When I first became a mom, I felt like I was at a crossroads on Mother’s Day. On one hand, I wanted to spend time with my family and receive all the gifts and attention my kids and spouse had to give. On the other hand, I also wanted to finally get a bit of “me” time. If Mother’s Day was my day, shouldn’t it be the one day a year I could do whatever I wanted, even if that was relaxing at the spa by myself?
My husband and I actually had a minor debate about this early on. At first, I was on team “me day” while he argued that Mother’s Day is really a holiday for the kids. He explained that in his view, it’s a way for them to learn gift-giving and figure out how to show love and appreciation for their mother. They couldn’t do that if I wasn’t around.
His argument really hit home for me, and after contemplating both views, I realized two things. First, both of us were right, and second, I had some internal work to do! Mother’s Day can be a sensitive day for me, and you might be able to relate if you’re a mom. Sometimes, what the kids think I want and what I actually want don’t line up. That’s where the internal work comes in. Every year, I have to work on surrendering to the kids’ plan for the day and accepting what they want to give me.
Sometimes, being appreciative is a struggle! One year, all I wanted was to sleep in, have a cup of coffee, and go to brunch at a nice, quiet restaurant. Instead, the kids charged into my room early in the morning, jumping and screaming! They couldn’t wait to go to a specific park with me, and they were dead set on “treating me” to lunch at The Original Pancake House — a noisy, chaotic family restaurant. I had to give myself a pep talk and practice a lot of self-awareness to get through that one.
There have definitely been many Mother’s Days when I messed up my reaction and either complained or blamed someone else when the day didn’t go the way I wanted. I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better. I’m also lucky to have an open line of communication with my husband. These days, he helps steer the kids’ plans and makes sure they carve out time for at least one thing I actually want to do.
I know many other women aren’t so lucky. Maybe you’re a single mom, your relationship is struggling, or you’re divorced without a spouse to rely on. In those cases, I think it’s important to both be open to receiving love from your kids and comfortable enough in your skin to stand up for yourself and what you want.
If your kids are old enough, you can explain to them what you’d like to do on Mother’s Day and ask them to work it into their plans. Alternately, you can fill in those gaps for yourself, even if it’s not actually on Mother’s Day. Carve out time for a full day at the spa, an extra hour in bed, or a long lunch with your girlfriends. Be open to receiving love from your kids (whether it’s in the form of a doll, a crazy piece of jewelry, or a noisy brunch), but remember to fill your love tank, too.
Mother’s Day gets even more complicated when you add grandmothers into the mix. For me, every year is a delicate balance between what I want, what the kids want, and what we should do as a family to honor my mom and my husband’s mom. After years of navigating this, here’s my best advice: Go into Mother’s Day with an open mind and no expectations. Remember that your kids won’t be kids forever. As cliché as it sounds, someday you’ll probably look back nostalgically on the macaroni necklace and terrible meal. At least, that’s what I tell myself!