Ah Mother’s Day. A happy celebration filled with spousal servitude, flowers and much-deserved appreciation….or a day when we find ourselves derailing in perpetual disappointment over the lack of gifts, thoughtfulness and overall attention we mistakenly expect once a year. How many of us have been there? Standing in a mess-filled kitchen watching the kids fight to the death over Xbox batteries while our husband “treats” us by ordering Chinese? I have been a mother for two decades now, and I’ve seen so many moms, myself included, transmute into emotional basket cases, feeling deep disappointment on the one day our hands should be sponge, spatula, and diaper-free. So, to help others just venturing into this new frontier, I have contrived a very handy list of mantras and reminders to avoid common emotional pitfalls this Mother’s Day.
Tip #1: Decide What You Really Want
If we’ve learned nothing from our time with men, it’s that even the best of ’em cannot, and will not read our minds. Even if our desires and wishes are as obvious as the sky is blue, we’ve all felt the utter shock of watching our man remain clueless when the answers/solutions seem oh so simple. The best way to avoid disappointment this Mother’s Day is to first decide what you want the day to look like. Do you want breakfast in bed? Would you rather leave the kids with dad and hit the day spa? Does your perfect day involve going to the movies as a family, or taking a hike with zero (not a peep!) complaining from the kids? Do you dream of NOT defrosting, boiling or frying one single consumable from sun up to sun down? Once you’ve made up your mind, comes tip number two…
Tip #2: Spell It Out
No woman likes having to ask or beg for what she wants, especially when the answers are so obvious. I mean, how hard is it to throw some toasted bread on a tray with a dandelion stuck in a cup and schlepp towards the bedroom? I asked myself that for approximately five consecutive Mother’s before deciding to forgo my delusions of grandeur and communicate. Better to spell it out, and plus, daddy usually appreciates the direction. Do you want flowers appearing by your bedside every Mother’s Day morn? Might even want to specify the kind or we’ll have another batch of carnations guest starring as our centerpiece for a fortnight. I’ll never forget the Mother’s Day morn my husband ran to Costco with us in the car, proudly exiting with flowers in hand, expecting my panties to drop. He has since learned to always purchase flowers without me present. Yes indeed. Better to communicate, than find ourselves passive aggressively stirring our own pancake batter, plotting our Father’s Day revenge.
Tip #3: Lower Your Standards
I know we shouldn’t have to. We’ve carried these children for nearly ten months, only to live another year wine-free year while breastfeeding. We joined cultish mommy-and-me groups, exposed ourselves nursing in public, and manned the tee-ball concessions in sub zero weather. These kids can’t be helpful and sweet for twelve hours of daylight? The answer is no. no they can’t and daddy can’t either. He’ll try. He’ll talk a good talk. But he’ll most likely be checking the game stats during the family hike a few hours in, or burning the kids’ lunch, or forgetting to make reservations at our favorite brunch spot, etc.
My husband is generally amazing, but the cold hard truth is that mothers are always expected to be “on,” even on “our day.” We’re most likely the only ones detecting baby’s cry at 3 a.m. and the parent the kids run towards after scraping a knee. To those of us with small kids, the odds any of us are escaping labor and sacrifice on Mother’s Day are fiercely slim. Take the good that comes, try to remain appreciative, and when all else fails, take tip number four…
Tip #4: Make A Backup Plan
Perhaps the best way to guarantee a disaster-free Mother’s Day is to create a back up plan. This way, all goes to pot, you can at least have something to look forward to. Get yourself a good bottle of wine in advance in case you end the day with a pity party of one, soaking in a bubble bath re-watching Downton. I’ve literally made manicure appointments the Monday following Mother’s Day to console my future self, in case all goes south. Treat yourself to a shopping venture the following week, if the day is super disappointing. Have a good sermon, movie or book cued up Sunday night, to fight off the Mother’s Day blues. Sounds a bit silly and dramatic, but nothing redeems a day void of flowers and pampering better than some bubbly and Bridgerton.
Tip #5: Manage In-Law Expectations
Aside from an emotional rabbit hole, Mother’s Day can easily turn into a political quagmire of sorts, when trying to please your mother and mother-in-law. I have friends who literally spend their Mother’s Day going to church, then delivering flowers to their mothers, step-mothers and mothers-in law. I personally think we need to play up Grandparent’s Day to stop this nonsense because I’m sorry… if another life force hasn’t relied on you for more juice, or chicken nuggets that day, you’re most likely out of mothering mode. For those facing similar dilemmas, I highly recommend a combined family outing, involving your mom, siblings, etc. such as a beach trip, hike or picnic together so everyone feels loved and happy. If this doesn’t work, try to visit your mom/mother-in-law some time during the weekend so you can still have Sunday to yourself.
At the end of the day, we rarely get a break, and rarely turn “off,” even on Mother’s Day. Perhaps the most important tip is to start the day with a simple prayer, asking God to quiet our hearts, help our husbands and kids to be filled with supernatural consideration (He can part the seas, right?!) and increase our gratefulness. When we focus on what matters- the health of our kids, those hubbies who are at least trying, God bless ‘em, and our God, who’s always good-it’ll help significantly.
Have a wonderfully blessed, disaster-free Mother’s Day! xo
For more encouragement check out my post, “Why Moms Need Prayer Even More Than Sleep.”
For more inspiration, check out Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore’s discussion on Motherhood.