This Mother’s Day will be perfect. I will wake up to the sound of birds chirping sweetly outside my window. The hot water won’t ever run out in my shower. My breakfast will be hot and my coffee fresh. The kids will get their shoes on before we ask, and they won’t bicker or fight in the pew at church nor try to use the communion rail as a jungle gym. The weather will be a delightful mid-70s, so we can enjoy the afternoon outside. And my husband won’t have to work, so we’ll have the whole day to just be a family without any schedule or to-do list, no stress or anxiety.
Mother’s Day, like any other day, won’t be perfect. I will wake up to the screech of my phone’s alarm under my pillow, beckoning me to wake up before the kids do so I can be fed and caffeinated before they emerge from their rooms, groggy and already bickering, asking at the top of the lungs if it’s a school day, stay-at-home day, or a church day.
My coffee will be a sad, reheated cup from the day before that I won’t get to finish, because the toddler will wake up halfway through my third sip, and I’ll realize if I don’t get in the shower we’ll be running late. My shower will be hot, but cut short as the hot water disappears quickly. I’ll try on several outfits for church before settling on my tried and true that fits around my ever-growing fourth baby bump, and then I’ll realize we have to leave for church in five minutes, and I haven’t gotten breakfast yet.
That breakfast will end up being a pack of fruit snacks gobbled down as I climb into the car and listen to the kids cry about how they’re not getting any of them. I’ll promise to give them some later if they behave in church. They will do well in the pew, or as well as they do any other week, and somehow I end up not quite as frazzled as other weekends, because hey, my husband actually does have the day off this year. But the weather? This is Wyoming. The forecast may say 70s, but I’d put money down on at least a freak hail storm, if not snow. And wind.
Like most holidays, Mother’s Day can come loaded with high expectations for us moms. We might envision elaborate breakfasts in bed, sweetly crafted kids’ gifts that declare their love for us and all we do for them, or just a phone call from our grown kids. Instead, we get coffee reheated for the umpteenth time and a cold Pop Tart, our kids arguing over who’s looking at who in an annoying way, teenagers who would rather hang out with friends than be with us, and a phone call that never comes.
It can carry so many disappointments for moms who dream of this day going as they hope just one time, and for some it brings so many tears over those years of dreaming that they begin to dread the day altogether. Here are some tips to help avoid those Mother’s Day disappointments.
1. Plan Ahead
It might seem unfair that a mom has to plan for her own holiday, but this is what we do so often as managers of the home affairs anyway, right? Make sure the pantry is stocked with your favorite wine, beer, ice cream, chocolate, or whatever treat you might need at the end of the day. Plan your monthly budget to allow for a little splurge on this day so you don’t have to cook. Make reservations at that restaurant you’ve been dying to try. Also have several ideas for how you’d like to spend the day, so if the weather takes a turn your rained-out idyllic Mother’s Day picnic lunch won’t completely dampen your mood.
2. Be Realistic
If your husband has to work and your kids are all under five, you’re probably not going to get a fancy breakfast in bed complete with flowers and sweet smiles. If your budget is tight and you’re already scrimping to pay off debt and make ends meet, don’t set your sights on a fancy gift of jewelry, skip the store-bought flowers, and don’t expect a swanky restaurant meal—unless you budgeted for all of that, that is.
Some things simply aren’t feasible, doable, plausible, or likely given present circumstances, and it’s good to realize the limitations in what can happen. We’re not all princesses, and we don’t all get what we want—a lesson our moms probably tried to teach us, though we still struggle to remember it at times.
3. Be Honest
This day can hurt, I know. For those who have lost children and babies or who carry the cross of barrenness, for those who have tumultuous relationships with their own mothers, for those who are estranged from their children (grown or still growing), for those who are lonely or grieving the loss of their mother, this day can bring a surge of pain.
We might want to pretend this day doesn’t exist, that it’s just any other Sunday, although perhaps it’s over the top to skip church to avoid another year’s Mother’s Day sermon that stings a little too much. Life isn’t easy. Pain is quite real. Allow yourself time to deal with whatever is plaguing you, but I don’t recommend skipping church. God’s Word is what we need when life’s crappiness hits hard.
4. Remember, It’s Not All About You
I need this reminder all the time, personally. It’s easy to wallow in whatever we’re facing in our own lives. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to see the world outside the lens of our life’s situations.
Whether we’re struggling because we’ve always wanted to be a mom but haven’t been blessed with children, or mourning the loss of our own mother, or regretting that our mom wasn’t the quintessential motherly type who baked cookies and chatted over coffee with us on sunny afternoons, it can be quite good for us, after we’ve let ourselves acknowledge those pains, to remember that this holiday doesn’t revolve around us or even our own mothers, but around all mothers. It’s a day to celebrate life and all the mothers who have ever birthed, raised, and reared children.
5. Reach Out
Call a friend who might be lonely. Plan to meet up for coffee and chat. Take a meal to a single mother from church or the mom whose husband is deployed overseas again. Offer to babysit for a couple hours so a weary neighbor can take a nap. Buy items to donate to the local crisis pregnancy center. Visit the local nursing homes to be an ear and warm shoulder for the older generation, who may be particularly feeling the loneliness of this day.
Give yourself and everyone else a break on this day. Have fun, smile, and go with the flow. Work to laugh at the mishaps and cry when grief weighs too heavily. Let yourself breathe. Enjoy that slice of triple chocolate cake, and don’t fret when the baby smears it all over your white shirt (although I would wonder why you made a rookie mistake and wore white at all). Have a beer or a glass of wine. Watch your favorite movie after the kids are in bed. Curl up with a good book.
If the day does go awry, remember, tomorrow’s another day. Of course, it’s also Monday, so there is that.