As I write this, Mother’s Day is approaching… but this applies to any holiday (Christmas, your birthday, your anniversary, etc…) Each year, after these holidays, I see many social media posts by women who are sad/angry/disappointed about a husband who forgot the holiday or a family who didn’t do enough for Mom on her special day. It’s a common problem that many women experience. It truly stings because after all we do, all year long, it’s hurtful to feel ignored or less-than when our special day doesn’t go as well as we had hoped.
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PSA for Moms on Special Occassions
Here’s what I want you to remember: Not everyone is naturally good at gift-giving or planning special days. The love our families have for us is not measured by the size of the gift (or even if there’s a gift at all). It’s measured by the daily interactions we have together… the words we speak, the giggles, the hugs, the fun we have together, the tiny acts of service that add up, our responses to hard situations and much more. Most of our husbands and children are full of goodwill towards us, whether they remember these special days or not. What happens on those other 364 days each year are far more important than what happens on this one day.
But it’s still hurtful if our special day gets forgotten or glossed over.
If you think your family is going to leave you feeling disappointed on your special day, here are 3 action steps you can take:
- Communicate! Our husbands and kids can’t read our minds. It’s not fair to say “But they should know what I want…” So if there’s something you want, tell them! “I would really love to spend the day going to this specific place with you, can we make plans to do that?” or “I would really love a store bought gift and this is what I’ve been eyeing…” or “I don’t want a gift, but I would really like to eat this particular meal that night…” Similarly, if there’s something you don’t want, speak up! “Honey, please don’t buy me flowers for mothers day…” or “If you make a meal for me, please don’t leave the mess behind for me to clean up on Monday.”
- Create a Wish list. Your family might know your favorite author, but not be able to keep track of which books you already own. Canning and Soap making are two of my hobbies, but there’s no way for my family to stay on top of what supplies I already have and what dream-items I would still like to get. Maintaining a wish list on a site like Amazon (and keeping it up to date) can really help your family select exactly the item you’ve been dreaming of!
- Buy Yourself A Gift. It’s totally ok to buy your own gift, as long as you choose to be happy about that choice (and not hold it against your family later)! I figure, it all comes from the same bank account anyway. My husband works hard to provide for us, and the fact that I can buy things for myself is the gift. In the past I’ve bought myself gifts, given it to the children with the instructions “wrap this and don’t tell your father because somebody should be surprised!” Then I’ve forgotten about the item and still been surprised anyway!
If your family consistently forgets these special occasions, it may be appropriate – at another time, so this doesn’t turn into a fight – to calmly say “You know, it really hurts my feelings when you don’t pay attention to these special holidays.” My husband’s family didn’t celebrate most of these holidays at all whereas my grandmother hired a caterer and went all out to have some spectacular family gatherings. When we got married these holidays weren’t on his radar. It wasn’t that he didn’t love me, they just weren’t part of his experience and we had to have some conversations about it so that we both understood where the other was coming from.
When Things Don’t Go As Planned
I remember one mother’s day as a little girl when all my mom wanted was one day alone. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that she was probably planning to take a much-needed nap and enjoy the peace and quiet. My father dutifully packed us up and took us to visit his mother. We had a wonderful day and assumed that my mother was enjoying some rare time alone at home. We got home only to discover that about 15 minutes after we had left, another family unexpectedly dropped off their child and drove away before my mother could answer the door. This was back in the 1980s before cell phones, so my mother couldn’t reach the other parents and ended up spending her entire mother’s day babysitting some one else’s kid, without even the courtesy of having been asked!
While there is nothing ok about what happened to my mother, I share this story to illustrate that sometimes Mother’s Day and other holidays simply don’t go as planned and it can be completely out of our control. At times like this, please remember that our children are watching and learning from our responses. Inhale deeply and then exhale grace, grace, grace…
The Most Important Thing
Ultimately, the most important thing is to remember that these special days aren’t about things. These occasions are about an opportunity to spend time enjoying each other. Even if the day goes badly (and sometimes it will) we choose the life we build for ourselves. Our husband and kids love us (even if they don’t show it the way we think they should) and we love them. Sometimes they fail to meet our expectations but that doesn’t change the love they have for us. Comparison is the thief of all joy so it’s important to avoid comparing our lives to the lovely things we see or read about online, or the picture perfect lives we imagine our neighbors and friends are having behind closed doors. In the same way that sometimes we need grace from our husbands and kids, they may need grace from us in this area. And that’s ok. This is your life. Take a deep breath and determine to enjoy and appreciate as much as possible, even when things don’t go the way we think they should.