Mother's Day is over-rated. And hard to celebrate.

I have to remember to lower my expectations for holidays. When my expectations are low and things go wrong, the expectations are met, and I am satisfied. When things go right, I am surprised and happy. High expectations of things beyond my control breed dissatisfaction.

Part of the problem with Mother's Day this year was that I couldn't really decide what I wanted from the day. For the weeks leading up to the day, I dreamed of several hours to myself - to go out hiking with the dog or at least to the fabric store to get fabric for a new quilt. I wanted recognition for my hard work and long hours as a mom and recognition that I had once had a life separate from child and job.

As the weekend approached, I changed my mind and decided that Mother's Day should be about appreciating my relationship with my child. I wanted to, with finals behind me, be able to play with her and be fully present in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow's lecture. I wanted lots of hugs and snuggles and giggles. And, I reminded myself, I could still take the dog for a short walk and enjoy a couple of hours to myself during her naptime. I planned to use that time to update Minnow's blog with photos and video from the last two months. That way I could revel in my daughter's cuteness *and* have at least a lame present for her grandmas to enjoy at the end of the day.

The day started out well enough. A late Saturday night allowed a lazy Sunday morning and breakfast at a greasy spoon. The weather was threatening, so after we got back from breakfast I took the dog out for a walk in the neighborhood. When I got back 30 minutes later, Minnow was asleep in Fish's lap (so cute!). I started to upload the videos.

And five minutes later Minnow woke up. And refused to go back to sleep. Instead she spent the afternoon, alternately fussing, playing, throwing food, begging to nurse, and refusing to sleep. When she was happy, I'd ask Fish what he wanted to do with the afternoon, and he'd ignore me. He didn't encourage me to go out on my own and he didn't want to do anything as a family. So I got crabby. I spent a while reading blogs, a while playing with Minnow, a while doing laundry...basically just wasting the day.

After a couple of hours, Minnow decided to play outside, and I went to push her on the swing. When we got back in, Fish was busy reading a cookbook and then got to work in the kitchen -- completely ignoring Minnow and I. He'd decided to cook dinner, which is sweet, but would have been sweeter with a little better communication. At 5:30 dinner was ready, and Minnow had a melt-down. Finally she did take a nap for 45 minutes. More miscommunication between Fish and I followed until bedtime and when he went to put her to bed (= 30 minutes of full-on screaming) I collapsed into bed as well - just eager for the miserable day to be over.

Anyways, it was a pretty crappy day. I didn't get any substantive time to myself, I didn't get the giggles with Minnow, because she was mostly over-tired and cranky, and I didn't even get a clean house, any work done, or any food in the fridge to get us through the week.

I'm not anxious for next Mother's Day to roll around - thank goodness it's 52 weeks ago. Until then, I'll try to enjoy plain ol' weekends, when I put Minnow down for her naps and bedtime, and, more importantly, when my expectations are almost non-existent.


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Unfortunately, being a mother is not about brunches, flowers, oodles of personal time, and happy toddlers and spouses. If it is anything like my mother's day, it's more about dressing an unwilling and screaming child, rushing to get to church on time, frantically making dinner while the child is napping, washing 5 loads of laundry, and all the time wishing that you had the evening to read the mountain of papers stacked on your desk (or wish you could just find your desk). Oh, and throw in plunging the toilet for good measure. Being a mother tends to get in the way of mother's day.

Things will get better as Minnow gets older, and the whole sleeping thing becomes less of an issue. Plus, Fish probably needs a couple more practice runs to sort out how best to let you know how much he appreciates you. Hubby used to sleep too late, then tell me to go back to bed to receive the breakfast in bed he and Thing 1 had been planning. He has finally figured out how to get that together before I can take it any more and get up.

Anyway, clean houses are overrated.

Sorry to hear that the day didn't go very well. I'm fairly certain Mother's Day gets a bit better as children get older. (Oh hell, for me, almost every day has gotten better as they've gotten older). Also one of the biggest downfalls of holidays is the Disintegration of the Routine which almost inevitably leads to meltdowns in small children.

How about when you get a really nice day with Minnow, you just call that day Mother's Day? Screw the calendar.

By Writer Chica (not verified) on 12 May 2008 #permalink

My mother has been depressed lately for various reasons. So I went to and had a bouquet sent to her house. She called me and said she was so happy she cried. Any holiday in which a few mouse clicks can lift a family member out of depression is a good holiday in my book.

I am much like you. . . . . I never have known what I wanted. . . . what I am supposed to want, but I would have to say that now that my girls are big enough to do things on their own. . . . my youngest gave me a very meaningful card. . . . . the oldest made me a clay flower pot with Texas wild flowers. . . . her husband made one for his mom. . . . I loved my gifts, and I loved that the girls were thoughtful enough at 20 and 24 to remember their mom.
You might give hubby a clue as to his role in Mother's Day. He will catch on, but only if you tell hime what you would like.

Hallmark has a lot to answer for. Why should one particular day be more meaningful in family life than any other?

My most cherished motherhood memories came to me randomly. A 3 year old fell asleep in my arms and I held her for an hour, knowing it would probably be the last time she ever napped on my lap. A 6 year old threw her arms around me and declared that when she grew up, she wanted to be a Mommy just like me. A 15 year old scornfully told another teenager to stop being a wuss because "even her Mom" could do whatever they were discussing.

Pay no attention to the calendar. The adventure is unfolding each and every day.

Sorry you had a bad day! My day was a bit better (we went for Indian buffet lunch), but my husband was still in grading jail, so we couldn't really do much of anything. I can't even remember any past Mother's Days specifically (other than a gift or two), but I know we usually have a lunch out. I agree with the other commenters- that you can't plan special days or moments for the most part. You just have to go with the flow. As others have said- it will be easier when Minnow is bigger, so keep that in mind!

Dads who are new at the Mother's Day thing sometimes need specific instructions the first couple of years (think new grad student in the lab vs the seasoned postdoc)

They don't always know that the resturants require reservations or that you had your heart set on planting the begonia beds, etc. I remember one year when I ran around like a fool in the preceding week making sure my mom, MIL, and the daycare provider got flowers and I just got a card.

This year we went to the zoo after church; that might be a fun idea for you next year - or next week.

I spent so many Mother's Days wishing I was a mother that I try to be thankful even for stressful moments.

By Female Enginee… (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

If it makes you feel any better, my mother's day was worse. My daughter, who seemed perfectly well at the time, threw up in the middle of a violin lesson. The building where she is taught was mostly locked and we couldn't find any cleaning supplies. I ended up cleaning it up with three trash bags (two used as gloves) a roll of paper towels and a bucket of water (actually a trash can filled with water). On the one hand I felt that engineers really CAN do anything with limited materials, on the other hand it was gross. So..on the bright side at least you weren't cleaning up barf.

-Dr. Mom

I had an awesome Mother's Day, but I do remember thinking at one point that even if it is a day to honor you, your kids are still your kids.

I enjoyed calling my own Mom. I appreciate her so much more since I have had kids myself.

Dads who are new at the Mother's Day thing sometimes need specific instructions the first couple of years (think new grad student in the lab vs the seasoned postdoc)

Dads who are both old and new at the Mother's Day thing do not typically deal well with constantly changing and diametrically opposed (Minnow time / spa time) desires. Nor do they navigate closely held secretive expectations that they are supposed to magically fulfill in any satisfactory way.
[/typical insulting male!]

I'll take a slightly different tack on the "things get better with time" expressed by comments here and note that this is the good thing about developing your own family's holiday traditions. Yes, traditions can be stultifying and predictable but they are also comforting for all.

I am a single Mom so starting when my kids were quite young I took them to the flower section of the grocery store the day before Mother's day - gave them some money and told them to get me some flowers. They actually came to take this selection very seriously (they would argue over exactly which bunch of flowers to buy for a good 20 min).
They are older now so they do their own thing. This year my daughter painted me a piece of art (she is an artist) and my son rode his bike to the store to get me some turtle chocolates and gave me a heartfelt and hand-made card.
What I am trying to say is you pretty much gotta train them to treat you the way you want to be treated (I assume husbands are the same).

I had a great gift from my son on this, my first Mother's Day... he slept for 3 hours, twice. Unfortunately, he was only 6 weeks old and couldn't tell me this plan, so I wasted that time on little 15-minute chores, not knowing I could have just passed out next to him... or taken that looong wonderful shower I've been dreaming about. :-)

SW, I have found myself incredibly frustrated at 'wasted' afternoons when I wanted to do 'something' and dh just wasn't communicating. In a less heated moment, mention this frustration to dh. That he NEEDS to tell you his plans. Now I ask straight out 'what were you planning for this afternoon, because I want to do X or Y' and that way we work it out with not as much frustration (usually). My first Mother's Days were pretty miserable (because of the communication thing). Now they are great (even if they are spent futzing at home doing not much).