I had the best Mother’s Day I’ve had since becoming a mother this past Sunday.
It wasn’t because I received any gifts.
In fact, I didn’t receive any gifts at all this year.
I did get one handmade card from Number 5.
And Number 5, 6 and 7 made me breakfast in bed with some help from their father.
That was really nice.
It was delicious.
But that wasn’t why I had the best Mother’s Day I’ve ever had, either.
Most of us moms bust our asses with very little appreciation or acknowledgment day in and day out.
We take care of all the details that don’t typically cross the minds of most men.
We think and we prepare and we anticipate and then we plan accordingly.
We don’t do this stuff so our families will tell us how awesome we are.
That would be nice. It would feel really good to be acknowledged out loud.
Even on the 364 days that aren’t Mother’s Day.
While we do these things not to be acknowledged but because we want to take good care of our families, we often do something else.
Especially around Mother’s Day.
We test our families.
We don’t say anything.
And we wait.
We wait for acknowledgment.
We wait for gifts.
We wait for appreciation and gratitude and recognition.
We wait to see if anyone has been paying fucking attention for the last 364 days.
And then when our families fail the test, we get pissed.
We feel unappreciated and taken advantage of and rejected.
Why do we do this?
Our families are not mind readers.
I know there are some lucky ladies out there who have families who go all out on Mother’s Day.
And then there are a lot of women who don’t have those families.
I want to let you in on a little secret.
If your spouse didn’t make a big deal out of your first Mother’s Day, he’s not gonna do it on the fifteenth Mother’s Day.
You can continue to give your family unannounced tests.
You can say shit under your breath.
You can be sarcastic and passive aggressive.
Or, you can do what I did this year.
I announced to my family what gift I was giving myself this year.
I didn’t give them an opportunity to forget Mother’s Day.
There was no test.
I hand delivered the answers to the test the week before Mother’s Day.
I did give the kids a little test.
Four days before Mother’s Day.
It was an open book test.
“Do you know what this Sunday is?” I asked them.
“WHAT?” they said.
“The first day of summer?”
“The pool will be ready to swim in?”
“Are we going somewhere?
“What is it???” they asked.
I directed them toward the calendar.
“Oh,” they replied, unimpressed. “It’s Mother’s Day.”
“I am letting you know right now that for Mother’s Day I am doing nothing. I am staying in my bed all day. I am going to watch my favorite shows on the iPad and take naps and sleep as much as I want,” I informed them.
Because that was what I really wanted.
A day of nothing.
A day of no cooking or cleaning or parenting.
I let everyone know exactly what I wanted.
I gave multiple reminders leading up to Sunday.
I didn’t leave any room for misunderstandings.
And then I did it.
And it was awesome.
Somewhere between giving birth for the first time and this past Sunday, many moms concluded that asking for exactly what they wanted was wrong.
Or weak. Or selfish. Or whatever.
And you don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day to let your family — or anyone — know what you want and what you need.
Sure, in a perfect, idyllic world your family knows all this stuff and plans a whole day for you without any hints or reminders or you having to say anything at all.
They just get it.
But most of us don’t live in those worlds.
And so, if that’s the kind of world you want to live in, the one where you get what you want on Mother’s Day — or any other day — then you gotta stop testing your family and start letting them know exactly what it is you want.
No, it’s not as romantic that way.
But neither is wasting a whole day being really fucking pissed because nobody did anything for you.
You can wait for other people to pass your silent test.
Or you can present them with the information, and then guide them through it.
I did the silent testing for fourteen years.
It never got me what I wanted.
But being up front and crystal clear sure did.
So that’s the approach I’m sticking with from now on.
I love your blog even though my kids are all grown. You are a great mom and I love that you share the good the bad and the ugly. However(you knew that was coming didn’t you?) I am sad that you and so many younger mothers have given in to the men won’t do this that or the other. I did not march and go to endless meetings and do thousands of hours of education on gender for you and other moms to give in and assume you have to do it all. Please teach your significant others to do their share of the backbreaking, sleepless nights work of parenting. In the long run it benefits all. Wife, husband and children. Amen
not your average mom says
Hey Susan — I have not given in to anyone and I’m not doing it all. But as you and I both know, you cannot control what other people do (or don’t do). I’m continuing the work you have done through my kids! Thanks for following along!
Lynda G. says
I agree with you. I also had the best Mother’s Day ever. Even when my husband gave me an Easter card by mistake, LOL. The verse in the card was lovely and we had a great laugh. It was the best Mother’s Day/Easter card ever!
I am always very clear about what I want. I tell my kids and husband every year all I want is for them to clean the house so I don’t have to. Just one day where I don’t have to yell at them to do the dishes or get stuff done. I have been married 15 years. This is all I ever ask for since becoming a mom 13 years ago. I NEVER GET IT. I am very clear, my husband knows, but it would require work which he is not willing to do and my girls take their cue from dad. We went to chik fil a and ate outside then got ice cream. It wasn’t what I asked for it never is. It pisses me off. Why can’t they do what I ask?
I love my family, but rarely do I feel wanted or loved. I ALWAYS feel needed, but not often wanted. It is a hard road to walk when you are clear and people just don’t care.