Monday, May 9, 2011

Redefining Mother's Day

I hate Mother's Day.  I have for as long as I can remember.  As a child/teenager?  I'm not sure.  But definitely most of my adult life.

I believe Mother's Day was created with good intent, but I believe it tends to do more harm than good in too many cases.  It reminds so many women (and probably more than a few men) of painful things.  An inability to have a child, children who have severed relationships with parents, men who don't live up to our expectations, loss of a loved one.  So many things.  I hate that it causes people pain.

And for so many years I knew it would cause me pain.  I came into marriage believing that it was a father's job to teach his son how to make Mother's Day special for his wife, like something from a Hallmark commercial.  I'm not sure where I got this belief.  I watched my dad work hard to make the day special for my mom.  Sometimes he got it right.  Sometimes not.  But I expected my husband to know how to make it a special day for me.

Over the twenty-one years we've been married we've had a few good Mother's Days.  Not great, but not ending in tears.  But there have also been horrible ones.  The ones full of yelling and slamming doors.  Lots of crying.  So many unmet expectations on both sides. 

I can see now that neither of us knew what we were doing.  Frustration manifested itself in different ways, but that's what it was more often than not.

As Mother's Day approached this year, I felt the all too-familiar dread.  I felt obligations pulling on me.  I felt the expectations start to creep in.  I began bracing myself for another miserable holiday.

And then I stopped.  I decided that I'd had enough miserable Mother's Days.  If I wanted to have a good day then I was going to make it happen.  I knew I had to change my way of thinking and decide what I really wanted the day to be about.

I hate to have the focus on me.  Everyone watching me to make sure I'm happy and I approve of everything.  I feel like I am supposed to perform for everyone.  Not this year.

This year I decided that I would make it a peaceful day.  Fewer expectations.  Less stress. 

I visited my mom on Saturday and gave her flowers.  Since I live in the same town as my parents I have been with my mom every Mother's Day.  Whether I felt well or not.  Whether things were good for me emotionally or not.  Sometimes because I wanted to, other times out of obligation.  My mom and I are in a strange place right now and there's just too much unpredictability.  So this year I decided Sunday was for me and I would not feel guilty about it.  That part worked out great.

I also took the initiative to make things happen around my home like I wanted.  I assigned chores to be done Saturday and followed through on them instead of leaving them up to my husband.  It is my job to make myself happy -- I wish I'd learned that sooner.  I instructed my husband about what I wanted (clean house and yard and someone else making dinner).  Then I made it happen.

My mental change was so important, too.  Instead of waiting to be appreciated and celebrated, I celebrated being a mom.  I reveled in my children and all that they did for me.  I enjoyed my husband's company and all the work he put into it.  I chose to have a good Mother's Day.  I chose to celebrate womanhood, to remember all the women who have touched my life or the lives of my children.  Women rock!

And then something wonderful happened.  My family gave me the best gift they could possibly give.  Besides cleaning and cooking and being extra nice, they recognized me as I am.  They accepted me and found a way to make the day mine.

Two of my daughters came to me with an idea.  They suggested that since I hate Mother's Day but love Halloween we should have another Halloween.  I loved the idea.  I loved it the most because they were respecting my feelings.  They were telling me that they understood who I am.  They were able to look past what society says Mother's Day should be and celebrate who I am.  No tangible gifts, to respect my minimalist desires.  Thinking outside the box.

After a wonderful day at church (in which one daughter gave a talk with a beautiful little tribute to me), we came home and just enjoyed each other.  We had candy corn, m&ms, and pumpkin pie.  We watched Halloween movies.  We hung out together.  Two of my daughters sneaked out the back door without being seen.  The doorbell rang.  We answered to see these two teenage girls dressed up in costume (a nerd and a pretty, pretty princess).  "Trick or treat," they chorused as they held out their bags.  It totally made the evening.  I giggled as I put candy corn and m&ms into their bags.  They thanked us and left.  When they came back in the back door they acted as if nothing had happened.  It was so much fun.

I am so blessed.  I have an incredible family.  And I had the best Mother's Halloween Day ever. 

Happy Womanhood Day!  May we use this day to celebrate women everywhere for who they are.  And may we, as women, define and create our own happiness.


Running Circles said...

This post rocks!! I love how you changed your attitude and how your children really took the time to be truly thoughtful. I'm glad you had a wonderful day Robin--you deserve it!

Your kids dressing up and pretending to be come to the door--yea smile still on my face from that one =)

Bonnie said...

Wow! This is fabulous! I love you and am so glad it was a good day.

Anonymous said...

Robin, that is amazing! :D I love your perspective on this--it's interesting and new to me. I've never thought about it this way before, so thank you for sharing!

Jessica Grosland said...

Love you, Mom. :)

Day said...

Halloween for mother's day might possibly most be The Most Awesome Thing Ever. You clearly have brilliant kids.

Linda said...

Mother's Day is such a good example of the expectations put on us by our society to make something happen that is not quite real. And yet, you have handled it so totally beautifully Robin. I particularly like the way you took responsibility for your feelings and changed things around. I have to remember this.

Bre And Drew said...

That is amazing! I love that they did a halloween day for you! I've found the same thing to be true, if I tell andrew what I expect, and what I would love to see... he's more than willing to do it! Or at least tell me what he won't be able to do. We're both a lot happier because there aren't any secret expectations that aren't being met. He made me a wonderful dinner on sunday and then we visited both of our moms, and it was perfect!

Katy said...

Way to go, Robin! Way to take control.

Leah said...

Thanks for coming by my blog and commenting today. I love your post and how you made Mother's Day your own. I think that's the key to all this - changing our expectations and being happy with them.

Lisa said...

I think I hate mothers day too. but I love this post. I was super aware of a friend that day, that has miscarried and since been trying for awhile to have another. I Wondered what she felt like. My heart hurt for her. Glad you had a good one :-)

OneMommy said...

I hope I have kids that go so much out of the way one day to make my day special. I love that they acted like nothing happened when they came in from trick-or-treating!
Stopping by from SITS.

Stefanie said...

Love! Thanks for sharing! I wrote a similar post about Taking Control of Mother's Day. It's amazing when we let our expectations and ego go, and decide for ourselves how we are going to direct rather than control the situation!

I'm not sure if I'm doing this right, so please forgive my ignorance, but I came through from SITS. My email is


Grams said...

I love that you're taking responsibility for your own happiness. That's a real sign of strength and health. I had issues with my mother and never really managed to come to a good way of dealing with Mother's Day while she was alive.

Thanks for visiting on my SITS day. Come back any time. You're always welcome at my place.