Sure, we hope to be honored in some way on Mother’s Day.
And some of us will. For some of us, Sunday will be a day of extravagant gifts and champagne brunches.
Some of us will have creative spouses and industrious children with lots of resources and initiative–we’ll have scones and strawberries for breakfast in bed, and chocolate truffles with lunch.
Or our child’s school or Sunday School teacher will come up with a craft sure to touch us deep in the mom-spot inside our hearts–something we’ll display on the fridge with delight.
And some of us will get a whole lot of nothing.
The kids will forget until the day of, suddenly realizing, “Oops. This is Mother’s Day.” To compensate, they’ll rush out in the yard to pick dandelions and offer us a limp, last-minute bouquet. Sweet, but not super-special.
And we’ll be thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me! THIS is all I get for all my sacrifice? THIS is what I’m offered in exchange for laying down my life day after day?”
One year, I got a fistful of dried up helicopters from the maple tree in our back yard as my Mother’s Day gift. I think they were leftover from fall, very dry and brittle. I stuck the sad little display of last-minute love in a glass juice cup and set it on the counter. I smiled and thanked the giver of the gift, but I was disappointed that nobody did anything out of the ordinary. Nobody planned in advance.
And later, after I’d moped quite a bit, I thought, “No, this is all my child had to work with. With so few resources available, the gift was limited to what could be found in the back yard.”
I think I ended up getting all of that day’s meals prepared by someone else after my husband recognized the pout I wore on my sleeve.
But I did, finally, come around to a healthier, happier attitude. At some point, I decided to let go of my “right” to a happy Mother’s Day and stop wishing for more recognition or thanks. I stopped assuming I’d get some honor or special treatment.
I hope to save you from such a miserable, self-centered experience…not that I mean to imply you would be as small-of-spirit as I was. You may ooze gratitude more readily than I.
For anyone else who has struggled a little with feeling a little underwhelmed by Mother’s Day, here are several keys to a happier Mother’s Day that I plan employ this year. I offer them to you, as well, and wrote them as if addressing you (when they’re actually reminders for me).
- “It’s all good.” This phrase was popular a few years ago, and I used to hate it. Because whoever used it would make excuses or try to suggest that the entire world was filled with goodness and light. And I would get aggravated, because the world is not all good. One’s actions are not all good. One can be wronged. But I got to thinking about it in this context, the context of a potentially disappointing Mother’s Day, and I thought that I’d best accept anything and everything–or even nothing–as good. It’s all good. If someone forgot, it’s good. Because I didn’t become a mom to get flowers and brunch. If I get another collection of helicopters from the maple tree, or a basket of sweetgum balls from the trees out front, it’s good. It’s all good.
- Lower expectations. This is related to #1. If I have lower expectations, it’s easier to truly say that it’s all good. I’m heading into my Sunday with very low expectations. This year, there’s been a little whispering amongst the kiddoes, so something is being planned. I’m going to imagine nothing more substantial than a homemade card folded down from a piece of copy paper, with a hastily scribbled crayon message inside. I’ll expect nothing more. And the card will be good. Very good.
- Make suggestions. Hey, be bold. If no one is making breakfast in bed, simply order it something like this:
~ “Good morning, kiddoes! It’s Mother’s Day, and I thought that since I am right here in this cute bistro, Chez Kroeker, I might order myself a piece of toast with jam. What do you think? Is there a chef down there who could whip that up for me?” Make it fun. Make it a game. You’ll get toast with lots of smiles.
~ “For Mother’s Day, do you know what would make me feel super-special? If you would give me a back rub.”
~ “Do you think Papa and you could get me some sweet tea from McDonald’s? That would be a perfect treat this afternoon.”
~ “How about you all run all the errands for me around the house, and I get to lounge like a diva? Yes? Oh, thank you. Well, for starters, would you please get me my book? It’s next to the nightstand upstairs….ah, perfect. Thank you, dear. Now, how about some hot chocolate and my slippers?”
- Focus on other moms. Assume that every mom-friend you know will enjoy a little message of love and support. If their Mother’s Days turned out less-than-perfect, your word of encouragement might remind them that they are precious in every way.
~ e-cards: It’s too late for traditional cards, but why not send an e-card?
~ phone a friend.
~ e-mail a note and attach any photo that fits the occasion that you might have on hand.
- Focus on your own mom. (An early Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, if you’re reading this!) Growing up, I’m sure I did little to surprise or bless my mom on Mother’s Day. (I’m sorry, Mom. I’m really, really sorry.) This humbling realization sure puts my own disappointments in perspective.
- Treat yourself. If no one else does anything special for you, treat yourself. Indulge in a special chocolate or some drink that you hardly ever splurge on for yourself. Make yourself smile.
- Humble thyself. Jesus made this possible. I am a mom because He saved me and later gave me The Belgian Wonder and later still, entrusted four people to my care. I don’t deserve a big hoopla and gushy thanks. I don’t deserve any one of those kids. They are a gift. Plus, I fail so often, it’s humbling to think that anyone would rise up and call me blessed. This life with its ups and downs; it’s all from Him, through Him, for Him, because of Him, thanks to Him, for from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! (Romans 11:36)
A few years ago, I was at the Willow Creek Community Church website for some reason, and I saw a place to sign up for an occasional e-mail from Bill Hybels. On a whim, I clicked to sign up, and it comes so sporadically, I never remember to unsubscribe. On the 8th, he sent one to his list, and he wrote about watching Shauna Niequist, whom you may recall I was able to meet at the Festival of Faith and Writing (scroll down this post to see my photo with her), in her role as a mom:
I spent a day with my daughter Shauna and her 18 month old son Henry. Watching Shauna “mother” this little guy was a religious experience for me. Her unbridled joy and affection for Henry reminded me why moms are so critical in establishing a sense of self esteem and security in the lives of little ones. Her gentle discipline with him as he kept trying to yank the cables out of the back of the TV underscored how badly small children need protection and limits. And watching Shauna read and pray with Henry demonstrated how determined she is to lay a spiritual foundation in his young life. All that to say, I saw a young mom, up close and personal, laying it down for her son. This is what mothers do. This is part of the maternal instinct that God imprinted in the souls of women. I do hope that all of you spend a few moments this week figuring out just how you can bless your mother and grandmother.
Your husband and kids probably never signed up for Bill Hybels’ e-mails, so they won’t get this gentle reminder from him. If not, if nobody figures out just how to bless you on Sunday, I hope you are able to find a bit of happiness.
You are a blessing. You are. You’re a blessing to your family, no matter what they say, or don’t say.
And everything you do for them will be used for good as we come humbly before the Lord and confess our failings and accept His forgiveness and love.
As we let Him change us to be a little more like Him, using motherhood to do so, its ups and downs, we can truly say, “It’s all good.”
An early Happy Mother’s Day to you, dear mom-reader.
Monica- Paper Bridges says
right back at ya, ann. happy mother’s day 🙂
Meredith from Merchant Ships says
I’ll be the first to admit–when it comes to my birthday and Mother’s Day, I am sometimes “small in spirit.”
Thank you for such a helpful, humbling, preemptive strike against the Mother’s Day blues.
Happy Mother’s Day Ann!!!
Stretch Mark Mama says
I hear ya. And I am one of those mothers who is impossible to please – I don’t like gifts.
It is good to think of other moms on MD, as MD can be a painful day for many. People whose moms have passed away, who have poor relationships with their moms, who don’t know their moms.
I was tossing and turning last night, writing in my head all the reasons that I Hate Mother’s Day (ahem, :)) so I appreciate you having a healthier perspective than whatever ramblings I was going to come up with.
Mod Girl says
Thank you for this article — I loved it. Many times the key is shifting our own expectations.
I love your suggestion of focusing on other mothers! I have a dear friend who is waiting on an international adoption referral — I should have sent her a Mother’s Day card.
And, making a game out of Mother’s Day morning — I love it!
A blessed Mother’s Day to you!
lynn hopper says
Thank you, sweetie! (See you tomorrow)
And thank you for being a relatively easy child to raise, even though I used to say your brother was my sugar and you were my spice!
But you were both easy; I can take little credit for the fact you both turned out so well.
If I had had a difficult child, I’d have been a total failure.
Lovely post. A great reminder to us all -mom’s or not.
Great post and a wonderful reminder!
I guess I’m one of the few who don’t expect (or care about) Mother’s Day gifts. I’m a mom to two little girls. My husband will sometimes go with the girls to pick out a small gift, but, honestly, I don’t really care. I feel like they’re doing it just because someone decided that this certain day was to honor Mom, and not because they really want to. I mean, of course they want to, but I’d rather have a surprise of a bouquet of dandelions on a Wednesday afternoon than a bouquet of roses on Mother’s Day.
Wise thoughts. I have been sending Mother’s Day cards with inscriptions on how each mama inspires me to friends and family for a few years and really enjoying how much they appreciate the recognition.
You have blessed me today. That is what makes a good Mother’s Day. Thank you.
I got a sweet email from my sister today that made me think about spreading the love around.
I’ve actually not been above making my own reservations for lunch. I figure if I’m going to make the suggestion, and know what I really want, I can make a phone call, too.
Today was great.
You all have thrilled me so much–your comments are like surprise gifts on Mother’s Day, as I see your thoughts, your creative ideas, your encouragement. I hope your day was very good.
Thank you for each and every comment.
Ann, thank you for this article. I didn’t get anything for Mother’s Day- not a card or a flower or anything.
But, I started the day by making my own breakfast- something just a little more special than usual.
The rest of the day was hectic, we ended up in the hospital with my husband’s grandma, but I was *peaceful* and it was a wonderful day.
It wouldn’t have been that way if I hadn’t have stopped by here. 😉
Thanks to Meredith, too, for the link.
I put a card on my mother’s grave every mother’s day..I lost my mother on mother’s day of 2001…Its not a real happy day for me but I have two sons that fill the empty void on this special day..I miss her dearly…