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.