Mother’s Day and expectations

During many of my early years as a mother, I looked forward to Mother’s Day as a day full of mom-pampering where I didn’t lift a finger, and everyone smiled and spent the whole day trying to please me.  Most years, when the day ended up being more mundane than my expectations, I’d feel disappointed and under-appreciated.  What?  Diaper-changing?   Dishes?  Kids fighting?  I took it all as a slap in the face, and some Mother’s Days ended up with me feeling downright cranky.

Older-child adoption threw another wrench in the works.  It can be darned hard for a kid to whole-heartedly celebrate a new mother when they’re still grieving the loss of their first mom.  Several recent Mother’s Days have been such a snarl of emotion that I wished we’d never mentioned the day to the kids.

This year I consciously approached the day with zero expectations, like any other Sunday in the year.   I made meatloaf and a dessert a day ahead so that the evening meal could be easy.   And then I decided that any good thing that came I would just treat as a bonus.

So how did the day go?  Well, the morning began with hand made cards and hugs from most of the children. I got text messages and facebook messages from older kids. We stopped at my mother-in-law’s for a nice visit in the afternoon.   Invited my parents to come eat dinner with us on the spur of the moment.

I got help with meal prep, and the guys pitched in and did dishes afterward.  We visited.  Watched a movie.   Played pinochle. I was wished Happy Mother’s Day by my son-in-law and my almost-son-in-law. And my kids were unusually cheery and cooperative all day, even the ones who have struggled in previous years.

I don’t know if it was just a day of extra blessing, or if it had to do with my lack of expectations. But it was a lovely day, and I am grateful.

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

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  1. Wish you had posted this last Friday. 😉
    Expectations always, I repeat, always get me in trouble. Yesterday was no exception. The crazy hilarious ironic part is that we cut out big birthday parties with friends and such because I didn’t like the me-fest attitude it fosters in our kids. Yet, I sure want Mother’s Day to be a mama-fest. Sigh. 40 and still learning, that’s for sure.

  2. I know what you’re talking about. In my family we have a tradition to do gifts and a dinner out with the whole family on mother’s day. My husband had even given me some small tokens “from the dogs” for mother’s day prior to my son being born. Then my son was born and was about 4 months old when the first Mother’s Day rolled around. My husband and I went out and bought presents, cards and flowers for my mother and grandmother. We planned the dinner out with everyone. I had already begun making his father’s day present the next month (a picture collage, of sorts). We show up and everyone opens their presents and my husband got my … nothing. Not a card, not a flower, not a present, nothing. I felt humiliated as I sat there with the other mother’s opening their presents. He should have known, he did know, but he just bungled it up and everyone can make mistakes. I was experiencing PPD and I think it hit me extra hard because of that too (I just had a baby, it’s so hard, does no one even notice?) The next year he made sure to acknowledge it in multiple ways to “make up” for the year before, and this year (year 3) we were able to laugh about it. Not that he needed it now but my dad reminded him multiple times that mother’s day was coming up so he should get me something … haha

  3. My Mother’s Day celebration was Saturday, so we could do it with my family since my brother had to work yesterday. Our celebration was wrapped up with a 4th bday party for one of my sweet girlies, birthdays for Mom and I from 2 weeks ago that we hadn’t gotten around to yet and the anticipation of my niece’s impending birth any day now, so we showered my SiL on her 1st mother’s day. It was a wonderful day where all of us got a little celebrating in! AND I got Family Feasts for $75 A Week because my mama finally has the hang of that beautiful thing known as the Amazon Wish List! So yesterday was a low-key day filled with napping (me), book finishing (me), an empty dishwasher (not me!) and menu planning. I loved it!

  4. You have such a precious family!

  5. Great Family you have! guys out in their own abode are so much more willing to pitch in and help in the kitchen, now that they know so much more of the background chores.

    I love when my sons come “home”. I do love the cards. I save all of them. Even had to print out an e-greeting.

    At our house, Mother’s Day usually gets overlooked because it happens the same week as Husband’s birthday, Firstborn Son’s birthday, Nephew’s birthday, and the University graduation traffic. Which is nice for all those folks earning a degree, but living a block north of the stadium, there’s no place to park, even if I might want to have a party for my own interests.

  6. Oh, expectations. Though I was warned by a very wise mother many years ago, I still expected. Then, when it didn’t happen, I began to pile on the guilt…if only I was a better mother, then all would treat me like a Hallmark commercial mother. The guilt became worse and worse, and soon, I hated Mothers’ Day, to the point of not mentioning it without anger. The guilt and depression deepened with each year. Then, miraculously, through the lesson at church of a very inspired woman, I learned that I was allowing the guilt, that came from unrealized expectations, to cripple me. I asked forgiveness for the things I was guilty for, set aside that which I could not control, and had the BEST Mothers’ Day ever yesterday. I actually smiled, instead of sinking deeper and deeper. Take responsibility for what you can, or could control, forget the things you can’t, and love all for exactly what it is!

  7. There are so many aspect to adoption that have never occurred to me. It makes total sense why it would be a bit strained for the older ones adopted later in their life. You constantly amaze me by your unconditional acceptance of things that would break my heart time and again. This was the 1st mother’s day I didn’t hear from one of my kids and I didn’t really expect it….but hoped. Motherhood has so many facets……I am so very glad that you have a lovely day with your precious family!

  8. I treat Mothers Day as a day to reflect and appreciate my blessings, and of course they are my children. I don’t expect anything and when asked what i would like, my reponse is always i have already got it. I am a Mother my children love me unconditionally what more can you ask for.

  9. I sort of flipped out my first Mother’s Day, too. I had a 3 week old baby, yet between my own Mom, my MIL, and two grandmas who lived close by, “I” was overlooked a bit. My sweet husband compensated quite a bit over the following years, but yesterday was a nice balance of rest and reality. I put some food in the crockpot in the morning before church, which helped me feel like I didn’t “make dinner” when I got home 😀 You were smart to make your meatloaf ahead of time, too!

    Hubby made me a card. I had my 4 year old Sunday school class make necklaces and cards for their moms (so, consequently, that’s how I got my Mother’s Day gift from my own 4 year old–hahaha!). Our priest always gives a lovely, spot-on sermon about the gift of motherhood on Mother’s Day, too.

    I unexpectedly got a free iced latte when I went in for an after-church latte, and then I didn’t have to change any diapers for the rest of the day! I can’t complain 🙂

    Happy belated Mother’s Day, Mary! Glad you had a good celebration yesterday!

  10. Christine D. says:

    So glad the day was blessed in more ways than one. Thinking of you and praying for your weeks to come.

  11. Thanks for sharing! Expectations trip us up so often, don’t they? I need to be reminded of that.

  12. I am not a mother so Mother’s Day usually meant to me – a sadness over loss of our mothers, feeling odd and left out. But this year – I realized I’m so blessed to share with blog friends and personal friends the adventures (?) of their children and I do have kids – they happen to be caprine rather than homo sapiens!

  13. Enjoyed your post…I’ve felt some of those thoughts too. This year my husband bought crab legs on Friday (from the dogs)for an early Mother’s Day present in case my step-kids forgot. After church on Sunday, I curled up and finished a great book, “Same Kind of Different as Me” (I highly recommend). My step-son called in the afternoon and my step-daughter and son-in-law brought fresh morel mushrooms, brats, and store bought salads to our house for dinner. And…we played pinochle too! It was a great day.

  14. I had the same sort of approach this year, given the fact that Brian was just barely back home. And it was great!

  15. After 13 years of Mother’s Days, I finally came to the conclusion that it is my expectations of what I think Mother’s Day should be, that make my Mother’s Day completely unenjoyable. I have decided that starting now, I will do just what you did and treat it like any other day, and enjoy anything that does happen.