Sharing Mother’s Day – An Obligation or Celebration?

'078/366: Mother's Day' photo (c) 2012, Mikey - license:

For moms, Mother’s Day can be laden with expectation. We expect to be pampered and coddled – breakfast in bed, a trip to the spa, dinner at a fancy restaurant. But what we don’t expect is to be lost in all the craziness of family obligations. Yet for some women with family living nearby (or within a few hours’ drive), or for moms with blended families, Mother’s Day can become anything but a day of pampering.

If this is you and you’re already dreading the second Sunday in May, let me give you a few tips that can help you survive (and possibly find celebration):

•    Recognize your expectations. If every year your family follows the same disappointing script, recognize what’s not working about it for you. If you’re hoping for breakfast in bed, but that never happens because your mother-in-law insists on a family brunch, note what it is that you miss. Maybe it’s sleeping in. Or maybe it’s alone time snuggled in bed with your kids. Take time to parse out the underlying needs or emotions.
•    Share your desires. Perhaps your husband would be willing to initiate changes on your behalf but he doesn’t know what you want. Tell him. Give him the opportunity to please you.
•    Reframe your concept of Mother’s Day. Maybe your family won’t budge. Sometimes tradition is tradition and there’s no changing. Instead of thinking of what you wish Mother’s Day would be, accept it for what it is – a day to honor the generation of mothers ahead of you, or a day for your stepkids to honor their mom.
•    Grieve the loss. If you know you’ll never get the Mother’s Day you crave, acknowledge your sadness. Mourn for what you’re missing. Mourn and then move on.
•    Start your own tradition. So Mother’s Day isn’t about you. How about asking your husband and children to honor you on a different day. Call it “Mom’s Day” and tell them how you’d like to celebrate. Then put that day on the calendar. Ask your kids to intentionally hold back any gifts or celebration for you on the second Sunday in May so that special your day gets it all.

Observing special days doesn’t always happen perfectly. But taking the opportunity in advance to decide how we’re going to view the day can go a long way to improving our experience. If you’re a mom faced with recognizing someone else’s Mother’s Day instead of your own, think about what you’ll do to make this year different. You may find the result to be something worth celebrating!