Mother’s Day can create a mixed bag of emotions for oh, so many reasons. Maybe you had/have a bad relationship with your own mother. Perhaps you’re dealing with secondary infertility or multiple miscarriages. Some moms are frustrated by certain expectations that never come to pass, and others resent and feel awkward about choosing a gift for their mother-in-law. There are always those who believe they don’t deserve the accolades or “forced” expressions of gratitude because they aren’t that good of a mom anyway.
We could dwell on and add nauseum on all the legitimate reasons to dread Mother’s Day, but the truth is, it doesn’t feel very good! Whatever your reasons for struggling with Mother’s Day, why not make this year different? Transforming your Mother’s Day experience can be as easy as making a simple mental switch. (Though I do realize how hard it can be to rewire mental switches, so I don’t say this lightly!)
I’ll briefly share my own experience. My first child was born three weeks into what would become nine years of my husband’s medical training. We had three children by the end of that time. As thoughtful as my husband was and is (he always buys me a little something and attaches a card with sweet words of thanks), it seemed that every Mother’s Day during those demanding years he was either at the hospital or one of us had responsibilities at our church taking up a good portion of the day. In other words, I ended up with very little time for myself. This was frustrating for me because I had it in my head that Mother’s Day should be a “day off” for Mom, and that “type” of Mother’s Day never materialized during those grueling years. Mother’s Day became a day of dread for me because of unmet expectations.
Finally, after child number four, I figured it out. Mother’s Day didn’t have to be about me sleeping in, being served breakfast in bed, having the day to myself to do whatever I wanted, topped off by a basketful of cards and gifts telling me what a great mother I was. Mother’s Day could be nothing more than me thinking about each of my children, how much I loved them, and what a gift it was to be their mother. I even started using the day to spend some meaningful one on one time with each of my children instead of trying to be alone. Once I made this simple mental switch, Mother’s Day became a delight.
Going back to those reasons some mothers dread Mother’s Day, following are a few suggestions that may possibly help (though I don’t pretend to understand each of these situations):
- If you have a strained relationship with your mother, try focusing on how you’re creating a better relationship with your own children and take joy in that success.
- If you’re struggling with secondary infertility or multiple miscarriages, you may find comfort in reaching out to another mother in your same situation and focusing on the children you do have.
- If you have certain expectations for the day, ask yourself which of them are realistic and, if you feel comfortable, make a request of your husband and children. (And if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t be surprised or upset when they don’t read your mind! Last year, after almost 14 years of motherhood, I finally told my husband I wanted a corsage to wear to church on Mother’s Day. He was happy to oblige and I felt special all day. How else would he have known it was important to me if I hadn’t asked?)
- If you really think no one in your family will do anything for you and you’re not happy about it, go ahead and do something special for yourself or get together with another mother friend in the same boat and celebrate in your own way. (You don’t need anyone’s permission!)
- If you dread finding an appropriate gift for your mother-in-law, do something revolutionary: Let your husband get his own mother a gift!
- If you’ve got hang ups about not being a good enough mom, stop making Mother’s Day about you, and turn the spotlight on your awesome kids and the love you feel for them.
Finally, in the spirit of focusing on the positive aspects of Mother’s Day, I’d like to ask our readers to send in their best Mother’s Day memories to be compiled for next week’s post. Whether it was something you did as a child for your own mother, something your spouse or children did for you, or even something you did for yourself, share your best memories in the comments section below or email me at allyson at poweroffamilies.com.
QUESTION: How do you feel about Mother’s Day? Dread or delight? What are your reasons? How have you overcome your own negative associations with Mother’s Day?
CHALLENGE: Make the necessary mental switches to turn this Mother’s Day into something delightful. (And please send in your favorite Mother’s Day memories!)
My favorite Mothers day was last year on Mothers day I was able to bring home by baby boy from the newborn intensive care unit at the hospital. He had spent his 1st 10 days of life there after being born severely anemic. His 3 older sisters didn’t get to meet him or see him until we brought him home on Mothers day. I couldn’t think of a better Mothers day gift. My heart was turned to my new baby and other children and the special feeling that was in our home that day. I wasn’t worried one bit about myself, only about bringing my sweet baby home.
Mary Jenkins says
Thank you Allyson! This is what I finally figured out a couple years ago. I dreaded mother’s day because it never met my high and somewhat unrealistic (for our current situation with young children) expectations. I tried to readjust my thinking and was able to really enjoy that last Mother’s Day. And ditto on making requests known! My husband didn’t grow up in a family where they did breakfast in bed but in my house it was hard core tradition! The first couple of mothers day I was upset that he hadn’t brought me breakfast in bed but finally mentioned it to him and he was more than happy to do it each year.
I think the most meaningful day was two years ago when I was about to give birth to my third child. At the time I had a one year old and a three year old. My one year old had spent the first year of life in and out of the hospital. After that rough year I found myself overwhelmed with shear gratitude just for the fact that he was still with us and we had survived the ordeal. I wasn’t that day (and still am not) the perfect mother but I was so grateful he was there. Not to mention be happy for all the other wonderful joys that come from being a mom. That was the Mother’s Day that I learned that I wanted to make this holiday a day to be grateful for being a woman and mother. The day turned into a day of taking in every memory we made and spending time with them. For me it became a day to grow even closer to them and evaluate my relationship with them and how I am as a mother. I now look forward to this holiday and to have a day set aside to give extra thanks for being a mom.
Ashley A. says
I always go back to my first Mother’s Day as a mother. My daughter was born 9 weeks early and was in the NICU for 5 weeks. She’d been home about 2 months when the day rolled around. I’ll never forget my goofy husband putting our tiny baby in his lap and using her arms to act out motions while he sang the song, “Mother I Love You.” It was such a funny, simple gesture but I think about it a lot and really treasure that memory. Now she is 9 and getting much too tall. 🙂
I really love this. Expectations are huge!
Mrs B says
Thanks for sharing this. I too have gone through this process to the point that each mothers day i wanted a day without my children! I thought ‘this can’t be right!’ So now each year instead of being disapointed with no gift i get them each a little something (after all i wouldnt be a mother without them) and write them a card with all the things i love about them. This brings me great joy and them too. It’s turned mothers day on its head but it is so much more enjoyable. Right now they are to young to buy gifts or make breakfast but one day they will hopefully learn what they have seen me model for them.