagine the loss they must be feeling...

Sea Star said...

My thoughts exactly. We aren't big on gifts just for gifts sake. It is always nice to be remembered but I am not going to get my feeling hurt when it doesn't go according to my dreams.

Tirzah said...

This is a great post! I have learned that so many things in life can be changed completely just by changing our mindset about them!

Happy Mother's Day

kay said...

thank you thank you thank you!! i never want my family to make a big deal about mother's day. i feel like i am so lucky to get to be a mother every day that i don't need a special one. but they always rub my feet or pick up extra toys and i never have to do the dishes! but i think i will take some of your ideas and go buy myself something cute. like some new earrings!! oh and maybe some ice cream! :)

happy mothers day to you too!

Packer Family said...

WOW WOW WOW. As a young mother you have no idea how wonderful it is to read this! Your post are always wonderful but this really hit me! You are so right in so many ways! Mothers day is about feeling blessed that you are a mother not stop being a mom for the day! Thank you so much for this post!!!!

Mrs. Annie said...

Well done.

If I am disappointed, it's usually because I had hopes and expectations that were either too high to attain or that I had neglected to share with my family. Silly me.

Now that I'm an (ahem) older mommy I can honestly say that my son coming home for a visit, my daughter being close at hand, and my Beloved saying Happy Mother's Day, is truly enough. I am blessed!

Motherhood for Dummies said...

okay I know this is off topic... but thought of you! my husband brought home from Ben &* Jerry "Americone Dreams" the stephen clobert ice cream... and WONDEFUL! loved it :) You should try it, just thought you might like ot know :)

Richelle said...

PS--You won my Pay it Forward Giveaway!! Email me your address so I can send you something.

Awesome Mom said...

Great post! I like to keep things low key too. My husband does do the breakfast in bed thing, but that is only until the kids are old enough to do it themselves. When I was a kid making my parent's breakfast in bed was one of the funnest parts of the day. I like the kids to color a card for me and that is the extent of my expectations.

Michal said...

happy mother's day. these are great tips to help us survive any occasion without feeling let down. and it sounds like you are training your husband and kids pretty well--maybe in another 10 years they'll consistently exceed your expectations!:)

Posey said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!! What a perfect post! I could not agree with you more about "mother's day expectations." It is hard not to get disappointed when you plan for a free day. I mean honestly--a free day as a mom?! Forget it!

I think that I will take you advice tomorrow and just enjoy my my family--and treat myself a little!

just jamie said...

Thank you for the reminder that the day should be simple and kind. Happy Mother's Day to *you*!

Family Adventure said...

We really don't celebrate Mother's/Father's day, primarily because they fall on different days in different countries, and having family in all these countries just makes for a very difficult time remembering them.

Having said that, I see nothing wrong with having a day where YOU can celebrate YOURSELF. I think that's exactly what your post says, too. Why not take a day a year and just reflect on how great it is to be a mother. If the kids and/or husband want to get in on the fun, all the better.

Happy Mother's Day to YOU, my friend :)

Heidi

Prudy said...

You are one wise mama. All I ever want on Mother's Day is an uninterrupted chance to read. That's what I want for my birthday every year, too. I don't even want good food; I can do that myself. Just the gift of a good book and time. I saved all the NY times crossword puzzles this week and I'm doing them all today! Erin

PJMcD said...

Happiest "Ma's Day" Hermana Bance

Becks said...

What a great perspective! I too, look at Mother's Day as a day to celebrate motherhood, not hide from it. Good thing, too, because I have two sick kids today! So we're all sitting happily on the couch with comforters and special blankies watching Christmas movies in May...(said Becky, with laptop in hand...)

I've started changing my birthday expectations as well. I've begun viewing my birthday as a day I'm given extra opportunity to reach out to people I'm not in contact with very often. I'm so much happier when I shift my focus off of myself and onto those around me.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Fabulous post...Happy Mother's Day :)

Amber M. said...

I've read and reread this...and I love your sage advice. Thank you!

Happy Mother's Day.

Jen Hill said...

I absolutely love this! Wow! What a novel way of approaching Mother's Day.

Thank you so much for sharing. I am glad you had a wonderful Mother's Day (I did too)!

Take care ICE CREAM!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Great thoughts! I have done many of the same things myself...like treating myself! Boy, isn't it helpful?

I also stopped comparing to everyone else's mothers day. THAT is never helpful!

Holly said...

Great post!! I love that you are changing your expectations!

Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!!