Mother’s Day

Did anyone celebrate Mothers’ Day last weekend? It certainly is a made for America holiday- setting up expectations for gifts, phone calls and fancy brunches or dinners. All the ads featuring perfect family moments made me emotional. I  knew those were fantasies for the movies; yet I secretly wished something similar would happen to me.

I remember my first Mother’s Day. My baby was 10 months old and still nursing. I was home with her every day. The first three months were the toughest, but we had gotten to a point where she had a more predictable routine and I was enjoying playing with her, taking her for walks and making baby talk. My husband knew how hard I was working to take care of her and he made me hand-painted card with the most wonderful words of praise and appreciation of what a good mom  I was. The flowers and gift card were nice tokens of his admiration, but the love and respect he had for me were priceless. I realized that even though being a mom is tough, I was doing my best and my efforts were recognized.

Over the next few years, the kids started to give me cards and gifts they made at nursery school. I would get hugs and kisses and some presents my husband helped them pick out. This cute little celebration was fun and we often attended the Tulip Festival on the afternoon. It was a great family activity to do together, complete with kiddie rides, crafts and fair food.

By the time the kids got to grade school, they started questioning the fairness of Mother’s Day. Why wasn’t there a son or daughter day? Didn’t they deserve recognition too? We tried to start our own holidays for each of them, letting them pick a restaurant or activity and giving them a few presents. However, when they decided they didn’t want to return the appreciation the following year, we dropped them all.

No mom wants to force her child to give her gifts or praise. We are too good to make them lavish attention on us. Besides, forcing them to follow the protocol would result in something that doesn’t feel right because it is not given out of love. At that point it is better to ignore the holiday and remind ourselves that it was concocted by retailers.

Instead I turn my attention to my own mother or mother-in-law. I try to show them my love and respect year round- not just on one day of the year. Mothers deserve that every day and by the time the children are adults they should not need commercial reminders to show appreciation or affection for their moms.

I did send each of my moms a card around Mother’s Day, but the words I wrote were probably more meaningful than the token gift. So while I admit I fell into the trap, at least I know that these exchanges happen randomly throughout the year, as they should- and not just on a dictated day.

To all the moms out there whose children are at that age of defiance between dependence and maturation, hang in there and keep doing your job. When they are adults with children of their own, they will finally appreciate all you have done for them.  And now that Mother’s Day is over, I can go back to watching tv without all those touching commercials.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nancyjrab
    May 14, 2012 @ 10:50:54

    I have two pre-teens, one of whom is already acting like a full on teen: I am totally embarrassing to him, and any form of affection is just OUT. So the best Mothers Day gift I got was his — the day before Mothers Day, I got a casual, unsolicited I love You. Good enough for me.

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    • themiddlegeneration
      May 14, 2012 @ 11:30:49

      At this stage of the game, that is about as good as it gets. We don’t ask for a lot, so something spoken from the heart means much more than a card they felt obliged to buy. Hold on to those moments whenever they happen. They will feel like treasures in the years to come.

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  2. Carol
    May 15, 2012 @ 10:23:26

    When you think about it, it’s a bit sad that a day needs to be designated to show appreciation for your mother, your father, your grandparents – for the people who are closest to you and who spend the bulk of their lives providing and caring for you and worrying about you.Then again, our lives get busy so perhaps we need that reminder.

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    • themiddlegeneration
      May 15, 2012 @ 13:28:53

      You may be right about people needing reminders because they get too busy. But that is a sad thought in itself. Especially when most of us have skype or email, there should be no excuse for not reaching out to our loved ones on a regular basis and telling them how much they mean to us.

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  3. Susan
    May 15, 2012 @ 10:50:25

    Thanks for this post, Laura. I was annoyed on Sunday that my kids didn’t even get up in time to join me for church (I had vowed not to nag or yell on Mothers Day), and after I returned home from teaching Children’s Church and selling fair trade coffee to change and head down to Tulip Fest to work a booth, they were still in their pajamas hanging out in the same mess they had failed to pick up the night before! It’s nice to know that even a calmer and more patient mom than I didn’t get a lot for Mothers Day.

    I grew up not celebrating Mothers Day. My mother thought it was a capitalist plot to sell things. And we don’t emphasize it in our house now, but I guess I still have expectations from all they hype around me.

    Great post!

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  4. themiddlegeneration
    May 15, 2012 @ 13:34:05

    I think your mom is right. Wouldn’t we all like a day to be recognized and appreciated, though. And like you say, the expectations that we are falsely set up for, only make us feel worse.
    My day wasn’t a total blow out, though. I went boating and stopped for lunch with my husband and son; but my daughter stayed home to study for her AP exam. I did her laundry for her so she could stay focused. And I didn’t have to cook dinner- we ate leftovers.

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