How Do You Really Feel about Mother’s Day?


It’s okay if you don't know

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

I love my mom. I love my mom, and I love motherhood, and I love supporting other mothers, and I love the whole made up, capitalist endeavor that is modern Mother’s Day in the U.S. (and I also totally agree that the commercialization of Mother’s Day is pretty much the worst). But all of these beams of sunshine-y, heartfelt feels that come shooting out of me in mid-May still don’t make up for the fact that every year when Mother’s Day rolls around, I experience emotions that are complexly layered (at best). One minute I’m shooting rainbows of love out of my eyeballs and walking around like a real life heart-eyed emoji, and then an hour later I’m nervously circling my phone, wondering aloud what time is the best time to call my own mom, which topics are definitely okay to talk about and which are not, if she liked the gift that I sent her, whether or not my siblings remembered to call, and if this might be the time that we move beyond our standard fifteen minutes of, “Oh how are you? I’m fine, and you?”

If there’s anything about my life that (I think) I understand now at age thirty-two, it’s that my mom definitely parented me in a way that is markedly different from the way I parent my own child. This difference was largely borne out of necessity than desire (I think), because the circumstances surrounding each of our mothering journeys are markedly different. My home growing up was unstable, tumultuous, loud, and above all else, just filled with so many people. There wasn’t time to cater to one individual child over another because there were four of us; there was never, ever enough money; and it seems like you don’t really get the luxury of getting to know the human your child is when you’re facing a very real lack of food or emotional harmony or feeling like your physical being isn’t exactly safe. I, on the other hand, live with two other humans (one child, one adult partner), am reasonably financially stable (I mean, don’t ask me on an in-between pay period week), am married to a guy who is stunning in his ability to be kind and level, and have an abundance of time to get to know the child that we’re raising together. My kid and I have multiple shared interests, hobbies, and experiences. He tells me secrets that I would have never dared confess to my own mother (and still might not). He’s my best guy. In the most blatant parenting cliché ever, he has brought joy into my life that I didn’t know was possible.

As I get older, and especially as I parent my kid for longer, I’ve been able to slowly, sort of, kind of unravel the thread that is and was my mother’s journey as a parent. As a result, I have (quietly) forgiven her for many things that I saw as foundational transgressions against my being ten years ago. I still have a whole host of pains, regrets, and wishes built up inside me, and I’m always in the business of trying to sort out what of that is real and true and rooted in my childhood, and what of that is something I need to work on, as I parent my own kid.

This sticky ball of emotional wax is always present—my feelings on parenting and being parented are constantly at the forefront—but never is it more haunting than this time of the year. You know, when social media is just inundated with so many examples of the mother–adult child relationship done right (or at least… done differently). I will often join in, because above all else I recognize that my mother went through some shit just to keep us and herself on the planet, and I know she loves the hell out of each of her kids. But I don’t go overboard, I don’t lie, and I don’t try to make my relationship with my mother more than what it is—even if I wish that it was, or could be. I don’t have photos of me and my mom hanging out (because we don’t), and I can’t make collages and put pink glittery hearts all over them. I don’t even have many experiences hanging out with my mom solo as an adult (beyond one ill-fated road trip we took a few years back), and I don’t know if I ever will.

When it comes down to it, sometimes I want to level some real talk on my Facebook wall, for myself and for anyone else who is struggling to communicate the myriad of ways Mother’s Day can shut down a person. But I’m not feeling quite that bold today (I mean, it’s May and I’m still feeling the burn of broken off Facebook friendships from last year’s election cycle)… but I don’t mind talking about it here.

what is your relationship with your mom like? how does mother’s day make you feel? if you’re also a mom, how do you think about motherhood as you parent your own child? what lessons from your mom do you keep—and what do you toss away? how did yesterday go for you, either way?

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

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  • CMT

    I had an interesting conversation with friends yesterday about the peer pressure to make a big huge Facebook post on Mother’s Day. I didn’t, because neither my mother nor I are into performative expressions of emotion like that. I just called her and we had a nice chat about how terrible Republican politicians are, which is exactly what she wanted. I did roll my eyes at some of the more over-the-top posts I saw in my feed yesterday, but I think there’s a lot of pressure to make those public declarations because everybody is doing it, even if it’s not something you’d normally do.

    • penguin

      Agreed. I should have avoided Facebook yesterday but kept checking it anyway. It seems like everybody now does one of those over-the-top posts where they talk about how their mom is the absolute best ever, and sacrificed so much, and here’s a few cute pictures of us being amazing together, and whatever. More power to the people that actually do have great moms, but a lot of it feels forced.

      • savannnah

        This is interesting, as someone who does have a great relationship with my mom I do participate in the fb shout out and for me it come from a place of thinking I just don’t praise my mom directly like that publicly at any other time and damn this woman has done a lot for me. It is totally performative because its public and I know there are lots of my friends who post things about parents they haven’t spoken to in years.

        • penguin

          Yeah I don’t mean to imply that none of those shout-outs are genuine, I’m sure a lot of them are. I just get sick of seeing them, and it seems like most of those posts contain the same sentiments. Totally understand on doing a post like that if you’re actually close with your mom. I normally do something like that on father’s day, because I am really close with my dad and I want to recognize him publicly for being a great person/parent. I’m sure there are people who see that and have the same reaction that I do to mother’s day posts.

          • savannnah

            I agree. I do have friends who either have lost their moms or have non-hallmark relationships with their moms and they absolutely avoid fb on mothers day.

          • emmers

            I feel like these things should just be done privately. There are just too many possible feelings for observers.

      • Katherine

        I feel you on this. My mom hates all things social media, so this isn’t something I do, but my mother-in-law is fairly into it. My husband’s siblings always make big, dramatic posts for any sort of family-related holiday (mother’s day, father’s day, siblings day…) and my husband just doesn’t – that isn’t a meaningful expression of love to him and he doesn’t feel the need to give in to the family peer pressure surrounding the need to make these kind of posts. However, I know that he feels somewhat judged for not doing so.

      • Eh

        I spent the whole day in the car driving so I missed most of the Mother’s Day posts. Some people take them very seriously! A few years ago my SIL posted on Father’s Day about the fathers and father figures in her life – my BIL, her dad, her grandfather, one of her pastors – but excluded our FIL. My MIL was livid (behind my SIL’s back was complaining to people). She questioned how my SIL’s pastor was more of a father to her than my FIL. My SIL’s pastors (a couple) are both very supportive to my SIL and treat my SIL like their daughter. My SIL works for their ministry and it’s like a close knit family. On the other hand my MIL and FIL haven’t always been supportive of my SIL. My FIL actually think it’s his job as a parent to meddle in his sons and DILs lives (he will suggest my husband and his brother do things that he knows will upset their wives). In subsequent years my SIL has included our FIL on her Father’s Day post. Her Mother’s Day post was one of the few I saw and it included her mom, her other pastor and our MIL.

        I don’t post anything for Mother’s Day and I have no intention of ever posting anything about my MIL, even if we had a good relationship, because of my own issues with the day. I do post on Father’s Day. I usually find a picture of my dad and me and my siblings from when we were kids and share a memory. My MIL has never said anything to me about not including my FIL (that said, she didn’t tell my SIL to her face either).

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      I saw three posts [nearly] in a row that started the exact same way: “To the strongest woman I know!” Not saying it’s not sincere or genuine; I’m sure it is and I certainly feel that way about my mom. But it’s almost like how wedding photographers joke about taking a discreet shot every time a wedding toast begins with, “For those of you who don’t know me…”

      But yeah, I celebrated with my mom yesterday and we’re extremely, extremely close but Facebook declarations is sooooo not our thing. Yet it definitely does feel like you don’t love your mom “enough” if you don’t do it, cliches and all.

    • Sara

      My mom will be bummed if I don’t do an instagram post or something but mine is usually just “Happy Mother’s Day Ma” with a picture of us. People that do the really effusive ones always make me anxious.

    • Ashlah

      Yeah, I have complicated feelings about those posts. And I freely admit to scrolling past most of them without reading (especially now that most of the posts in my feed are people I don’t even know, wtf Facebook). That said, my mom is super into Facebook, so I know she really likes it…but I can’t bring myself to do it every year. I did a really effusive one last year because she was having a really tough time in life and I thought it’d make her happy. This year, I just posted a photo of us at brunch without a real caption. Of course, then I felt like I’d missed the bar I set last year! It’s dumb and life would probably be better without it, but here we are. I stopped wishing people Happy Birthday on Facebook a few years ago, which has been great, so maybe I should do the same with all holidays!

      • Ilora

        I also refuse to participate in the bizarre popularity contest that is “who can post the best happy birthday to their friends wall”. If we’re close enough​ for me to wish them a happy birthday I send it in a private message. We usually end up having an actual conversation.

    • Kate

      Last year I did the big FB post, with seven cheeky haikus I wrote in my mama’s honor. Our family was at the tail end of a very severe health crisis for my teen sister during which my mother took leave from work and was devoted to my sister’s care around the clock. I didn’t reference her superhuman sacrifices directly in the FB post, so I’m sure to some people it came off as a bit much. So if you see something that seems over the top, there may be a very good reason. Or they just forgot to send a card in time (me, all the time).

    • Gaby

      Yeah, I avoid the big performative posts because my mom is anti-technology and finds them ridiculous. I used to do at least a picture of her or of us together, but I’ve started leaving those for other days throughout the year. I see more and more how much this day can be hard for people, including my husband, so I don’t see the need to add to the sea of posts on social media. I always take her out to dinner and find something else to do together on the week of Mother’s Day, but I don’t do cards and flowers every year because my cards get repetitive.

    • Rebekah

      My mom isn’t on social media, so I don’t see the purpose in calling her out on there, aside from bragging to my contacts that I have a mom and I love her, but I will admit to scrolling through my IG feed last night and just being so happy to see so many friends who love their mamas. It was uplifting.

      *And if you ARE one of those demonstrative people, good for you! I bet your mom LOVES your posts, and I’m happy you have a positive relationship with her. You do you.

  • Amy March

    I really want people to not wish me happy mothers’ day. I am not a mother. I’m just a woman of child bearing age. I don’t need my grocery store cashier to give me a carnation, I don’t need the gas station guy to give me his best wishes. I don’t have any issues with Mother’s Day but please stop assuming I am a mom world!

    • savannnah

      I gave a straight death stare to the waiter who wished me a happy mothers day and then asked if I was a mom after I looked at him weird- I’m not sure why I had that reaction as I also don’t have any big issue with mothers day beyond the pushed normativity of traditional family relationships. No one has ever assumed I was a mom before and that might have been why I was like– what is going on here.

    • penguin

      I’ve also noticed a weird trend where people are wishing a happy mother’s day to all women, even if they know they aren’t mothers. Like, yeah I’m a woman, but why are you wishing me a happy mother’s day?

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        My neighbor was all about wishing everyone HMD yesterday, including me, despite my utter lack of children. But he’s 4, so I’ll allow it.

        • Lisa

          Yeah, a three year old once approached me and my sisters at church to wish us HMD when we were in our early 20’s/late teens. It was clearly the phrase of the week since she said it to every woman she could find!

    • Ashlah

      Whoa, I didn’t know this was a thing! I would never wish someone a Happy Mother’s Day if I didn’t know with absolute certainty she was a mother! How strange and inappropriate.

    • Sara

      I try not to wish anyone Happy Mother’s Day unless I see them with an actual child.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Still not safe!
        My sister is seven years younger. No biggie, right? Wrong! We look exactly alike, except that she looks exceptionally young for her age, while I don’t look young for my age at all. As a result, we can’t go anywhere together without being mistaken for mother and daughter! There are truly no words for how awkward it gets to be!

    • LikelyLaura

      I used to hate that, too. Though my child-free aunt gets offended if we don’t give her something on Mother’s Day. So, go figure.

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        Is it because she has a “it takes a village” kind of mentality or something? That’s a little odd, I must admit, especially if she’s child-free insofar as she actively does not want children.

        • LikelyLaura

          I honestly think she just doesn’t like feeling left out, plus being an easily irritated/offended and high-maintenance person in general. We used to get her cards “from” her pets, but now you can find aunt-themed cards pretty easily. It makes her happy and costs us very little, so we do it.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Kind of you!

      • Amy March

        I feel like that’s someone who just wants a reason to be offended.

        • LikelyLaura

          Yup.

      • savannnah

        Ah. I feel like my mothers day experience is less stressful than some because since the macaroni paper mache days, my family does not do presents for mother or fathers day (or birthdays..we are weird) I can imagine that being difficult.

        • Vanessa

          You are not alone! I told my mom last week that fiance’s family does gifts for mother’s/father’s day, birthdays, Christmas – including cards – and she said “that sounds like so much pressure.”

          • CMT

            I’m also from a mostly gift-less family, which I think is about 80% great and 20% of the time I do kind of wish for a gift somebody has put some thought into.

          • Vanessa

            I make it a point to buy myself a really excellent birthday and Christmas gift. It feels life-affirming and powerful to put time, thought, money, and effort into myself.

          • nutbrownrose

            I’m with your mom! I wish my family didn’t do gifts (except I kind of like giving gifts?) because I used to have to spend my birthday money on xmas gifts and my xmas money on birthday gifts. Which kind of defeats the purpose, right?

        • Yeah, we get together for a breakfast at my grandparent’s usually for Mother’s Day if you are around (but we get together with them a minimum of once a month when we lived in the area, so it wasn’t anything super out of the ordinary) and now that I live far away I call my mom on Mother’s Day (although Sunday is the day I call my parents already) but don’t really do much otherwise.

        • Mer

          My family, too. Basically, you get a phone call. And if someone is out of the country (which is true about 70% of the time) even a text or email will suffice. We’re just not big present or holiday people.

          Christmas is the only time we buy each other presents and even then, it’s 1 gift. Though in recent years, we’ve even started vetoing that and opted instead for a shared experience.

      • NotMotherTheresa

        I’m actually sort of Team Aunt here.
        I want to be a mother, but I’m not at a place in life where making that happen would be a responsible decision. My biological clock is ticking, and there’s a fair chance I’ll never get to be a mother. Being included on Mother’s Day actually feels kind of good…I’m obviously not going to go so far as to get offended if nobody gets me a Mother’s Day gift, but I actually really do appreciate being included in Mother’s Day gifts and well wishes! Being left out of all of that just serves as yet another reminder to me of the club I didn’t get to join!

        • LikelyLaura

          I can get that. And it’s an easy thing to do to show that we love her, so we do. 😊

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      What the F? That’s bananas.

    • Vanessa

      Frankly, I feel the same way about wishing other people happy mother’s day as I do about telling people who are not your partner happy anniversary: if you are my mom, then I tell you happy mother’s day. That’s it.

      • elysiarenee

        YESSSSSS

    • lamarsh

      UGH, my fiance’s mom wishes happy mother’s day to every female she sees on the day in question and we have repeatedly asked her to stop and she just tells us that “she can just tell” when someone is a mom. Thankfully, we were out of town yesterday and missed spending Mother’s Day with her so I didn’t feel the need to apologize for her behavior to everyone we encountered.

      • Ashlah

        Oh man, I do not get that at all. And when people don’t correct her, because it’s awkward and uncomfortable, she’ll just go on believing her intuition was right. Reminds me of my mom thinking she’d be able to “just tell” when I lost my virginity, haha. (Spoiler alert: She couldn’t.)

        • penguin

          Oh noooooo that’s such a weird thing to think that you can “just tell”.

      • Lisa

        I can’t imagine how hurtful that must be for women to whom she wishes a happy mother’s day who are struggling with infertility, have lost their children, or are waiting to be matched with a child through the foster care system/adoption.

        • lamarsh

          Yep! Couldn’t agree more. However, she is not a self-reflective person, so that line of reasoning would probably not sway her.

        • ruth

          As someone currently struggling with infertility, THIS! I recently witnessed someone wishing happy mother’s day to a friend of mine who I personally know has had many, many miscarriages – I wanted to punch this person in the face on my friend’s behalf. People can be so unconscious and oblivious to other realities outside their own

          • Cathi

            I have a living child now, and I’ll start with the caveat that everyone is different and I know for a fact other people who’ve had losses feel exactly the opposite that I do.

            But for me, nothing hurt more than people a) obliviously wishing me a “happy Mother’s Day” and especially b) insisting that I was “still a mother” because I had carried children, for however long. There’s a whole host of reasons I found b) to be a highly-charged sentiment (abortion issues, adoptions issues, etc…), but mostly it was because it ran directly counter to how I actually felt. I *wasn’t* a mother. That’s the whole depth of the pain I felt from my losses, you know? I very much wanted to be a mother, but biology kept telling me “nope”.

            It was especially hard because I was actively pregnant during these past Mother’s Days and wholly terrified of what was going to happen to those pregnancies.

            Feh.

      • Transnonymous

        This is so frustrating for so many reasons. What if you have a strained relationship with your mother? What if you’ve lost a child or are struggling with infertility? What if you’re read as female, but don’t identify that way? Sorry that you have to deal with this.

    • emmers

      I also hate it when people ask if I have kids. Random grocery store people on mom’s day, or coworkers on regular days. Do not ask that, random people! If I want to tell you something about that, I will!

      • penguin

        Ugh, seriously. That falls squarely in the None Of Your Business category.

      • Jennifer

        That’s a really normal question to ask coworkers though! I feel like it’s one of the first questions to come up, even among predominantly childless groups.

    • Mrrpaderp

      A male cashier at the grocery store wished me a happy mothers day. I do not have children and did not have children with me. I replied brightly, “Thanks! Happy mothers day to you too!” He looked confused.

      • idkmybffjill

        love this!

      • rg223

        Yep, I did this to my male neighbor as well. Whatever!

      • Laura C

        I did that once completely without thinking, just an automatic return of the thing someone was saying to me, and when he acted surprised I just said “hey, I don’t know your life.”

    • Eenie

      Also, stop asking other people about their mother’s day! So many people have strained relationship with their parents or even parents who have passed away.

    • Meg Keene

      It can be somewhat cultural. Whenever I’ve lived in neighborhoods where most women are mothers and most women are mothers really young, people have always wished me Happy Mother’s Day, but clearly out of respect. When I was 22 I’d be like “Oh, I’m not a mom but thank you” because it was always some sweet 18 year old kid. BUT. The grocery store clerk giving all women a carnation REALLY feels over the top.

    • Rebekah

      Ok, but I wish random women cashiers Happy Mother’s Day because they had/have a mom even if they aren’t mothers, and I just feel like if they ARE moms they’ll appreciate the sentiment and if they aren’t they know I meant well. It’s like saying Merry Christmas even though they may not celebrate it. I mean no harm, only joy.

      • savannnah

        Wishing someone Merry Christmas when they don’t celebrate it can be just as isolating as the example Amy March gave. Its just pushing a normative assumption on someone else for personal benefit. I know that sounds harsh coming from a place of joy but assuming everyone means well isn’t how many people experience the world.

      • Ashlah

        Wishing someone a Happy Mother’s Day because they have a mom seems like a stretch? Plus, no, not everyone has a mom.

      • Amy March

        Except wishing everyone Merry Christmas is also not great. You may not mean harm, but you may well be doing it. It hurts to want to be a mom, and not be, and then spend a day having strangers assume you are. Have a good day is an option, no?

      • Laura C

        If it’s because they had/have a mom, do you say the same to random men cashiers?

        • laddibugg

          I was in a store on Sunday, and one of the cashiers wished a happy mother’s day to everyone (well at least everyone in line before me) male or female. Still odd, because you don’t know people’s relationships with their mothers, but she wasn’t assuming all women were mothers.

    • Cathi

      I used to work for a winery that gives out complimentary glasses of champagne to mom’s on Mother’s Day. Except it’s impossible to know just by looking at someone if they’re a mom, so they just erred on the side of giving all women of drinking age a complimentary glass.

      It made me uneasy but at least there was free booze in it to console the people bothered by the sentiment?

    • Totch

      The only time this worked out: one father’s day we were getting pizza and when our server brought the bill he also brought us a jar of their seasoning salt and said “happy father’s day!” to my now-husband. We were like 22 and that was a genuinely​ appealing freebie, but after a quick look at each other husband went “oh, thanks, but I’m not a dad.” The server laughed at him, and said he kind of figured but it was the end of the night and they had a lot left.

      It was quite good! If that was always the caliber of freebie, I’d be more likely to put up with this shit.

      • Jessica

        I thought about going to a restaurant that was serving free mimosas to moms with the ole “These are my fur babies!” photo spread.

        Luckily their mimosas aren’t that good and I’m not that terrible of a person!

    • TeaforTwo

      The public mother’s day-ing is so weird and fraught. I want my partner to wish me a happy mother’s day, and when my kid can speak I want him to do it too. I don’t need a carnation, either, though, so let’s all just err on the side of leaving women in public alone.

  • Emma

    My mom passed away two years ago, so Mother’s Day is extremely difficult for me. I try to stay off of social media, but it definitely is an extra hard day (/weekend/week/month) for me. This weekend was even more difficult because my in-laws planned a trip (coincidentally this weekend, we didn’t realize the date when they were booking) and I have a bit of a strained relationship with my MIL.

    Sending lots of good vibes to everyone else who has a difficult time on Mother’s Day!

    • G.

      I feel the same way about Father’s Day — constant barrage of reminders that my dad is no longer here. I know that’s not the intention, but it’s a strong byproduct and it’s hard to manage emotionally, especially since the last family picture we have is from Father’s Day a few years ago.

    • theteenygirl

      My mum cancelled Mother’s Day last year because her mother had passed away a few months before. Even this year we did not make a big deal – I called her and wished her a happy mother’s day but then we just had a normal chat. When I told a few people that was my ‘plan’ they were SHOCKED that that was ALL I was doing. But to my mum, Mother’s Day is a day that she is forced to remember that her mum is no longer here. The best way I can support her is to downplay the day.

      Hugs to you

  • penguin

    I ended up spending most of the day alone and binge watching the first season of Downton Abbey. My fiancé went to go have breakfast with his mom, and I just signed her card ahead of time. I didn’t want to go, and fiancé said that was OK. Breakfast somehow stretched into all of the morning and most of the afternoon, and I just spent the day being sad mostly. I felt a little better after calling my grandma (who I’m close to) and one of my aunts, who has always been awesome and supportive and doesn’t have kids of her own. I think this is the first or second year ever that I didn’t make myself call my mom, and I’m glad I didn’t call.

    • Jess

      Congrats on not calling your mom! and also on determining not to go to FMIL brunch. And also on calling your grandma, because that’s a wonderful relationship to have.

      • penguin

        Thank you! I’m glad to have APW as a place to talk through things like this in a semi-anonymous way.

        • Jess

          agreed. It’s tough to tell your new-parent friends, or the ones posting gushing FB posts, or the ones always looking to help solve a problem, “Oh, Mother’s Day. Yeah… I don’t really get along with my mom”

          • penguin

            Haha yep. Also awkward to make a Facebook post being like “actually my mom is terrible” when I’m Facebook friends with a bunch of my family… including my mom.

          • Lisa

            One of my friends posted an article from, I think, Jezebel about breaking up with a toxic mother and wrote about her own struggles with her mother-daughter relationship. She got a lot of support from friends and thanks from people in similar situations who couldn’t bring themselves to post so openly. I really appreciated seeing that amidst all of the “I love my mom!” posts because it shed some light on something that’s not typically discussed.

    • emmers

      I’m glad you were able to not call your mom. And I’m glad you called your grandma and aunt. You may have already found this post, and I hope it’s not upsetting, but your comment reminded me of it: https://apracticalwedding.com/family-conflict-during-holidays/

      • penguin

        Thank you for this! I was actually thinking of this post today (the part about looking for the right card with some vague platitude) and couldn’t think what article it was in. Not upsetting at all, and thanks again.

  • Sara

    My mother expects a lot from Mother’s Day (and birthday’s). She tries not to. I can see the effort she puts into trying to temper her own expectations. But she really loves being doted on and having things planned for her. We (my brothers, dad and me) do our best to step up to those expectations but its always slightly short. Yesterday we all spent the day together, which was lovely and I think it helped that we were all able to be there.

    That being said, our relationship is leaps and bounds better than when I was a child. My brothers and I joke my mom likes babies and adults, not the in-between ages. She’s never cruel or neglectful, its just a lot of expectations again and short tempers. Now, we can all go home and cool off, but slamming doors were no one’s friends in the teen years.

  • LikelyLaura

    I’m a Mother’s Day grinch. Not because I have bad relationships with any of the mothers in my life, but because you can never, ever make all of them happy on the same day. And Mother’s Day is sold as the day you do whatever it takes to make them all happy. (Most of) these women aren’t normally unreasonable people, but on Mother’s Day, all hell breaks loose.

    This is my first Mother’s Day, and so far I think I’d rather my husband (baby is too little) just tell me he appreciates me on a regular basis than attempt to make me breakfast in bed once a year. But I know how annoying it is when people rag on Valentine’s Day when I’m excited about celebrating it, so I’m trying REALLY hard to keep my opinions to myself. (Except when asked, as here!)

    • stephanie

      I agree with you!! I was talking to my husband about this yesterday—like, the dudes I live with (husband + son) are really amazing about like.. appreciating me all the time. I like the idea of Mother’s Day, do not love the over the top commercialization of it, and am always quite happy with a card or something handmade (ex: this year my kid made me a bracelet out of magazine pictures), and just having a nice day. FWIW, I also feel the same way about Valentine’s Day, and generally like to keep it low key.

  • Vanessa

    Ugh, I don’t like Mother’s (or Father’s!) Day. As a kid we would make a card at school, give it to mom, and then the thing she most wanted was to spend the day off on her own, shopping or going to a museum or visiting friends or who knows what. Yesterday I called my mom; my mother’s day gift was to just listen to her talk for 30 minutes without calling her on any of her shit.

  • Ashlah

    Does anyone else struggle with providing “equal” Mother’s Days for your mother and mother-in-law? I will preface this by saying I am fortunate to have a good relationship with my mother, so Mother’s Day isn’t emotionally fraught in that way, and I recognize and appreciate that. However, both of our moms live locally, and it’s become our tradition to take them out to a shared brunch. We each buy them flowers and a card. Sometimes I feel like I should/want to do more for my mom. It feels like the bare minimum, or like we’re ticking off cliched items from a list. But my husband is a little less close to his mom, has a few more reservations about his childhood, and is generally less sentimental than I am. I know if I want to do something more special for my mom (e.g. a special gift, a mother-daughter dinner), I should just do it (and tell her not to post about it on Facebook), but it still feels weird. It makes me feel guilty in a weird way, even though I know it shouldn’t. I think the main issue is that it would make my husband feel guilty, but of course that’s his problem. Just curious if anyone else has dealt with these feelings.

    And next year we get to figure out whether it becomes My Day or still their day or a combination of both. That feels like it’s going to be a complex transition. MIL is already commenting about how excited she is that our baby will be at the next Mother’s Day brunch, while I’m not sure yet whether that’s how I’ll want to spend my first real Mother’s Day.

    • CII

      This is a completely normal way to feel.

      I think it sounds like next year would be a very opportune time to split up this awkward joint brunch situation, given that you should be able to have your own celebration (if that’s what you want). Maybe do brunch with MIL and dinner with you and your mom on Saturday, so that Sunday can be a day for your family..

      I feel this way, but reversed. Spending time with my mother is practically difficult and emotionally fraught for me. Spending time with my MIL is neutral for me, and husband loves family time, so we often spend more time with them on Mother’s Day and have a quick visit with my family (they all live in the same town, an hour away from us). We downplay (or sometimes even fib a bit) about the amount of time spent at MIL’s house to avoid hurt feelings (because my mom definitely views all holiday time as a competition).

      • Amy March

        I feel like the first year you are a mother is a great time to say you know what? I’m now being honored today, I am not running around to three brunches, and you get a card and flowers.

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      I feel you on your last paragraph! My MIL put in an ever-so-slight insinuation that mother’s day is about the oldest mother in the room. She basically said that she prepares brunch every year in honor of her (deceased) mother because that’s where the priority should be even though people tell her to relax since it’s her day too. So basically, while it’s important that she’s also a mom, it’s not as important as celebrating HER mom.

      There’s some cultural stuff there regarding individualist vs collectivist culture, but it’s definitely getting catalogued as part of the possibly tricky transition once the actual baby is here.

      • Ashlah

        Oh yeah, that sounds like it might be rough to navigate, since her philosophy on it is already pretty set. I haven’t really figured out how I feel about it. I don’t intend to stop celebrating my own mom altogether, but I also want a special day, ya know? We’ll see how it shakes out next year.

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          It helps that my MIL is incredibly big-hearted and kind, and so I’m more willing to navigate it than if she was manipulative or entitled about it. But my need for space and the overall prioritization of my nuclear family could hurt her if I’m not careful, but also frustrate me if I give too much.

          Compromise is key and I imagine the best ways to do that become clearer through the first years of parenthood! (And maybe even beyond)

    • BSM

      I’m not sure if how my husband and I do it is typical, but basically he handles the day/gift for his mom, and I handle mine. He and his mom traditionally go to the Farmer’s Market together on Mother’s Day, and sometime I join because we’re local, but it seems to make things easier to keep the coordinating separate. We don’t even sign each other’s cards lol!

      And yeahhhh to your last paragraph. Not sure at all what we’ll do next year. I don’t think my MIL would be too upset if we wanted to do something on our own, but I feel like my husband and I might feel a little guilty, especially since my SIL kinda sucks at celebrating other people.

      • Ashlah

        I think it’s tough having already set the tradition/expectation of doing joint celebrations. Plus, I think we both feel like we want to/should celebrate each other’s moms? I have a hard time picturing each of us doing something alone with our moms, even if it might be easier in some ways. If we were to separate it at all, I think it’d end up being breakfast with his mom, which we both attend, and dinner with my mom, which we both attend. Which eats up a lot of time and energy! And money! The more I think about it, the more I think I need to just start offering to take my mom out separately as an additional celebration, if it’s something I decide is important to me.

    • Her Lindsayship

      We just spent the weekend with fiancé’s family and I had completely forgotten about Mother’s Day. I felt a little guilty when her other kids were giving her little gifts for the holiday and making instagram posts about her, but my fiancé didn’t seem to feel weird about it and has probably never done any Mother’s Day stuff for her. It sounds similar to your situation, except she’s his step-mom, and while he has always liked and respected her, she’s never filled the role of mother for him. I don’t think she felt weird about it, but it is just a very different dynamic than my family, which makes it interesting to navigate. Now that we’re joining each other’s families, it does feel odd to have unequal standing between my family and his. I don’t want to dampen or downplay the close bond I have with my family just to make things more equal, but I also don’t want to force something with his family that’s not there. Thankfully for us this will be easier because we don’t live near either family. But yeah, I can see how it would be occasionally awkward if we did!

    • Violet

      We don’t try to do equal. We both go home (the town where both our mothers live, more-or-less) that weekend, but go our separate ways to do things with just our own mothers. I might get my MIL a card, but then, I might not. Depends on the year. I always give her a birthday card, Christmas card. She’s not my mother, so I don’t feel like Mothers’ Day is a particularly relevant holiday between the two of us….

    • Arie

      This is going to sound kind of harsh, but my mom gets better presents on every holiday because I’m the one doing the emotional labor of remembering/planning gifts and the actual labor of purchasing and sending them, and I love my mom more. If dude wants to change that and make sure his mom is getting something awesome, he can jump in on it any time.

    • We live 2000 miles away from my parents, so we usually do a Mother’s Day with my in-laws if we do something. I don’t plan it though, because it’s not my mom, so sometimes things happen… often we will just go to church at my in-laws instead of our normal (closer) church since it makes my mother-in-law really happy when her sons are all at church together.

  • K. is skittish about disqus

    This was a strange Mother’s Day because I’m 31ish weeks pregnant (read: visibly and fairly heavily) and boy, do people have OPINIONS about whether it’s “mine” yet.

    My in-laws actually argued with each other while on the phone with me about whether or not I get to partake in the celebrations (MIL was very pro, FIL was very against). My husband spoiled me way more than I expected by making me a huge brunch spread of everything I’ve been craving, arranging a peony bouquet, and getting me two prenatal massages from “L.” (the baby). My parents wished me a happy mother’s day, but it was clearly more my mom’s day. And my texts ranged from “Happy Mother’s Day, mama!” to “You’re not a mommy yet, but you will be soon!”

    And I hadn’t even really thought about my perspective on it all! So it was a strange thing to navigate, while being both pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of love and weirded out by people who felt like they had to make a point about me not being part of the club yet.

    Ultimately, what I came down to was that while I absolutely feel like a mother, I am not a parent yet…and that distinction changes how you approach the day and celebration. So it felt good to be celebrated and I feel like the fact that I’ve completely changed my lifestyle and my body, plus the hours I’ve spent worrying about the little girl growing and kicking inside me qualifies me in a very basic way, it still wasn’t quite the same as next year when I’ll have a 10 month old.

    • Vanessa

      That is bizarre and frustrating. I can’t even begin to imagine what goes through peoples’ minds.

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        In the case of my FIL, he is a particularly opinionated man. We’ve clashed in that regard in the past because he’d rather be right than kind most of the time. He’s a good man with a gruff academic exterior, but especially as he gets older, he doesn’t really know when to just think his opinions rather than loudly state them as the gospel truth. So it wasn’t surprising to hear him saying, “No, no, no, that’s ridiculous! Not until next year! You have to earn it!” even though it stung.

        Overall, it should probably be something where you say Happy Mother’s Day without caveats or nothing at all (there was nothing weird about people saying nothing at all!)

        • Lisa

          “No, no, no, that’s ridiculous! Not until next year! You have to earn it!”

          I’d love to know what he thinks “earns” the title of Mother’s Day. Is it the sole act of giving birth? Or must one parent the child for a duration of time? How much time is enough? (A week? A month? A year?) Say that parenting is an essential portion of the equation. Has a woman who gives birth on Mother’s Day or slightly before get to claim the holiday even though she has done minimal parenting up to that point?

          The important questions that run through my mind, clearly. If someone wants to claim the holiday as her own, she’s not hurting him. In fact, her relations are probably contributing even more to the economy by purchasing the accouterments that surround it.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Oh, he’d looooove the opportunity to answer those questions for you, with full authority.

            But yeah, he tends to be insensitive. I’m actually pretty thick-skinned and I can take it in the moment even if I stew about it a bit later, but I do worry about him saying things like this to family members who have suffered from miscarriage or anything along those lines. Saying that you have to give birth to a live child in order to be a mother is deeply offensive to a lot of women I know.

          • Lisa

            Even if he can answer the questions, my favorite part is the discrepancy this then places with Father’s Day. What is the male equivalent of giving birth?

          • idkmybffjill

            Well and… do women who adopted not get to celebrate? Rude.

          • Grace

            This is what I would like to know too.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Specifically, I think he regularly forgets that Father’s Day is a thing. He’s genuinely confused every year when we call him for it.

            But more generally, I agree that this is often part of the crux of the issue for men who have opinions like this.

          • Ilora

            I wonder if this is somewhat related to the whole “fathers don’t feel like fathers until baby is born” thing. Parenting is different than pregnancy but pregnancy is no walk in the park, nor is miscarriage!

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Yeah, and my MIL has mentioned that my husband is basically Super Pre-Dad compared to my FIL, who barely acknowledged her pregnancies. He was an incredibly involved father though, so you may be onto something.

        • Ilora

          While I actually got pregnant just after mother’s day last year my feelings re: mother vs parent are about the same as yours. We got our positive test a week before Father’s day so I made a little card saying how excited I was to become parents together and gave my husband some chocolates. That was it. And if I had been pregnant before Mother’s Day I wouldn’t have expected anything.

          However, I had awful morning sickness and was on prescription meds for months because of it. If anyone had said I hadn’t “earned” even just a little piece of acknowledgement I’d have been very upset…and possibly puked on them ;)

          Every one experiences pregnancy differently obviously, but it’s definitely a trip…I’ve currently got a 3 month old who’s not sleeping through the night… Yeah I’m tired now but 1st trimester exhaustion was worse.

          So no, a pregnant woman may not be a parent yet but I totally support a simple “Happy Mother’s Day, you’re going to be a great mom” type of thing.

    • BSM

      Yeah, this in-between (and everyone’s opinions about it) is interesting, to say the least.

      I didn’t need or want the day to be about me, but I would have been disappointed to not get some recognition from my husband. Short brag: he did a perfect job by writing a heartfelt card about how happy he is to be on the journey to becoming a human co-parent with me and getting me a little gift I’d been eyeing. And then he also went out to get iced lattes and pastries, and I got some time alone while he hung out with his mom – all in all, a great Sunday!

      I’ve actually been thinking a decent amount about who “deserves” to be celebrated on Mother’s Day, as a result of being pregnant myself and also reading stories like Lindsay’s on the food blog Pinch of Yum (TW for loss). My thinking is that (much like everything), while you can’t expect everyone in your life to honor your how you want all the time, everyone can kind of decide for themselves.

  • rg223

    I mean, taking a bigger picture view: I posted a FB rant this morning pointing out that Trump’s health care plan would gut Medicaid, most likely causing more maternal deaths, all while the US maternal mortality rate is increasing anyway (plus the article that appeared in the comments (I think) from Happy Hour last week), and pointing out the overall hypocrisy of Mother’s Day in relation to this…

    So yeah. Some feelings over here about this too!

    • emmers

      Ha! My husband often says that liking women means he can’t be a repub.

  • Arie

    As a childless 30-something with pets who I adore (ADORE), what I would like to say to the rest of my demographic is: your pet is not a child. It’s okay! Your dog is adorable, I would plant kisses all over his face and hang out with him instead of people at a party, but I get depressed watching all these people in my facebook feed celebrate mother’s day because they have pets. It makes me feel weirdly guilty because I don’t see my animals as my children. They are 100% part of my family, no doubt, and I spent an awful lot of money on them. But, you know, I can put my dog in a crate and leave for 5 hours, too. It’s just weird to me.

    • G.

      I refer to myself as my dog’s human, not his mother (which I am certainly not, lacking in many canine attributes, good and bad). I love him, but no mother’s day for me.

      • G

        That said, I do bristle when people tell me I have no responsibilities because I don’t have kids (bad argument on many levels) and one response is, “I keep my dog alive, and yes, I can leave him unattended for hours, but he does structure my life.” So I think the idea of being a “mom” of a pet is weird, but I also kind of get where it comes from.

        • Amy March

          I bristle at that and I don’t even have plants. I got responsibilities to myself and my community even though I’m single!

          • G.

            Oh yeah, single + no kids often seems to register to others as “no responsibilities and no nurturing” when neither is true AT ALL. It’s true that I sorely lack a green thumb and plants die in my house, but I nurture many people and creatures and have many responsibilities (some of which I’d love to share with someone else, but alas, all on me…) People have responsibilities, end of story.

          • idkmybffjill

            I just don’t like the one upmanship of it. I have a friend who has some rando on her facebook that basically replies to everything with, “Just wait til you have kids.”… Granted this friend complains on social media alot but like…..people without kids also get tired or busy. It also just comes off like having kids sucks which I think is super weird when parents imply.

          • anon for ranting

            Oh my god, I am so sick of hearing, “you’ll understand when you have kids.” First, wtf do you think you can say “when” instead of “if”. I very much want kids, but it’s not in my control at the moment. Second, how can you not realize how hurtful that is to say to someone a few months after they had a miscarriage?

          • idkmybffjill

            Oh man I hadn’t even thought about it from that angle. Double messed up!

        • Arie

          Yep. My old boss told me once that I wasn’t very nurturing and I went right to “I HAVE PETS THAT ARE ALIVE AND HAPPY.” I just wish I could nurture without being seen as mothering, if that makes sense.

          • idkmybffjill

            What an inappropriate thing for a boss to say! I’m an assistant so very fussy about the idea that it’s my job to nurture at work. I def have to play therapist sometimes but I prefer “thought partner” to “work wife” cause ew! No. I’m doing my job, not nurturing you because I love you.

          • Arie

            Ha, yeah. It would have been more accurate if she’d said, “you’re making life choices different from my own, I don’t understand you, and it makes me so uncomfortable that I need to yell at you sometimes!” Which, actually, isn’t much better.

          • idkmybffjill

            lol, nope! Man, sometimes people don’t know what relationships are supposed to be at work (meaning your boss, not you!).

    • emmers

      Meh, I had a miscarriage and if I took the day too literally I’d be upset about it, but I can very much relate to feeling like a pet is a substitute kid, for whatever reason. I used to look down on the people posting about pets, because I get it, pets are not the same as human kids. But I don’t any more, because you never know– that kind of stuff may be a way for some people to try to participate in a holiday that they’re otherwise excluded from. There may be a backstory. Or there may not! But I guess I’m feeling a little kinder about that stuff now.

      • Arie

        Yes, totally get that – in re-reading I definitely left out the empathy I actually feel. I know people have to get through the day however they can, so I’m not trying to look down my nose at people. It just makes me feel weird to see it, I guess.

        • emmers

          I mean, I would never publicly post about pets-as-kids, and in the past I’ve been more judgy! But my experience this year has softened me a little, since my husband and I were basically like, fuck it, they’re our kids.

    • Ashlah

      My husband and I refer to each other as Ma and Pa in relation to our cats, and I would find it funny if he gave me a Mother’s Day card from them, but it’s a sentiment that doesn’t leave our home. It’s silly and fun for us, but not something we take seriously or share with other people. It feels like more of an inside joke.

      • Vanessa

        Same! I also sometimes call my cat hairy baby, not because I think she is an actual baby but because of Big Hero 6 :D

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCNntjkLoNI

        • Kat

          My cat has many, many nicknames, but Hairy Baby is the top of the list.

      • Eve

        I actually did get cards and roses this year from the cat and the horse. And it was just that– hilarious, and most definitely private.

      • Eenie

        We’re mama and papa, and ditto on it not leaving our house.

      • theteenygirl

        I own a parrot and he acts so much like a toddler that people who don’t know me well think I have a two year old. I call myself his mama bird :) We refer to ourselves as mom and dad occasionally. But I don’t think I ever have outside of the house..

        And yes, on his first-person Instagram account he made a Mother’s Day post.

    • CMT

      My problem with wishing people a happy “pet” Mother’s Day is that it really drives home the point that if you’re a woman, you should be a mother to somebody or something. I *would* appreciate a little recognition and gratefulness from my cat for all I do for her. If there were a gender-neutral pet caretaker holiday, I’d buy Hallmark cards for it.

      • Vanessa

        “I *would* appreciate a little recognition and gratefulness from my cat for all I do for her.”

        As a fellow cat owner, this made me laugh so hard :)

        • CMT

          Somebody’s gotta bring home the Meow Mix and let me tell you, it is not that lazy jerk (who I love more than anything in the entire world and would do anything for).

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      • Ashlah

        How has Hallmark not jumped on this??

      • Arie

        yes, totally! thank you for expressing the sentiment better – in terms of my relationships with my pets and the world on mother’s day, I feel like – I’ve chosen not to be a mother, and I don’t want it forced on me.

      • G.

        My mom sends me Valentine’s and birthday cards from my dog, which I think is cute. He does love me, though he doesn’t care about my birthday unless it provides him with extra treats. So not quite recognition from him, but a little recognition nonetheless.

        • CMT

          Awww, that’s super cute!

    • K. is skittish about disqus

      We’re trying to transition from calling ourselves mom and dad to our dogs, and it’s harder than I thought! On the one hand, they’re not our children and our daughter will be. And even just through pregnancy, the stakes around our daughter’s welfare and happiness are so much greater that we do feel like there’s a fundamental shift that we have to recognize.

      But on the other? They’re our boys and we love them. We’ve structured our lives around them, brought them to the emergency vet at 3am, debated what kind of food to feed them, spent full weekend days just snuggling them because we felt like it, etc., etc., etc. They are our first dependents and they signified big parts of our relationship together and were monumental in growing how we function as adults.

      So even though we know they have no concept of us being “mom and dad,” there’s a bittersweetness to moving to our names that I didn’t really expect. So in a lot of ways, I do get it when childless or childfree people feel that kind of connection with their pets, even if when push comes to shove, I do think there’s a huge difference.

      • Sarah

        we are mom and dad to our cats and our son and it’s fine.

        • K. is skittish about disqus

          That’s cool! Just doesn’t work for us. :)

      • orienteeringirl

        We adore our friend’s dog that we watched for over a week (and hope to watch again) while they were away on vacation. We can’t wait to be pet parents at some point, so the urge to call ourselves mom and dad to their dog was really strong, but felt really wrong. Using our names also felt weird, so we wound up calling ourselves “lady” and “mister” and it was so fun. I think whenever we adopt our own pets, we’ll continue to use our pet names!

      • We have a dog and a two month old human baby and we’re mom and dad (and variations of that) to both little creatures and it all feels fine to us

    • Meg Keene

      lolz. I have not seen pet owners celebrate Mother’s Day on Facebook, but OMG.

    • Antonia

      We have two dogs (a small terrier mix and a Siberian Husky) and a 15-month-old child. I totally get what you’re saying, and I don’t disagree, but for the record, on the easy-to-difficult scale, it goes: terrier, kid, Husky. When I compare kiddo’s infancy to Husky’s puppyhood, the disparity is even more pronounced — puppy was WAY EFFING HARDER than the baby.

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        Tough puppies are TOUGH. There is literally no way my first dog’s puppyhood will be harder than our upcoming newborn phase. But my second, the little energy-and-anxiety ball who is now on Prozac? It’s definitely in the realm of possibility.

      • Arie

        Ha, I used to have a terrier! I understand exactly what you’re saying. That dog was so smart and sneaky, but I feel like I might still be suspicious if I got a written card from her. No thumbs, ya know?

    • idkmybffjill

      Oh god, I’m so glad we never did this. Now that I’m becoming a human mom I think I’d have been bummed that I sort of robbed myself of the firstness of the experience by pretending my dog celebrated mother’s day.

    • JLily

      Why does it make you depressed? Obviously my dogs are not my human children, but they *are* my babies! I don’t know why that would be upsetting for anyone else, whether they were in my “demographic” or have their own human offspring.

      • Arie

        CMT did a better job of articulating my feelings in a comment below by saying, ” it really drives home the point that if you’re a woman, you should be a mother to somebody or something.”

        Obviously to each their own, but this is an open thread where we kvetch about things, and I’m not a fan of this thing.

        • JLily

          Right, I get that, but you referred to people celebrating mothers’ day because they have pets, not other people foisting the celebrating onto them. I don’t mean to push back on a small thing, it’s just that I think this disagreement that other people can’t be a dog mom or dad also kind of plays into the idea that you aren’t an adult/responsible person/fulfilled as a human if you aren’t a parent. I think claiming your status as a dog mom pushes against that by saying that you are caring and responsible, its just that you are those things to a pet rather than a human (and sometimes theres more to it but sometimes thats the end of the story).

          • Arie

            I think the other comment-conversation that’s helped bring out a crucial element is the public nature of it. I specifically mentioned people putting up facebook posts celebrating their pet motherhood on mother’s day. I certainly am not saying that a person can’t be a pet mom – I am one! Be a pet mom! The intended suggestion was to maybe shush about it in public forums on mothers day, forcing the comparison to parents of human children. Cause it could make the rest of us pet parents feel a little weird and icky. Or don’t, and do you, and that’s cool, but I’m going to hide you in my facebook feed.

            Editing to add, for background, that I saw 3 posts yesterday where people bought themselves gifts and wrote themselves cards “from their petchild,” took pictures of those things, and posted them on facebook.

          • laddibugg

            “Editing to add, for background, that I saw 3 posts yesterday where people bought themselves gifts and wrote themselves cards “from their petchild,” took pictures of those things, and posted them on facebook”

            I don’t think that’s any sillier than getting a card or other ‘gifts’ from a child who can’t even talk.

  • Mary Jo TC

    I had a crappy Mother’s Day yesterday. My 3-year-old had an epic tantrum during church. I took him out, but not quickly enough because we were stuck in the middle of the pew. So bad that 4 people commented on it to me later, one even reaching out on social media. They were mostly supportive, “we’ve all been there” was the basic sentiment, but it almost made it feel even worse because it reinforced just how bad the tantrum was. I’d rather just pretend it didn’t happen. And then my husband made us a nice brunch–and I threw it up. Some 24 hour stomach bug. I’m feeling better now, but I had to nap and skip eating anything at my mother-in-law’s dinner and go to bed early.

    Anne Lamott had a great essay on Mother’s Day and why it stinks. http://www.salon.com/2010/05/08/hate_mothers_day_anne_lamott/

    I really related to what Stephanie says here about her mom’s shortcomings and being part of a large family. I’m one of 7 kids, so there was never enough parental attention to go around. I read in parenting books how all kids need on-on-one with both their parents, and that never happened in our house, at all, ever. We have a good relationship now, but I think one thing that helps that a little is that I have spent more one-on-one time with my mom since I had kids than for years as a kid. She comes to visit and we talk on the phone every week, and my siblings are not there to distract or interrupt.

    • disqus_S7fhm5v1Ob

      I just shared the same essay :) I really agree with the idea that treating mothers as superior beings really hurts the cause. Men can do it too! We are not superior to women without kids!

    • emmers

      Thanks for sharing– that was a great essay! And I’m sorry that your kid’s tantrums are sucking so much. And the stomach bug- blech! I hope you feel better soon, and the tantrums decrease in frequency and strength.

    • Amy March

      How on earth is “hey that tantrum at church hours ago? Just wanted to make sure you knew I noticed and am still thinking about it” something someone decides is a helpful thought to share.

      • Mary Jo TC

        LOL thanks! It was actually a really sweet (and private) message, about how “bringing up kids in the church isn’t easy but worth it, she admires me making the effort to bring my kid and it’s worth the tantrums to have kids share the service, and happy Mothers’ day” But yeah, at the same time reminding me how severe the tantrum was, to make such an impression that she felt the need to reach out.

  • disqus_S7fhm5v1Ob

    My mom actually shared this post about Mother’s Day by Anne Lamott on Facebook and I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and think I agree with a lot of it. https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott/posts/1171058666357108

  • Jess

    Ugh. Mother’s Day: One of the many holidays where it’s up to us to figure out exactly what combination of nuanced things could possibly make my mom happy, and then when something goes wrong (the gift we got wasn’t good enough! the food got slightly burnt!) or regular life intervenes (gardening has to get done in the middle of May! We have a soccer game!) it’s all useless and nobody cares about her and nothing she does is appreciated and it’s all just such a let down.

    Even now, the single phone call is full of disappointment and bitterness.

    I’ll pass, thanks.

  • Sarah

    Last year was my first Mother’s Day so I told my not so effusive husband I wanted a card–also got an azalea he planted for me (which did not survive into this year) and the Beyonce album. This year, told him I don’t need a card and we decided to do a yearly planting (sour cherry tree this year). I think this will be our annual thing. However I think the tree is really only because it’s convenient to replace the two sassafras ones that fell on our house last month. It was a nice day with both our moms together, and siblings, at sister in law’s house. We just get plantings and homemade goodies for the moms. Meant to make a coffee mug or something with the kid’s picture but didn’t get around to it. Our moms don’t do FB, and we barely do, so no pressure there.

  • K.

    I have a really good, really close relationship with my mother, and I’m generally quite happy to send a card/present, call her, and generally try to celebrate it as much as possible long-distance. This year was different, though, because we lost my maternal grandmother a couple of weeks ago. So it’s sad, and hard, and I don’t want to make things harder on Mom. But, on the other hand, I’ve been thinking a lot more in the last few weeks about family, and the connection I feel being the daughter of her daughter, and how much love there has been from the mothers in my life (and I have a great relationship with my mother-in-law, too). So I’ve just been having a lot of big emotions this year. Sometimes I put something up on Facebook (a photo, usually, I don’t really get into long posts and tons of photos for it), but this year it was too complicated to sort out what I might want to do, so I didn’t.

    I’m also really irrationally angry at the radio DJ who started going on on Saturday about how precious mothers are, and how you need to go hug your mom, and completely ruined the first actually good day my mom had had since Grandma went into the hospital.

    I also realized this year that I’m a little bit sad that, once we have kids, Mother’s Day will always be shared in our household (since we’ll both be moms). That seems like it should be fun and a way to celebrate our (future) family, but what I think I actually want is to be the special one for a day. I think that taps into a lot of my larger feelings about co-Mom-ing, so I’m going to keep thinking about that one.

    • Ashlah

      Regarding your final paragraph, maybe you could do a Mother’s Day weekend, and dedicate one day to each of you? I can understand those feelings, especially when the whole message around Mother’s Day seems to be that your partner/children should completely pamper and focus on you.

      • K.

        That’s a good thought, thanks! And it would be good practice for me in asking for things that feel silly but I still want, instead of just hoping that someone else will think of it. Which is something that I really should be working on.

        • penguin

          That’s something I’ve had to work on too – internalizing the whole “My Partner Is Not A Mind Reader” thing. Still working on it.

        • Ilora

          Not the same but my birthday occasionally falls on Mother’s Day and we always just split the day in half. Morning would be Mother’s Day and afternoon would be my birthday.

          This year. My son is only 3 months old so we shared the day by taking my mom’s favourite treats over and playing board games with my family. Next year (when baby is actually sleeping through the night and I’m not too much of a zombie to enjoy anything other than a nap) we’ll likely split the weekend and Saturday will be my day and Sunday hers.

  • Sarah

    why mother’s day is kind of a crock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIhKAQX5izw

    • flashphase

      When I see people posting about having the “best mom ever,” I think about how little support this country gives to moms and how a holiday is a poor excuse.

  • idkmybffjill

    This is the first mother’s day I’ve had where I was part of it in that I’m embarking on motherhood. It freaking ruled. Not necessarily for being celebrated, but in the way it made me feel connected to other mothers. All day long women with kids seeing my bump and giving me a smile… Such a tribal feeling that I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH OF. I love my mom and my stepmom and get along great with them though, so it’s never been fraught – I’ve just never felt so much a part of it before and it was awesome.

    • Lisa

      That is amazing! One of my friends is actively TTC, and when her husband went to buy her a pregnancy test yesterday, he also came home with a Mother’s Day card just in case it came back positive. (The test was negative, but he still gave her the card with a nice message in it about how she was going to be a great mom and how he can’t wait to parent with her.) She described to me a feeling like what you did–that she felt like she’s starting to belong to this other tribe even though she’s not quite there yet, but she’s so excited and ready for it.

      • idkmybffjill

        It was so amazing! What a kind thing for her husband to do. I know TTC can be a TRIP.
        I wasn’t expecting the feeling at all. I don’t totally feel like I’ve “earned” membership, but was still hopeful my husband would acknowledge it. He did which was great, but turned out it was the other women around me that I felt I was celebrating with most. It was super cool!

        Both my mom and stepmom wished me a Happy Mother’s day and I’m getting a little weepy just thinking about it!

  • JC

    I’m feeling really protective of my mom lately because I’ve noticed a trend where people don’t invite their friends’ parents to the wedding. I feel like my parents have been snubbed a couple of times recently, so I was happy to be home with my mom this weekend, doing our normal weekend things that were extra fun because it was Mother’s Day, and also I got to see and give love to my godmothers– my mom’s best friend from church who has known me my whole life and my childhood best friend’s mom from down the street who treats me like her daughter.

    • Amy March

      Is this a thing? Inviting friends parents (as opposed to parents friends) to weddings?

      • JC

        Is it where I’m from, but you’re the one getting the up votes, and not me, so there you go.

        • Lisa

          The only time I’ve seen this is when the friends’ parents were particularly close to the couple. (My mother was invited to my high school friend’s wedding because she was our Girl Scout leader, I sat at a table with our best man’s high school friend and the friend’s mother aka hockey mom, etc.) Those relationships have components that are independent from the friend’s parent relationship.

          • JC

            My mom cared for my high school best friend while she was in an abusive relationship and estranged from her mom. Wasn’t invited to the wedding.

          • Lisa

            That was extremely kind of your mother, and I’m sure your friend really appreciated it. As we’ve all discussed so many times here, we can never know what exactly tips a guest list one way or another. Maybe your friend’s grateful, but your mother reminds her of an upsetting period of her life, and she doesn’t want that around on her wedding. Maybe there was a strict guest cap, her fiancé had someone who needed to be invited, and she figured your mother would understand. I have no idea what made her make that decision! It can be difficult, but we can’t necessarily take all guest list choices personally.

          • JC

            I appreciate your graciousness for a stranger, but as I said, I’m feeling protective of my own mother. I do take it personally.

          • Jess

            Yeah, that seems like a thing that would warrant an invite, I agree. Like, basic “oh, Friend’s parent that I’ve met like three times” doesn’t seem necessary to me, but “stood in a maternal role during a difficult time” makes a lot of sense.

          • penguin

            Ah ok, I was thinking about friends’ parents where I just have a passing “hello/goodbye/nice to see you” relationship with them, not something more substantial like this. I can see how your mom being left off the invite list in that situation would hurt a lot.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Oh man, yeah, that would be an incredibly hurtful snub. :(

        • CMT

          I’ve seen it! And I’d much rather invite my friends’ parents than my parents’ friends (although there is quite a bit of overlap). A lot of my friends’ parents are my friends too, now that we’re older. (This would be friends I grew up with. I don’t know the parents of any friends I’ve made as an adult.)

        • BSM

          Half of my guests at our wedding were my friends’ parents! One of my guest list regrets was not inviting more of them!

          • JC

            This is going to be our situation.

          • BSM

            Yeah, I mean, these are people who I’ve known since I was 5, so 20 years by the time I got married. They drove me for carpool, took me on family vacations, made me breakfast after sleepovers, and are/were important adults in my life (just like my parents were for a lot of my friends). Many of them will also be invited to my baby shower this summer, and of course I wanted them to witness my marriage! In turn, I totally get your hurt about your mom being snubbed. I’m sorry :(

        • I invited one set of friend’s parents to my wedding, and she invited my parents to hers (my best friend in high school). There were other people invited who were parents of my friends, but they were more like family friends than specifically my parents friends or my friends parents. I mostly invited family friends and family though, since I don’t tend towards large numbers of friends.

      • Vanessa

        When we were first making our guest list we definitely talked about inviting a few friends’ parents, two couples at whose homes my fiance spent tons of time as a teenager. We see them all the time (as we are still friends with their kids and live the same city). We ended up going smaller and cutting both friends’ parents and parents’ friends, but I would probably include friends’ parents before parents’ friends.

      • Mer

        It is for me and my friends, but we might be an exception? I’m only talking about childhood friends. Specifically ones where I hung out at their house for 10 years after school and weekends. Plus, that’s at an age where because I’m friends with this person, our parents automatically at least know each other and are friendly. So yeah, I have a group of 5 close friends from childhood and I’m inviting all their parents.

      • Sarah

        I was in a friend’s wedding (HS friend) and she knew my folks but not real well. My grandmother was surprised they weren’t invited which I found odd. Old tradition?

      • K. is skittish about disqus

        We got a lot of pressure to invite the family members of our wedding party. Which was fine for the ones we knew well or since childhood, but that’s just not the case for all. It was odd to us that the assumption seemed to be that my husband couldn’t invite our officiant’s parents that he’s known since he was 15 (and who he lived with for a short time) without inviting one of his college friend’s parents who he met once at Parent’s Weekend freshmen year.

      • Kaitlyn

        I’m inviting the parents of my MOH and the parents of my college best friend since both those families helped take care of me over the years and I consider them family. My parents were invited to my MOH’s wedding and my college best friend is planning on inviting my ‘rents when it’s her time as well since they also consider my parents family.

      • April

        I can’t confirm if it’s a “thing” but it was something we did. I invited the parents of friends that I spent a lot of time with growing up and my partner comes from a small community where parents of friends are also parent’s friends. We had a few families with several generations at our wedding and it was awesome. I think it probably depends on where you grew up and what kind of wedding you want.

    • Jess

      Eh…. I have never been close to any parents of my friends nor have my parents been close to my friends. Like, it would not have occurred to me to invite any of them to my wedding. (ETA: you know what, I take that back. Exactly one friend’s parents were invited because I do actually really like them and they are very good friends with my parents)

      On the other hand, R’s mom is invited to ALL her sister’s friend’s weddings because she was super involved.

    • JC

      I’m out. No one’s comments had this intention, I’m feeling like I’m being told my mom doesn’t matter, and this post was about what Mother’s Day means. See you all tomorrow.

      • CMT

        I get pretty defensive when I feel like my parents are being snubbed, too. It sucks, especially when it’s my own friends who do it.

  • emmers

    I have mixed feelings about mother’s day. My husband I did some nice stuff with our mom’s this year, and spent quality time with them. But (and I know I’ve posted about this a million times), I had a miscarriage last year. And that part– thinking about how I could have had a live kid with me this year, but don’t, sucks. And I know that most people (even APW!) that’s all into celebrating mamas are mostly coming from a good place– I just so much appreciate it when there’s nuance, and the recognition that this is not an easy holiday for many. It stings more when it’s ra-ra-yay-women-who-are-moms, without any qualification.

    I actually really appreciate how my tiny church handled it. They didn’t really do any public recognition of mother’s day that I could see. People still wished others happy mother’s day individually, but no big corporate recognition, which I think was probably intentional.

    • anon for ranting

      I am right there with you. We have “talked” about this before on here, though I am paranoid and therefore anonymous. I had a miscarriage in August after almost a year of trying to get pregnant, and have had no luck conceiving since then, so like you, the thought that I could have had a baby and been a mother by now if that pregnancy had gone another way, was sort of a head fuck yesterday. I keep typing and deleting, because I’m really way too emotional to be posting in public right now. All I really wanted to say is that this post makes me feel less alone, and I am sorry that you are also experiencing this.

  • Violet

    Fortunately, how I feel about Mothers’ Day is how my mom feels about it: it’s for us. This means I in no way feel the inclination to post anything on FB or otherwise rub people’s faces in how much I love her. Especially knowing that many people’s mothers have died, left them, have substance abuse issues, and on and on. As a kid, it was a day for my sister and I to make her breakfast in bed and give her homemade cards. As adults, it’s a way to take her to brunch and give her slightly nicer cards. We show our love for her on a regular basis, and while the day is a nice extra gesture, it’s not expected to make up for a lack of appreciation the rest of the year.
    In short, we’re all on the same page, so it doesn’t cause a great deal of angst for us. Not everyone is so lucky.

  • Christina McPants

    When you are a two mom family, mother’s day is kind of weird. Who gets mother’s day? Gestational mom? Does non-gestational mom get father’s day? Do we each get both?

    Our anniversary was Sunday too, so we went out the night before. Family plans to go to the zoo were thwarted by literally hours of tantrums (1.5 hour tantrum before nap, 2 hours before bedtime, horrifying meltdown in Target).

    • Mary Jo TC

      I feel you so hard on the tantrums. Solidarity.

      • Christina McPants

        These bedtime delay demands / tantrums are going to break me, I swear.

    • E.

      I have a two mom family and I always celebrated both! It made it a little harder when I was younger, because having a non-celebrated parent to help is pretty necessary, but my moms would usually each help us do something for the other.

  • C.

    I love, love, love my mother. I love my mothers- and grandmothers-in-law and I’m so glad we are close enough geographically to spend the day together on special holidays. Everyone’s cool about celebrating on different days due to family dynamics and mostly they just want to hang out with us rather than a big to-do.

    But y’all. Y’ALL. With the new addition of the in-laws I just experienced three years’ worth of Mother’s Days in one weekend – dinner with the husband’s stepmom on Friday, all day with his extended family and mom Saturday, and all day with my family on Sunday. And I think I’m also supposed to call his other grandmother? I’m all family-d out. I just had a cup of coffee and am only now beginning to feel less like a zombie.

    I’m trying to look at all the positives – I have a great family and nice in-laws! Everyone’s still with us and happy and healthy! We all get along (well except when my younger sisters don’t chip in for our mom’s present or dinner as promised………..)! However, I cannot imagine doing this again next year. I will probably collapse into an exhausted puddle of resentment and guilt holding a Hallmark card with a butterfly on the front.

    And oh god, what will we do for Father’s Day?

    How do other introverts handle it?

    • Jess

      I handle it (the pressure to celebrate all the holidays with everyone) by assigning years and alternating holidays. Because I cannot deal with All The Events. So, this year, R’s parents had the opportunity to see us on Easter, my parents will get Thanksgiving, and his will get Christmas. If someone declines, we do not substitute the other family, unless we want to.

      Next year, it will switch. We’re helped by geographical impossibilities, but it really works to keep the amount of peopling down.

    • Amy March

      Why do you need to call his grand ma? She’s not your mom. Send cards if you feel you need to do something, or he can call his side.

    • emmers

      My husband and I sometimes combine. Like Saturday we took both of our moms to buy plants. Two moms, one stone!

    • K.

      Can’t your partner call his grandmother? I hope that doesn’t sound too snarky, but seriously, let him take the lead on his family, unless there’s a real reason you have to (and “he won’t” or “I feel like I should” aren’t real reasons). For future holidays, any chance your respective families would be ok if you split it up? He could celebrate with his, and you could celebrate with yours? I’m also an introvert, and that’s pretty much how we handle it–I’ll sign the card for my mother-in-law, but my wife’s in charge of buying and mailing it, and if we were geographically close to either set of parents, we’d probably do similar.

  • Zoya

    My mother-in-law passed away a month ago, so this Mother’s Day has been hard. I’ve been extra-aware of how people casually assume I have a mother to celebrate with. The clerk at the tea shop who gave me a free gift with purchase, and as she was packing it up said, “You don’t even need to tell her it was free!” The cashier who said, “Call your mother!” as she handed me my grocery bag.

    I’ve been more or less shrugging it off, but I think it’s wearing on my husband. He said that the individual comments aren’t too painful, since he’s steeled himself for them. But the cumulative effect is making it hard for him to think about anything but his mom. Not that we really needed such a visceral reminder of how Hallmark holidays aren’t so shiny for everyone, but it’s super-apparent this year.

    On the other hand, this made me feel so fortunate to make dinner and drink wine with my mom and family on Sunday. I’m hugging her extra-tightly these days.

    • emmers

      Yes! It’s the microaggressions.

      • BSM

        I get what you’re saying, but I think “microaggression” is way too strong a word for this.

    • Heather

      Oof, it took me years before I had the emotional energy to avoid crying or saying “my mom is dead” to people who were just trying to make a harmless comment. It sucks.

    • Eh

      My mom passed away when I was a teenager. For years I avoided stores leading up to Mother’s Day (I now shop at places that have self-checkout lanes). I get that other people don’t know what you have been through or you are going through, and they think they are being nice, but it can be really hard for people to be bombarded with these reminders for weeks leading up to Mother’s Day.

  • Audrey

    Mother’s day is always slightly frustrating for me because I have a complex relationship with my mom. I love her, but she tends to make everything about herself and I feel like I do too much emotional work for her (and have been for years).

    Since I refuse to buy cards that say “World’s Best Mom!!!!!!!!!!” on them or express sentiments I’m uncomfortable with I spend a lot of time trying to find a card that expresses how much I care about her without being a bit disingenuous. I probably overthink it a lot. And I probably should stop going on Facebook watching everyone saying “omg my mom is the strongest bestest person in the world” because then I start feeling bad that I don’t feel the same way.

    • Violet

      FWIW, I don’t have conflicted feelings about my mom, but I still don’t think she’s the “est” anything (best, strongest, etc.). She’s my mom, and I think she’s great and I love her, but it’s not a goddamn competition of any kind. That kinda crap always annoys me. It’s like when people post: “I have the BEST husband!” Okay, I know what you’re trying to say, but really? Come on.

      • flashphase

        YES, watching people post “Happy mother’s day to the best mom in the world” just makes me feel like they had to do it or their moms would yell at them (sideeyes the narcissistic moms I know)

        • MyAnonAccount

          meh … I have to do it or my mom will yell … I just take the yelling.

    • Olive

      I can comiserate…I’m definitely in a better place with my mom than I was a couple years ago (when she said it hurt her feelings that I sent her a card but not a gift…), but Mother’s day in my family is a lot. I’m thankful that I can choose how my family celebrates it in the future if/when I’m a mom.

      I make greeting cards and made one this year that kind of sums up how I feel about mother’s day…it said “Statistically speaking, you’re not the best mom…but I think you’re great!” I’m so sick of hearing how everyone has the best mom!

  • Ilora

    Last year for mother’s day my husband and I went over to my parents place to play board games (which we did regularly anyway). And took 3 of her favourite kind of caramel apple (2 for everyone to share and one just for her. If we only took one for her she’d end up choosing to share). My brother brought her favourite meal home from the restaurant he works at. It feels lackluster, and yet she described it as “the best Mother’s Day Ever”.

    This year we did the exact same thing. It feels like “cheating” to not come up with something newer and better but… that’s not what she wants!

    This year was my first Mother’s Day. We’ve got a 3 month old who’s not sleeping through the night so when we got home from visiting my parents place my husband held the baby (who refuses to nap unless he’s being held) and I had a nap! It was the best nap ever haha! Leading up to mother’s day he had been asking what I wanted and I still can’t decide what feels like an “appropriate” mother’s day gift. He ended up getting me a piece of jewelry with our son’s birth stone, I had been wanting one and am super happy about it…but it’s a more over the top gift than I will want for future Mother’s Days. He felt really guilty for forgetting my birthday earlier this month 😂
    Long story short, I’m still deciding how I feel about celebrating myself for Mother’s Day..

  • ruth

    Mother’s Day is a rough holiday for me, as we struggle with infertility, year after year. A friend of mine, who has had three miscarriages, was telling me recently what a devastating day Mother’s Day can be for her. One of the things I’ve always loved about my adopted religion, Judaism, is that there are days of mourning as well as days of joy (because life has need of both) and I think that’s something that American culture is generally bad at. There’s no room in the schmaltzy-happy Hallmark card holiday for any negative emotions around Mother’s Day, and I think that’s to no one’s benefit. I have a loving but fraught relationship with my own biological mother. I actually spent part of yesterday, in addition to doing typical mother’s day activities like brunch and spa treatments, having a very difficult, uncomfortable boundary setting conversation with my mom (who was visiting.) My parents are currently in the process of going through a very, very ugly divorce – my mom and I talk on the phone for an hour twice a week and for the past 6 months, that’s meant me listening to her hysterically crying and railing about my dad – and having her stay with us one week out of every six weeks, which has also included almost daily sobbing and railing about my dad – and I had to point blank tell her I can’t go on like this. I have to set some boundaries. I work two jobs – both a full time day job, and also write one plus books a year as a published author – I already feel like I am maxed out physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I can’t handle the emotional labor my mom creates on top of everything else. I don’t want to be a jerk to someone who is suffering, but I also don’t want my resentment of the emotional labor my mom creates in my husband’s and my life to continue to grow. My mom was actually somewhat understanding and apologized for some of her outbursts about my dad, and said she’d try to rely more on her friends and not lean so much on me for her emotional comfort. Setting that boundary – that I am her daughter, NOT her friend, has been one of the toughest things for us. I know some adult children who are friends with their mothers; I’m slightly envious of people who can make that work. I think that’s rare. One thing my mother has really taught me is the importance of pursuing a well-rounded fulfilling life outside of motherhood – through careers, relationships, friendships etc… My mom was an uber stay at home wife/mother. And now that she doesn’t have that role to play anymore, I don’t think she knows who she is. And she’s melting down. I’m trying to structure my life now so I don’t have a crisis like that when I’m in my 60’s.

    • Lisa

      Oof, I feel you on the last portion of your comment. I love my mom, but she was a SAHM for many years. We and our activities were her social outlet, and once we were gone, my extrovert mother didn’t have regular contact with other people. She’s spent the last several years struggling to find what was next for her.

      We were talking about the kids question the other week, and she made some comment about how, when you have kids, you have to be ready to give up your entire life and make sacrifices for them. I’m not yet a parent, and I’m acutely aware that kids change things and shift priorities, but I also realize that I don’t want to give myself over to my kids SO MUCH that I lose the things that make me happy.

      • penguin

        “she made some comment about how, when you have kids, you have to be ready to give up your entire life and make sacrifices for them”

        Some people in my family harp on that same idea constantly, and it gives me hives. Like yeah obviously your kids should be a priority and you should take care of them… but you can also still have a life of your own, and focus on your marriage, and lots of other things.

      • ruth

        Yes! Same! Comments like these scare the hell out of me – and have even made me sometimes think twice about our commitment to having children – but I agree; while of course parenting involves sacrifice, I don’t think that “giving up your entire life” is healthy. Watching my parents in the ugliness of their divorce right now makes me think that more focus on their marriage and less on children might have really been helpful, maybe helped prevent this mess. It’s also really hard, as an adult child trying to forge a life that combines work I love and parenting to have NO role model on how to do that. I agree with Penguin below too, that I think the martyrdom complex our culture has around motherhood is to nobody’s benefit, parents or children.

      • Kaitlyn

        Right there with you. A conversation that’s been circling my friend group recently is if you’re supposed to love your spouse or your child more, since it seems (as a narrative, not factual) that you’re supposed to love your child more. But I don’t want to make that choice and I also don’t want to sacrifice my relationship with my FH for our children. Priorities will obviously shift, but I don’t them to shift so dramatically.

        My mom has four kids and surprised me recently by telling me not to have more than 2, one for me and my FH (because apparently kids always have a favorite parent haha). We’re all spread out in age (19 years between oldest and youngest) and I know she resents still having a 14-year-old at home. Not that she doesn’t love and enjoy him, but she thought she’d basically be done raising kids by now and can enjoy being a grandma and taking “me” time. She became a mother at 18 and the last 33 years have been dedicated to kids, girlfriend needs a break.

        • Amy March

          That conversation sounds like poking a scab.

          • Ashlah

            I’ve always hated that question with a passion. Why does it even exist? The love is different, you love them both, the end.

          • Kaitlyn

            Exactly! Though I think my parents’ relationship eventually just became about us and not them. My fiance has a really great example of his parents’ “date nights”. They would order the boys a pizza and basically be like “don’t bother us” as they spent the night cooking dinner and bonding in another room. Now they’re always on adventures and dating again, and it seems like they really set up their relationship for a solid foundation.

          • K. is skittish about disqus

            Making any kind of love competitive is so weird to me. I think it comes from the idea of “your spouse/child/etc. should be your first priority” but that’s a totally different conversation and concept from the love you feel for any given person. It’s not a finite resource.

          • rg223

            That’s such a good point – if you frame it like “Who is your top priority?” then yes, I’d answer my son because I have the biological and ethical drive to keep him alive. But is that really a greater “love” than what I feel for my husband? I don’t really think so.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          The spouse vs. kid issue was presented somewhat differently to a friend and her then-fiancé in premarital counseling. “You’ve come home from a trip, and your parents, spouse, and children are all waiting for you at the gate when you get off the plane. Who do you kiss/hug hello first?” She figured it was best to kiss the kids hello, because they would miss you the most. The pastor’s answer was that your spouse should come first, because you actively chose to leave your parents to become a partnership with your spouse. Your children are a result of that union (aside from blended families), they’re supported by it as they grow up, and you’ll continue (hopefully) to be in that union once your children have launched. He spoke separately about the many different types of love, how they’re expressed, how you can feel different types of love for different people, or even to the same person at different times.

          • Violet

            In that case, it sounds like the real question is, “Who’s emotional experience do you prioritize?” I’d probably answer that, like most things, it depends. Some days I’m an excellent employee but meh wife, other days a great wife but a less than stellar friend. Etc. I think this is only a real issue if someone *consistently* puts one party’s needs above another’s.

      • idkmybffjill

        This is one of my major goals as a parent. My mom followed your moms example (although she worked), and is frankly somewhat bereft now that I’m not at home. My dad and stepmom, by contrast, always had a very vibrant and full social life. It’s easier to be their adult child, to be honest. I want that for me and for my children.

        • Antonia

          This is really good for me to read, actually. I sometimes feel guilty about not being the baby-wearing, food-pureeing, my-life-began-when-I-became-a-mother type, and seeing that adult children might not actually desire those traits in a parent makes me feel a lot better. So thank you!

          • idkmybffjill

            You bet! It’s a huge amount of pressure to be the Major Thing in My Mother’s Life. I also don’t have siblings on her side (half brother on the other). She is lovely and grateful and not one to guilt or anything like that…. but it is still a lot of pressure knowing I’m kind of her whole life. Now that I’m having a kid it’s great, cause she has someone else to put effort into. But in the later years of college and early adulthood it was pretty rough on her that I didn’t NEED her.

          • ruth

            This made me think of the podcast The Longest Shortest Time. It’s tough because when your kids are little enough to be worn and need pureed food, motherhood can be so all encompassing, but that’s actually SUCH a short stage in the lifetime of your relationship with them. You’re a parent of little kids for only a few years, but the parents of adults for hopefully decades. I’ve always felt like this long range perspective needs to come into the parenting conversation. That kind of intensive mothering is not a lifetime job. It’s actually only a fairly short-term temp job.

        • BSM

          I would love some kind of open thread on this and how to do it.

          My husband and I both have relatively satisfying full-time jobs, interests and hobbies outside of ourselves, and friends that we get together with, but we definitely spend the majority of our time hanging out with just each other.

          I’ve always been a little nervous (probably in part due to how awesome and active people here are outside of their partnerships) that we weren’t doing enough other stuff in the unfortunate event that something happened to our marriage. My concerns are now kind of turning towards how we’ll be as parents – will we be so joyfully focused on the kiddo and our immediate family that we’ll forget to be whole people?

          So, like, anyone have advice? Am I overthinking this?

          • idkmybffjill

            I think alot of it is just how you nurture those relationships. I don’t see my friends all the time, but we are in contact almost every day (what up group text)! TBH part of that for me is that I get drained by too many plans, but I make the effort to invite friends to do things, and say yes to things friends ask me to do. I stay involved in their lives. In general – my goal is to just keep doing that with a kid too! Not letting my kid take center stage to the point where I don’t know what’s going on in my single friend’s dating life. Or not asking about a friend’s grad school. Those little touchpoints don’t require alot of effort really. Texting here and there keeps the lifeline alive in a way that I hope will keep us all together through the seasons of life.

          • BSM

            Phew, you made me feel better. I definitely make an effort to stay involved in my friends’ lives, but it’s daily gchat/text, not frequent in-person hanging out, since my best friends aren’t local. Good reminder that there are lots of ways to stay connected.

          • idkmybffjill

            Absolutely! With my mom, I think about it like – she doesn’t really have friends she can call if something frustrating happens. She pretty much has me…. and that’s it. I feel like as long as I keep my life in a place where I have friends I can call and who I haven’t only used for my own needs (but been an active participant in their lives too), we’ll make it through the periods where someone is in a really tough semester of grad school, or just had a newborn, or planning a wedding and not devoted to friendship. Just having each other as touchstones through it all is what friendship means to me! And sometimes keeping those alive is about being like, “do you need a coffee after that date?” and sometimes it’s just saying “Please send me every picture of the thing you’re interested in.”

          • Jessica

            I would also love an open thread about this, I have very strong feelings about it and they cannot fit into this thread.

            My take is that you need robust friendships outside of your marriage friendship. That is most recently shaped by my husband’s breakdown, and observations of other relationships/end of relationships and now friend’s pregnancies.

          • ruth

            Seconding that this would be such a great topic for an Open Thread! *Fingers crossed this will appear on APW of The Compact*

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        My mom was an extrovert SAHM who was lost when we moved out and pulled away. She an I are actually starting to rebuild on the other side of that weirdness, and we’re starting to develop a really positive friendship, which is actually pretty exciting for us both. But before that there were tears and anger and frustration and hurt feelings and misunderstandings. There were growing pains. Underneath it all was an understanding that we love each other and want the best for each other, we just had different ideas of what that should look like, and sometimes still do.

        • Lisa

          Yes, at one point after we’d all left home and gotten jobs (and two of us were married) and when she was quitting a toxic job, my mom made a comment about how maybe she shouldn’t pursue getting a new job because it would free up her time to be available to help us whenever we needed her. I was like, “….while I really appreciate you wanting to be free to assist us, I hope you know that you raised us to be capable adults. If you want to get a job or volunteer or something, don’t hold back because you think we might need you. We’ll figure ourselves out.”

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            When I left for college, I took the family’s old minivan with me. My mom replaced it with…another minivan. I knew she was figuring out the post-actively-momming thing when the next car was a sporty sedan with a V6.

          • Lisa

            Haha, I love this! My dad wants to replace their 2004 Honda Odyssey with another minivan, but my mother finally put her foot down and said that she would never have another one. When they bought their new vehicle in 2012, she was the one who got the sporty, new road-tripping car, and my dad took over full-time driving of the van because he wouldn’t part with it. My mother’s refusal to buy another one has also pushed him to finally keep a car well past its warranty and 100,000 miles, which he’s never done before.

    • idkmybffjill

      I’m jealous of this boundary setting. it’s something I desperately need with my mom. Unfortunately her life has turned out that she doesn’t really have friends. Her sister was her very best friend and died very young, and next to that honestly I think my stepmom is her closest friend. (My stepmom is an angel who cares about my mom, but wouldn’t consider the relationship reciprocal).

      She’s in a rough marriage and talks to me about it and I so desperately wish to disconnect, but I don’t know how without being like, “please talk to no one”. It’s ROUGH. good good good on you for setting that boundary with your mom!

      • ruth

        My mom also doesn’t have enough friends and it creates this problem. I’ve been really actively encouraging my mom to join local meet up groups for things she enjoys and consider moving from her isolated home to one of those over 55 communities, where she would have more support. Also, my mom recently started going to Therapy and it’s helped so much! (Because now I don’t have to play the role of therapist!) If that is something your mom can afford and is willing to do, I’ve found it to be a hugely helpful outlet (and take that burden off of me as the adult kid!) Good luck!!

    • MyAnonAccount

      I suspect a similar situation with my mom – lifetime stay at home mom … who’s now having an identity crisis and taking out her own issues on the only person she really can … her only child, me.

      • ruth

        Only child solidarity fist bump! While I think a lot of people go through this issue with their parents as adults, I think only children definitely get hit harder here.

  • Alyssa

    Mother’s day is such an interesting contrast (to me) between my fiance’s family and mine. To his mom it is a HUGE deal — as in 6 years ago got pissed at us for being out of town and opting to skip a mother’s day brunch (it was such an ordeal that we just sucked it up and drove the 1.5 hours to go). I realized recently though that this might have to do with the fact that she never worked, and her job was “Mom”, so Mother’s day really feels more like a hard-earned celebration of everything she’s done for her family.

    I think that’s something she holds in a different regard than, say, my mom, who’s always worked, but she became a teacher so that we had similar schedules. Nothing wrong with either scenario, but just different ways of being. My family has never really celebrated it — and I love my mom! But she doesn’t like having that kind of attention on her, and … I don’t know, we’ve just never done anything for it. So I texted her Happy Mother’s day from me and my cat (her surrogate granddaughter for now). So it felt like a normal day for me — and luckily my MIL-to-be wanted to lounge at home, so Fiance and I went to SF MOMA (to see the exhibit of our beloved Matisse’s work) and went to a beer garden in Oakland. It was a good weekend!

  • My mom lost her mom this past January, and I’ve been trying to be as supportive as I can while being 600 miles away. My grandmother’s passing has reminded me that there will be a time when my mom won’t be here, and it freaks me out. The idea of living in a world where my mom isn’t in it…it brings tears to my eyes even now. I don’t know how I could do it without her. We haven’t always had the best relationship, but she’s always been there, you know? I’m considering asking her to make a video that I can save so when she is gone, I’ll still have it.

    Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day, and it kinda felt like getting into a special club. Like when you pledge and then you’re finally on the other side.

    • LadyMe

      Both my grandmothers passed away 3 years ago, and I still get teary when I think about how one day it’s going to be my turn to go through that. I am so not ready for that to ever happen. I like your video idea.

    • K.

      Yeah, like I said in another comment, I also just lost my maternal grandmother, and I’m feeling the same. I can’t even think about it without losing it. Watching my mom go through this, I can’t imagine being able to do it myself. The relationship she and her mom had was a lot like our relationship, and I just need her so much.

  • Sarah

    This was my first mother’s day and it was overall good but I did have complicated emotions throughout the day.

    I joke that my mom has ruined motherhood for me because she set the bar too high. I’m only partly kidding though. My mom is fantastic. She is everything we say moms are in those cheesy hallmark commercials – she does all the thankless work, takes care of everyone before herself, is the manager of the household, is who I still go to when I am upset and she always says what I need to hear. She was my primary caretaker. My parents are still married and my dad is great and was around, but my mom was the primary caregiver. She also worked (part time until we were in school, then up to full time mid-elementary school) and kept the house spotless and both back and front yards immaculately landscaped and didn’t outsource ANYTHING. I truly don’t know how she did it.

    Now that I have an 11-month old of my own I am struggling to keep up. I work full time outside the home in a demanding job. My husband works part time from home, so he is the primary caretaker. The first few months of my daughter’s life I felt like I never saw her because we were consumed with breastfeeding struggles and I ended up exclusively pumping and went back to work when she was 6 weeks old. So if I wasn’t at work I was pumping. My husband does 90% of the night feedings with her because I have to be at work the next day and I had to get up and pump through the night as well. I hardly ever had quality time with my daughter. Meanwhile neither my husband nor I has a ton of energy available to get the house and the yard work done, especially since when I am home I want to be with my daughter, not doing dishes. So I feel constantly behind on that (and no, we cannot afford to have cleaners, gardeners, or more than a couple hours per week of babysitting, so please avoid the well-intentioned comments of “oh you don’t have to do everything; get a housecleaner!” unless you plan on sending me a check to pay for it)

    I do know how lucky I am. I love that my husband is a feminist and we’re not stuck on traditional gender roles. I am so grateful to have such a supportive partner. I can’t imagine being a single mom; I couldn’t do it. I’m so glad I am able to work in a fulfilling career and have my kid well taken care of. But I am profoundly sad that I will not be the mom to my daughter that my mom was to me. When my daughter is sick or hurt or scared she will likely seek daddy’s comfort and not mine. When it’s time to settle down and go to sleep, she snuggles up to daddy, not me. She does love me, I know. But I am not the mom I want to be to her. I am the secondary parent and that makes me sad. Quitting my job or even slowing down more (I already refuse to work more than 40 hours per week) is not an option for several reasons. The setup we have works great for everyone. But it makes me sad.

  • Kara

    Mother’s Day is a non-event. For me and my husband, sure we’ll send our mother’s a card and give them a call, but that’s it (we both have good relationships with them). I will never be a mother–either biologically or otherwise. It’s just another day that has been commercialized.

    For my family and friends that do have kids, I will happily wish them a good day. For friends that I know struggle with infertility or loss, I let them know I’m thinking about them.

    As for me, our cats and dogs are the closest things we’ll get to kids, and that’s the way we want our lives. I understand why it’s tough for so many, and I try to focus on the positives.

  • Grumpy StepMom

    I mentioned in Happy Hour– I’m a Mother’s Day skeptic. As a StepMom (kids live with us full-time) I have confusion around whether I get to be celebrated and they have confusion around whether they are doing something wrong if they celebrate me. (Their Mom’s constant refrain is “I’ll always be your Mom,” which is true, of course, but in terms of actual Momming… that’s not her. It’s not entirely her fault–mental health issues–but realistically I do a lot of work.) My husband wants to celebrate me because he appreciates how much I do for his kids. I appreciate that. Even so, he came home and told me that he tried to buy me flowers but couldn’t bring himself to buy the overpriced crap he saw. I appreciate that too.

    In general it feels like a makeup Hallmark holiday to me. In my opinion, Mother’s Day cards are full of emotional labor stereotypes that piss me off and the whole thing feels obligatory. My Mom and I moved our biweekly phone call from today to yesterday… so that we talked on Mother’s Day.

    TL;DR: While I want us to value caregivers as a culture, Mother’s Day feels like a sham to me.

    • MTM

      That’s good that your husband at least appreciates what you do for the kids. He could also get a bottle of wine and a snack (or whatever favorite thing of yours) instead of nothing (“overpriced crap”).

      • Violet

        My partner almost bought me chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day one year, until he saw how expensive they were. He told me afterwards, and I said, “Thank GOD you didn’t get them!”

      • Grumpy StepMom

        That’s true. I’m struggling to put words to my feeling; flowers aren’t something he normally would get me. The fact that he even thought about it is very culturally driven. You are correct, he could think outside of that and he didn’t. Perhaps that is it–something about Mother’s Day feels impersonal to me- it’s about this “Mother” stereotype, not actually about me as a person. When it comes to my birthday, he has no trouble reaching outside stereotypical cultural gifts to figure out something I really want. But Mother’s Day overrides that.

        Part of this is likely that his relationship with his mother is very strained and painful. There’s a lot of stuff around “Mother.”

  • Laura C

    My family of origin does not do mother’s day or father’s day or basically anything but Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. So I don’t have complicated feelings about it because it’s just sort of this thing I observe other people doing without feeling like it connects to me either as something I embrace or as pressure.

    I encourage my husband to take his mother to dinner when we’re in the same place she is, and she’s always like “but what about Laura” and I’m like “Laura has no more problem having an evening alone on this day than on any other day.”

    • Alyssa

      My family is the same way, however Fiance’s mom is ALL about it, so it’s been an interesting adjustment to feel like I suddenly need to care about the holiday!

  • MyAnonAccount

    The *highlight* of my mothers day sums it up – after my mom blowing up at my husband Friday night in a manner that would typically yield weeks of silence, we sucked it up and went to bring her a card and make a brief appearance to say “I love you and Happy Mothers Day” because we’re bigger people. That brief visit (at a hospital where my grandmother was staying) ended with my mother very aggressively engaging in some well-timed verbal abuse while we were stuck at an elevator bank waiting for an elevator that was far to slow in arriving. I worried for several moments that she intended to follow us onto the elevator. My husband thereafter texting that she would never treat me like that again and needed to filter all communications through him for the foreseeable future. (to everyone of the we should each handle our own families of origin mindset… I get it … but in full context, I couldn’t and him trying to protect me was on point and appreciated)

    • rg223

      I’m so sorry. I’m glad your husband was there with the support you needed.

  • wannabee

    I like the idea of Mother’s Day in theory (I have a great mother who I am happy to send a card and gift to, I am not a mother myself), but I think it has morphed into something strange. I can’t help but contrast it with Father’s Day, which always feels like a cultural afterthought, and sort of positions dads as fun buddies. The language around Mother’s Day fetishizes sacrifice in a way that makes me low-grade uncomfortable. All my friends in their late 20s/30s with young children don’t really seem that into it either. Like I said, happy to give my mom treats and extra attention on the day.

    • CMT

      “The language around Mother’s Day fetishizes sacrifice in a way that makes me low-grade uncomfortable.” Yes, this! I think it’s a big part of my problem with all of the public posts on social media.

      • AmandaBee

        Ayup, the equating of motherhood with sacrifice has always made me uncomfortable, especially when it’s being used to sell some stuff.

        • wannabee

          “Show your mother you appreciate how painful childbirth was with…this candle, I guess?” As usual, capitalism ruins a nice idea.

          • idkmybffjill

            I’m pregnant so maybe I don’t fully grasp it yet – but I also HATE the idea that kids owe their moms for the difficulty of pregnancy/child birth. My kid didn’t ask me to do it! I’m choosing to! He doesn’t have to repay me for the difficult parts. What a weird idea.

          • BSM

            Whaaat? This is a thing? Weird.

            Possibly unpopular opinion: I do expect some sympathy and admiration from my husband for the physical difficulty involved in pregnancy/childbirth, but I think it’s more because I’m pretty impressed with myself and want him to take notice rather than something he owes me.

          • idkmybffjill

            Yes!!! I totally agree. I have a friend whose mom uses it all the time, “I had a very difficult labor so you owe me xyz”. She also apparently LOST HER MIND when he went out of state to celebrate thanksgiving with his wife’s family because his birthday falls near the day. ‘Your birthday is not just your day, it’s also mine.”.

            I also expect full appreciation from my husband. Our kid is a choice we’ve made together and I have to do the hard bit right now. But my kid didn’t get a vote! I partly wonder if this plays on one’s feelings on choice or not. For me, my baby is fully a choice that we’re making and not just a miracle gift from god – so I feel like he owes me not shit for the getting made bit.

          • Ashlah

            I feel the same way re: admiration/appreciation from my husband for the physical aspects of pregnancy and birth. I don’t expect or want it it from literally anyone else or from society at large, but from my husband, yes.

          • BSM

            Totally. It’s a husband-specific thing because, like @rachelbrownjohn:disqus mentions, we made this choice together, and, while he is doing a great job supporting me (like, A+ job), I’m doing the physical heavy lifting from that positive pregnancy test through birth/the fourth trimester (was reading about 4T yesterday – eesh).

    • Ashlah

      I was complaining to my husband while we were trying to choose cards at the store that there were barely any funny cards for Mother’s Day. Moms don’t like to laugh? Moms aren’t fun? I don’t want to (and don’t) appreciate my mom’s contribution to my life only in terms of sacrifice and serious matters. The fun we had/have together and the lighthearted sentiments we share are important too, but seem rarely acknowledged.

      • Jessica

        I had the same problem when I was looking for a baby-shower card for my cousin. I asked her if she had lost her sense of humor when she got prego, she looked confused/hurt and said no, and I had to inform her that the greeting card industry thinks she did.

        • Ashlah

          Oh, mainstream baby shower cards are the worst! All the “funny” ones are just icky gender stereotypes, either about the baby or about Dad. I got so pissed off at Target the last time I tried to find one.

          • BSM

            Target’s card selection is such garbage. It’s all weird, not-funny joke cards or way over the top sentimental shit. Every time I look there, I’m shocked at how terrible it still is.

          • Jessica

            Yeppp. I just got her a blank card that said “YAY!” and inside I wrote “I hope you have a cool baby!”

            Every time Emily McDowell has a sale I order a couple wedding and baby cards along with whatever I’m actually looking for. I don’t have time for sappy, not funny, offensive baby cards.

          • Olive

            Emily McDowell is great!

          • BSM

            THERE SHOULD BE SO MANY MORE BLANK CARDS.

        • Olive

          I make scientific-themed greeting cards, and this is great info!!! Thanks, ladies! It’s kind of a niche market, but I’ll see what I can come up with and let you all know!

          • Jessica

            Tell me more!

          • Olive

            They’re handmade sciencey/feministy cards…mostly things I make for friends/family (I’m a 5th year PhD student in chemistry, so I’ve know a lot of people who have graduated…) and then enough people said “That’s so cute and clever!” that I opened an etsy shop! I’ve always made cards…it’s become a really fun coping mechanism in grad school!

            oliviaathome.etsy.com, also on insta @oliviaathomeart

    • From what I hear in these comments, it seems like Mother’s Day has become more intense in the U.S. in the last 8 or so years. I moved away room the US then, and it seems to be more intense now than what I remember. (Or maybe the difference is partially in having more friends who have had kids during that time frame?) But I don’t remember senators talking about Mother’s Day in television ads or any of the very public declarations that seem to be more common now.

  • Yet another Meg

    We both have good relationships with our mothers and our families live in the same town as us. Since getting married, my husband and I cook dinner every year for my parents, his parents, my grandmother and one of my great aunts. Which is lovely and we are happy to do. This year was a little odd, since I am a month away from having our first child so we were still doing mother’s day in our usual way, but my inlaws brought flowers for me ( which was lovely). Next year will be even stranger as baby will actually be here…and my mother at least sees nothing wrong with me spending mother’s day cooking for her since “she’s the grandmother”…which is very typical of my mom but stung just a little bit in the assumption that the day would more or less continue to be all about her.

    • Ashlah

      Another commenter talked about her MIL believing the oldest mother is the most important, but I’m thinking, if it has to be a competition at all, shouldn’t the ones currently, actively mothering children be the ones most celebrated and pampered? Hm. Good luck navigating next year!

      • Eh

        My MIL believes that Mother’s Day is all about her. Her birthday is around that time and she is the Golden Child in her family so I am pretty sure she has always made that weekend about her even before she was a mother. Her mother (who she is very close to) frequently doesn’t attend the Mother’s Day celebrations for my MIL because we usually have brunch, and my husband’s grandmother would rather go to church and get the attention they give to mother’s there. Both my MIL’s sons (her only two children) are married and have children and she still expects to be the focus of the celebration.

        I get that it can suck to have a birthday around another holiday/celebration (my birthday is always around the first long weekend of the summer so everyone goes away or has plans). Sometimes things need to change because other people have other commitments or priorities.

  • AmandaBee

    This was the first year I did not call my own biological mom for mother’s day. I was raised by my dad and my grandma, not my mom. My mom has mental health problems that made her unstable and often abusive when I was growing up. Our relationship has always centered around her needs, not mine.

    I usually go through the motions of calling her on mother’s day, but this year she did some things that really crossed the line and I stopped speaking with her about a month ago. I felt a little guilty, but I focused on reaching out to my other mom figures (grandma, stepmom) instead.

    I wouldn’t say I dislike social media posts about mother’s day, but they do serve as a reminder of the relationship I wish I’d been able to have with my mom. I wonder sometimes how I’ll feel about the day if/when I have kids of my own, since it’s never been a day I went out of my way to celebrate.

  • Transnonymous

    This was a very weird mother’s day for me. I came out to my family a few weeks ago, which prompted my mom to fly out to see me so we could have some Tough Conversations. I won’t get into the substance here, but the essence is that she’s trying, but doesn’t yet understand. Which is fine – I don’t expect her to make a shift overnight – but did lead to her saying some unintentionally hurtful and transphobic things (which I addressed).

    It made me feel like I kind of had to go over the top for mother’s day this year because she’s still processing. We still love each other and our relationship is otherwise fine, but I feel like we’re all in a strange space of learning how to deal with things right now. It doesn’t cause me any real grief, but it has made things awkward.

  • Cara

    I’m really irritated with all the emails and advertisements telling me what my mom deserves for mother’s day. A) you don’t know her, and B) what she really “deserves” is to still be alive and be able to meet her grandson. It’s extra weird this year to kind of celebrate my motherhood, but still be so sad she’s not here (she passed away almost 3 years ago). I also feel like a fraud, like I don’t deserve any special treatment because I don’t feel like I’m a great mom (or rather that I could be a better one), and I’ve never been a big fan of gifts for mother’s/father’s day, it seems so unnecessary (can you tell gifts are NOT one of my love languages?). I could do without mother’s day, I guess.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    I am quite meh about the day as it pertains to me and always send my mom a card and call. I have so many friends who are moms for whom this day is stressful. There’s family pressure to go all out for their mom especially now that they’re adults and can do more. Then their husbands can’t pull it together for one day and they either end up with shitty plans that they kind of have to coach their husbands through or nothing.

    • Eh

      This is actually one of the issues I have with my MIL’s expectations. My husband and my BIL (her only two children) have their own wives and children. So now they need to throw an over the top celebration for their mother and do something for their wife. I have low expectations for Mother’s Day (because of my complicated relationship with it) so I don’t mind my husband not doing anything for me, but I have to coach him through the process of making plans for his mother every year. This year we hosted because we had to move it to the weekend before because I was away (for my friend’s bachelorette) and my nieces had a dance competition. So I ended up having to make the menu (my husband helped prep and cleaned the house before and after) and working out the logistics (e.g., how to fit 10 people in our dining room, making sure we had plates, utensils, cups etc for 10 people).

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        Ugh. I hear you. One of my friends has a bunch of family obligations this time of year (kids’ bdays etc) then Mother’s Day and her mom always demands some over the top thing from her kids and for the day to be all about her yet 2 of her daughters are also mothers who get…? It just seems so much. My mom has always been low maintenance about it all thankfully. I think she loved it more when we were little and made he crafts tbh.

        • Eh

          May is extremely busy for us (mother’s day, my birthday, my MIL’s birthday, other relative’s birthdays, plus the long weekend, and end of year for Girl Guides). On top of all of that, this year we have two weddings (including me being in one), my brother’s wife is having a baby, and we are both busy at work. May and December (many birthdays plus Christmas, and it’s busy for both of us at work) are our busiest months. In both months we carve out time for just us but it’s really hard because there is a lot of pressure to do things.

  • Totch

    Broader feelings about it aside, I admire my mother deeply for taking Mother’s Day and saying “Oh, this is a day about me? OK, it’s mine then.”

    I have several older siblings so I’m sure she had plenty of days that were whatever-my-dad-could-cook plus kid crafts and family outings. I think zoo trips or dinners out or bouquets are lovely, but none are my mom’s speed.

    My memory of Mother’s Day is that it’s the day we spend getting our garden in order for the Spring/Summer. For her, the ultimate gift was having all of us out in the yard doing chores without it being her job to yell and wrangle and feel like the hard ass. It can be hard to give people love in the form they want, and even harder to ask for it. I really appreciate that she did, and that it stuck. When I talked to my parents this weekend my dad went “it’s roto-rooter day!”

    • GotMarried!

      I love your mom’s attitude. A couple of years ago I was in a season of being overwhelmed with work and my second job teaching etc and could NOT manage to get my house cleaned up. My best friend and boyfriend (now husband) spend my Birthday helping me clean and finish unpacking my house and then brought in dinner. Having that perpetual stresser lifted was the best gift for ME at that time.

  • Kaitlyn

    My relationship with my mom is pretty similar to what Stephanie describes, except we had 6 kids in the home (plus often babysitters and their children) and my mom always seemed to be pushing me to be stronger and more independent and self-sufficient (and useful), while providing more support and understanding (and space to be a child) to the others. I was often treated as a go-to-helper, sometimes more like a co-parent to the other kids than as a child myself. At this point she’s close with my other siblings, but I lack a fundamental level of trust with her and, while we do spend some time together and she is very thoughtful towards me now, I’m really not comfortable with any level of vulnerability around her. Add to that the fact that my own son passed away as a full-term newborn, and Mother’s Day is so difficult for me to get through. I am very proud that I survived (again) this year!

    I have a dog, and the “pet Mother’s Day” thing bothers me extra, since my son died. Yes, I have a dog at home, and not my child. NO, having a dog is not in any way comparable to having my son at home.

  • anon

    Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie. I always struggle with Mother’s Day, and forget that I do until it actually comes, and then am totally blindsided by feels.

    My mom is in my life, is lovely, I love her, I know she loves me, and that she does her best. However, her best doesn’t include emotional intimacy, and never has. Even though I have reconciled with this as reality, a childhood full of extreme emotional isolation leaves some deep feels.

    So when it comes to Mother’s Day, I see all of these posts about how everyone’s Mom is their best friend, she taught them everything they know, where would they be without her…. and it is a sharp reminder of what I always knew I was missing. On the other hand, I feel guilty for not posting something lovely about her, like everyone else. And I feel guilty for finding it hard, since my mom was never abusive or terrible, and she’s still alive, when so many others have lost theirs.

    My husband was so good at comforting me and assuring me that my feelings are valid, but still, I felt like no one understood that weird in-between. Clearly you do, and I appreciate you sharing.

  • Eh

    I have a very complicated relationship with Mother’s Day. My mother passed away when I was a teenager. That time of my life wasn’t the highlight of our relationship. I spent years not celebrating. My dad remarried (when I was an adult) and my step-mom is very understanding about me and my siblings feelings about Mother’s Day (her first husband passed away when her children were teenagers/young adults).

    Then I met my husband and his family makes a huge deal about Mother’s Day because my MIL expects it and Mother’s Day is also close to her birthday. I would attend their celebration but I would sit back. One year she even said that she didn’t want a big deal but then on the Thursday before she asked for a huge party (which her sons and husband had already planned for her).

    So then I had a daughter. I still have a hard time with Mother’s Day. Maybe when my daughter is older and she can make me a present I will feel different. I still think I would want it to be a private affair (e.g., just our family, separate from the big celebration for my MIL). The other thing is my birthday is this weekend (so usually a week or two after Mother’s Day) and I have one rule about my birthday – I have veto for the whole Victoria Day long weekend. So for me it doesn’t matter that my MIL makes Mother’s Day all about her because I make the long weekend about me (which usually means we don’t see my inlaws).

  • mui

    My mom passed many years ago. Mother’s day was hard this past weekend =( I’m thankful for my loving father and step-mother but it’s still hard.

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