Avoiding Disappointment This Mother’s Day

Avoiding Mother's Day Disappointment

It’s our special day this Sunday!

The day when we get fussed over. When someone else makes us breakfast and brings it to us on a tray (even if the cereal has gone soggy and the toast has grown cold). Someone else is worrying about what we’ll eat for lunch and dinner. Someone else will do the dishes.

We’ll get a lovely card from our husband telling us “You’re still the one who stops my heart.” We’ll get lovely handmade cards from the kids. And we’ll get some special presents to open–something that is meant just to pamper us, to say, “we love you, and we appreciate you, and we want you to relax.”

After all, it’s Mother’s Day.

Commercials tell us that we’ll get flowers, and chocolates, and pampering, and kisses.

But what if we don’t?

What if we wake up on Mother’s Day and no one is whispering at us to stay in bed so that we can await our breakfast? What if people are yelling about, “what is there to eat?”, and “where’s my other shoe?”, and “Johnny’s bugging me.”

What if there is no present? What if all that’s awaiting us is a gift card to Starbucks, if we’re lucky?

Have you ever dealt with the Mother’s Day disappointment?

You try to tell yourself it won’t matter if they forget this year. You try to tell yourself, “I know they love me, even if they don’t show it well.” But deep inside you’re just tired of being taken for granted.

I understand. I’m not really a gift person, as I share in my column tomorrow, but I do want to at least be remembered. I love the homemade cards with the long testimony of how much I mean to those I love.

And I haven’t always received it. It’s not because my family doesn’t care; it’s just that they know I’m not a gift person, so they don’t always remember that it does matter. And because I’m usually the one responsible for reminding my kids to get presents (or at least I was when they were younger), when it’s something involving me my husband doesn’t always make them do it. He gets a card himself, but he doesn’t necessarily put the boot to them and make them get something.

This can be especially difficult if in your daily life you often feel like the one taken for granted–the one who does everything to care for the family, often with little thanks. On the one day we are supposed to be thanked, they can still forget.

Now maybe you have a husband who’s very sensitive to Mother’s Day protocol, and this isn’t an issue for you. But for those moms for whom Mother’s Day often brings disappointment, I want to offer some thoughts to perhaps help it to go more smoothly this time:

1. Spell Out What You Need

Seriously. Just tell them. Every year, about three days before Mother’s Day, I say to my girls, “I don’t want you to spend money on me this year. I simply want a letter–a LONG letter (at least a page and a half) talking about our relationship and your favourite memories and what you love about me.” And that’s what I get!

On the occasions when there’s something relatively small that I do actually want or need, I’ll spell that out, too. “Honey, I need some silver hoop earrings. I would love to get some silver hoop earrings for Mother’s Day.”

I also have taken to creating a Wish List on Amazon of books that I’d like, and keeping a file that our family shares of gift ideas that I would like. You can create such a file and keep it in your family’s “Cloud”, or keep it in Google Docs and share it with everyone. Then they can upload gift ideas, too!

2. Don’t Expect Them to Read Your Mind

Avoiding Mother's Day Disappointment

I can already hear the complaints about #1. “But they should just KNOW what I need.” “They should love me enough to do it for me without having to be told.” “They shouldn’t mind having to think of a nice gift.”

But are those expectations realistic and fair?

I’m sure if you were to ask your children what is absolutely most important to them that you do, you may find areas where you have disappointed them, because you don’t value something that they do. My youngest daughter takes skating lessons for fun, and she likes me to come and watch. But she takes them right over the hour when I need to be getting dinner ready, so I don’t go often. I watch her so much at the other competitive things she does, and I’m with her all day (we homeschool), so to me it doesn’t seem like a big deal to take off for an hour and a half and get dinner while she skates. But that matters to her.

My husband likes it if I take Saturday mornings and go for a walk or go bird watching with him. That really matters to him. But sometimes on Saturdays I make other plans because that’s the only day I have to do certain things. And I know that I disappoint him, but I figure he should understand how important my other plans are, too.

We disappoint people.

It is not just that your family can disappoint you; you likely disappoint your family as well.

That’s not meant to make you feel guilty; it’s just that you are all different people, and so different things matter to you. That’s what it means to be an individual! And expecting them to read your mind and to value things to the same extent you do is not fair.

If you really, really want a specific thing this year, tell them. It may seem less romantic, but it’s also leaving far less room for disappointment!

3. Be Grateful for What You Have

Seriously. If you’re a mom, rejoice. You have the incredible privilege of having people who are intricately linked to you–who will love you forever. That is a beautiful thing. Will they always do the right thing? Nope. Will your husband always do the right thing? Nope. But why not practice gratitude and just have fun with them this Sunday, even if you all have to pitch in and make dinner together.

4. Practice Fostering More Respect

Avoiding Mother's Day Disappointment

Finally, here’s an important one. Sometimes Mother’s Day takes on a huge significance because the rest of the year is definitely NOT Mother’s Day. Every other day of the year you do everything for everyone else. You put your own dreams and goals on hold so that you can chauffeur your son to hockey. You spend every waking moment catering to your kids so that their lives are smooth, and full of all the wonderful things and activities you only dreamed of when you were growing up.

And no one says thank you, because you’ve taught them that it is normal for mothers to wait on them hand and foot.

You’ve taught them that mothers are supposed to have no life outside of their kids; that mothers are supposed to clean up after them.

You’ve reinforced the fact that you will be there to tidy their messes and pick up behind them.

I know not every mom does this, but an amazing number do. And ladies, if you have done this, I know  you did it out of love. I know you sacrificed your own time and hobbies so that your kids could have the best. But here’s the thing: they didn’t ask you to. You did it on your own.

And now you want them to recognize it, even though you’ve raised them to think this is natural.

If you’re frustrated with your life, and feeling taken for granted, Mother’s Day can’t make up for that.

Perhaps we’re putting too much on what little day. Perhaps what we really need to do is to take a good look at our lives and ask ourselves, “am I raising kids who are respectful and grateful and helpful and compassionate? Or am I raising kids who expect others to do things for them?”

I know that’s a hard question, but it’s one really worth asking. Maybe this year, Mother’s Day can be your trigger to change the way you do life so that you aren’t always exhausted. It really is okay to say no to your kids. It really is okay to carve out time in your schedule for yourself. It really is okay to teach your kids to do chores so that you aren’t the only one cleaning up.

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate moms–so celebrate! Celebrate the fact that you’re a mom. Celebrate your family. Let this be a day that you re-evaluate and you make sure that you’re the kind of mom YOU want to be. And don’t expect other people to read your mind. Maybe if we did that, we wouldn’t be in for so much disappointment on Sunday morning.

To Love, Honor and VacuumIf you can’t picture what it would look like to raise kids who did think of you and who didn’t take you for granted, that’s what To Love, Honor and Vacuum–the book–is for! For everyone who feels more like a maid than a wife and a mother, this book helps you think about family life in a different way. It’s not about raising kids–it’s about raising future adults who are responsible, independent, and compassionate. And that means we moms can stop doing everything for everybody!

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!


  1. I had to laugh when I read this wonderful reminder about Mother’s Day, because it took me back to a particular Mother’s Day about 5 years ago…my kids were 2 and 3. My husband was working 3rd shift, so he came home and went straight to bed…my kids were being very ornery this morning, and I had to cook, clean, get them up and ready, and myself up and ready, and took them to church…everything that could go wrong went wrong that day! so i was feeling very sorry for myself. We went over to my parents’ house for lunch and decided to take pictures….when it was my turn to have my Mother’s Day picture with my kids….they were bawling and both trying to get down to go play….and my dad snapped the picture anyway…..I was so mad, feeling unloved, disrespected, etc……But my parents were just laughing…welcome to motherhood, it is nothing like on the commercials and Hallmark cards!!! LOL….so now I look at that picture sometimes with my fake smile and my kids clearly crying and just laugh…HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!! 😉

  2. That is sad. I don’t think you were feeling sorry for yourself at all. I think it’s notice to expect a hand written letter or breakfast in bed. Doesn’t have to cost anything. Growing up I used to pick flowers all morning for my mother. Made her breakfast and I never had a thank you. Some things are not ok.

    • I don’t feel it’s sad….I was sad at the moment (frustrated, mad, exhausted), but now I have a horrible picture taken by my dad (who is now in Heaven) and it brings me laughter. It really serves as a reminder that Mother’s Day is sooooo much more than that picture perfect moment they show on TV….This is real life…..this is what Mom’s do…we get up early, clean up poop and puke and cook breakfast and fake smile in pictures when our kids are crying! Not always, but I’m sure you get my drift…It’s not all rainbows and butterflies and when we let down those expectations of perfection, we can laugh….and that makes life beautiful….memories…imperfect ones at that, and allowing ourselves to laugh at them and move on! 😉
      I look forward to Mother’s Day this year especially. My kids are now 7 and 8 and have been helping my husband build me something. I have NO clue what it is…but they are so excited about it and can’t wait to give it to me….I joke with them that I’m going to peak and they start waving their hands running toward the garage saying No! No! don’t peak!!! lol….another moment I will look back on and laugh. I don’t even care what the gift is…just the fact that they care so much about me to make me something….I am truly blessed!

      • you have to share what they built you!

        • Hey Kate! Oh goodness…what a sweet surprise I received yesterday. They built me a bench…I wish I had the picture to upload…and my sweet husband traced their handprints on the seat and they signed their names and put ‘I love you Mommy!’ and the year…..then he used the woodburner to trace what they wrote so it never fades… and it was just so precious that they thought that much of me to put so much thought and energy into that. This will be something I’ll keep forever!!! They helped (with my husband’s help and supervision of course) with the sanding, nailing, and some cutting. They were so proud of the work they did! And I am too :)

          • That’s so precious! When my kids were 2 and 4 I was painting a shelf one day, and Becca wandered in and accidentally touched it. I got all angry at her (since I had told her not to touch while Mommy painted), but then I looked down and there was this perfect, cute handprint. So I had Katie come over and asked them both to put handprints all over it. They had marvelous fun, and we still have the shelf! We took it with us when we moved out of our last house. Becca has it up in her room now.

  3. My biggest disappointment came from feeling like others had to be celebrated at my expense. My husband was so focused on making time for both of our mothers (especially his own*cough*recoveringmamasboy*coughcough*) that I felt like I didn’t matter. Oh man, we had some knock-down-drag-outs over it! He always went straight to the extreme of guilt-tripping me – “Why don’t you want to honor our moms on Mother’s Day???” Oh it made me so mad! Because that wasn’t what I was saying at all! All I wanted was to have a little bit of time with my husband and kids and not spend the ENTIRE day running from church to one house to another house only to crash at home just in time for the kids to go to bed. We finally got over the communication hurdle eventually and now we’re living with a happier medium for Mother’s Day. He considers my needs first instead of worrying so much about others expectations. :-)
    Melissa recently posted…A Tense NightMy Profile

  4. This is great! I try hard not to have expectations. I am a gifts person, but my sweet husband is not. Plus we don’t have any extra money right now. I’m going to decide to roll with the punches!

    And I love your point about respectful, appreciative kids. I’m going to work on this!
    Megan G. recently posted…Home Study – Check!My Profile

  5. We always take a trip in nature and have a picnic. Because college and retirement is expensive. Since we both had Very abusive moms.. We sent small gifts.

  6. ButterflyWings says:

    I don’t get disappointed. It’s just another day like Christmas and my birthday that nobody remembers and no one bothers giving me anything.

    Mother’s Day was just another excuse for my first husband to bash me as his mother had passed away when he was 18. After we separated, it was just a reminder that I was totally alone. My own mother being abusive and my daughter’s special needs meaning she wouldn’t spontaneously ever do anything.

    And while this will be my first Mother’s Day with my second husband, he doesn’t bother with Christmas or my birthday so I can’t see him bothering with something generic like Mother’s Day.

    But I won’t be disappointed because I’ve never known anything else. I’m just happy simply knowing that I am a mother.

  7. I want to echo your “If you’re a Mom, rejoice.” All I ever wanted when I was a teenager was to grow up to be a wife and mom. I didn’t marry until 33, and we finally adopted our first and only child when I was 39. As much as I tried to not feel sad on those pre-motherhood mother’s days, there were some hard ones now and then. I found comfort in Christ, in enjoying womanhood, in being grateful for my own mother, but some years brought very tearful mother’s days. Now I love Mother’s Day! My spouse hasn’t had a lot of energy to really make a big fuss, but it’s okay. I am so thrilled and grateful to be a mom!

    Really, let us rejoice in the gift of motherhood, because there are many women who long for it and have great heartaches every day because they are not blessed with children.

  8. I got my mom a beautiful, soft, knee-length and sleeveless gown that is a really pretty color. It will look great on her. I also got her a pretty bra and panty. She doesn’t typically spend money on herself so I try to give those things as gifts. She loves stuff like that, she just usually won’t splurge for it! Not that I had money to splurge – I kind of spent some gas and grocery money but I’m hoping it will be ok!

    • Not being a mom, I can’t comment on that, but I know my mom felt that way many times over the years. My dad and us kids were selfish, and she did everything. Fortunately as we have gotten older, we have realized everything Mom has done and appreciate it and give back to her! (Cleaning and cooking and house projects and yard mowing, not just material gifts. :) )

  9. I agree. It is wise to be grateful to be a mom but it still doesn’t mean you should discount your feelings if others are being indifferent to you on a day that is yours. I don’t believe in this maytar stance… I think it’s denial and act of feeling superior to others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling hurt if every single event… From a birthday to a wedding anniversary to Mother’s Day is ignored! Really? Humans have feelings. I feel thus article discounts that to some degree and I don’t agree.

    • Mimi–I think the key, though, is to tell your family what you want. Make it crystal clear. I’m just saying that we can’t expect them to do something specific if we don’t let them know.

      But let’s look at the other side for a moment. Let’s say that you DO let them know. You DO tell them everything you expect. And then something still doesn’t happen.

      Now what should you do?

      Certainly communicate your disappointment with your spouse and your kids (if they’re old enough). But staying mad and hurt is not going to help. Instead, start looking at how you’re organizing the family. Do you do everything for them and ask little in return? Are you pouring yourself completely out for your kids, so that they don’t understand how to express gratitude? Are there ways that you can change the way you’re operating in the family so that this is less likely to happen?

      All I’m saying is that holding on to anger and hurt aren’t helpful. Avoid them by telling your family; and if that doesn’t work, look at how you can change what you do so that your home is not one where you really do do everything, while very little is expected of them.

      • ButterflyWings says:

        I’m at a loss because I’ve specified clearly with my husband about things and communicated my disappointment. It’s not with gifts – he doesn’t bother and as much as I’ve told him I like gifts (and have shown him things – my best friend thought she’d try to help recently by outright telling him what I’d like for my birthday although I could have told her not to bother – I’ve told him the last two christmases and last birthday it was what I wanted – something cheap but pretty and with meaning – and he hasn’t. Her telling him won’t even register in his mind.

        But like I tell my daughter when she asks what I want for mothers day (I just tell her all I want is for her to be good for the day), I just tell my husband what matters to me is basic respect – telling me when he’s not going to be home for dinner so my daughter and I aren’t waiting with our food long gone cold, all because he can’t be bothered picking up the phone to let us know. Or telling me when he’s randomly decided to go out for the day (instead of just, sometimes literally in the middle of a conversation, him getting up and leaving the room and when I go looking for him, hearing the car pull out) with his phone off. Not because he’s in a bad mood or had plans, but just because he “felt like it”. All I want as a gift is just for him to stop acting like a single man who does as he pleases whenever he pleases, and for him to start acting like he has a wife – to not walk off randomly in the middle of a conversation, to not just randomly take off for the day without even saying goodbye, to not just blow off plans like dinner without calling to let me know and so on.

        I’ve repeatedly told him I’m not here to tell him what to do. He can do anything at all he wants, but that I need to know so I’m not just wasting day in and day out literally sitting around unable to do anything at all because I’m waiting for him and can’t make plans without knowing what he’s doing

        • ButterflyWings, it sounds like you are in a difficult situation. Since you know your husband’s behavior patterns and it seems unlikely that telling him about your dissatisfaction is changing him, perhaps it would help you to do something a little bit differently. Instead of sitting around unable to do anything because you believe you need to know what he’s doing before you can make plans, why not simply go ahead and make plans anyway. Make plans that have room for him, but assume he probably won’t be available. That way you can go ahead and do whatever you have planned, with or without him. If he wants to join you – wonderful! If he decides he feels like going off on his own, you can still go ahead with your plan. You can tell him, “Dinner will be ready at 6:30, and it will be great if you can join us then.” If he shows up on time, great! If he isn’t there, you and your daughter can go ahead and eat your dinners. Wrap his up neatly so it can be reheated for him when he gets home. You can tell him, “Our daughter is taking me out to lunch for my birthday, and you’re invited. It will be 12:30 at Mimi’s.” Be at Mimi’s at 12:30. Order lunch and enjoy it. If he shows up to eat with you, enjoy it even more. Please do this for your daughter’s sake so she doesn’t grow up believing that it’s okay to passively accept emotional abuse. Do it for your husband’s sake so he has the opportunity to see things differently, too. Do it for your own sake so that you can stop feeling stuck with things as they are.
          Rosemary recently posted…Let Him Eat CakeMy Profile

          • Excellent suggestions!

          • ButterflyWings says:

            Rosemary thanks but sadly I’ve tried all that and it’s a little more complicated.

            I’ve done things like told him I’m making dinner and that we’ll eat without him if he doesn’t let me know he’s working back late but that I’ll put it aside for him to reheat when he gets home,but it feels like I can’t win. At least half the time he’ll pick up something on the way home and literally throw out what I’ve made for him (not even leave it for leftovers for any of us to eat for lunch the next day – just throw it in the bin) but if I don’t leave something for him, the half the time he does want something, he gets really hurt (not angry or aggressive but just really sad and depressed). We’re struggling with money so him throwing out half the meals I make is literally causing us problems.

            And going out without him isn’t simple. There are two problems – I have health problems and I quite simply can’t go out without him some days – I need him to drive. And the other problem is I’m new where to we are living (moved interstate when we got married) and the outings to hang out and meet his friends, just don’t happen when he blows them off. It’s not that his friends aren’t nice – they all seem very nice people – but that’s the problem, they are also sensitive people. If I go without him, they can’t hide their hurt and disappointment that a near total stranger (me) will hang out with them, and a person they’ve known for several years (and when we’re back in our hometown, people he’s known for literally decades) they can’t understand why he’d just blow off hanging out with them. But yeah, it’s mainly a practical thing – sometimes I need him to drive, and other times I simply need him to watch our daughter as I can’t go out and leave her alone. He has no problems with babysitting – he is more than happy to sit beside her playing computer games for hours – often they don’t notice I’m even gone. But it’s when he knows I have important appointments and he is needed to watch our daughter, and then he just takes off, doesn’t tell me he’s going, doesn’t tell me where he’ll be or how to get in contact with him, and I literally know of no one who can babysit for – not even in an emergency.

            I’m at a loss because we’ve been trying counselling for months and the counsellor just dismisses our issues. Hubby has finally agreed to go see another counsellor, but he insists on choosing the counsellor and he insists on booking it – and he quite simply hasn’t bothered. He tried accusing me last night of never telling him I wanted him to, but it’s just more evidence of the underlying problem – I have asked numerous times (not nagging, but like once a week) if he’s had a chance to book the counsellor yet and asked if he’d like me to do it for him, and this has been a 3 month long thing – so I’d say it’s approx 20 times I’ve asked him to do it. And yet he stubbornly insists I have never, not once, asked him to. I’m beginning to wonder if he has a deeper cognition problem other than just aspergers, because I can say to him upfront “I’m about to say something really important and I need you to listen and not forget this” and then say it, and less than five minutes later he’ll claim I never said anything to him and I know he’s not lying (it’s one of his most stubborn features – he’ll say incredibly hurtful things to people if he believes they are true and won’t tell even a white lie to spare people’s feelings).

            He just honestly does not listen to me, doesn’t absorb anything I say, and while that in itself is annoying, the real problem is even when he has forgotten what I’ve said, he doesn’t stop to think of me before doing things. Like I can understand if he’s forgotten I have an important medical appointment or a job interview and that I needed him to babysit (even when I’ve reminded him a dozen times), but it’s the fact he just disappears, doesn’t say goodbye, doesn’t say he’s leaving at all, just leaves when I’m in another room and don’t notice until it’s time for me to leave and I see his car is gone – it’s not even that he forgets important things I’ve reminded him of many times – it’s that he doesn’t say before he leaves “hey honey is there anything important you needed me for today” or even has the manners to say goodbye.

            We’ve had a few really tough times lately when he has done this literally when I’ve been grabbing a few things to leave myself, and in the five minutes it’s taken me to get ready to leave, he’s disappeared and even if I knew a babysitter, by the time I could drop my daughter off, I’d have already missed my appointment or interview – and particularly specialist appointments here can take months to get another – and it’s really bad for job interviews because they see a person as unreliable if you say “oh sorry my hubby just took off five minutes before I was due to leave and it was too late to get a sitter”.

            I’m at a crossroads- I know it’s emotional abuse, and I know where emotional abuse leads. I’m not willing to put up with another abusive husband but at the same time I’m at a total loss. For all his failings, my first husband KNEW he was abusive. He was an incredibly violent, cheating, drug addict, but he knew what he was doing was wrong (when he wasn’t to high on drugs and out of touch with reality, diagnosably psychotic). But my second husband insists there is nothing wrong with his behaviour. He has few friends (because he has no social skills and is accidently quite rude) but he doesn’t care – he’s a loner and wouldn’t care if he had no friends. His family tolerate it and say nothing – and just tell themselves “oh it’s just a normal part of aspergers and nothing can be done about it”. Which annoys me because it’s not true. Yes he has aspergers, but how he acts isn’t normal for someone with aspergers – other people with aspergers acknowledge they have social deficits and listen when people tell them their behaviour is rude and hurtful. My husband just insists everyone else is wrong, and that nothing is wrong with his behaviour – that the problem lies with everyone else, and if they are hurt, then they are the messed up ones because they have no right to be hurt. So it’s unsurprising he has few friends – but he can’t see that. He just thinks he chooses to have few friends and doesn’t see all the people he alienates.

            And I’m so tired of making excuses for his behaviour. Even going to church and bible study is painful because I’m constantly trying to repair the trail of hurt feelings he leaves behind him. His church/bible study friends are lovely people and they do understand he has aspergers and have tried to make allowances for it, but he can just be so very rude and while they try to hide their hurt, I can see it – because I try to hide my own hurt, others hurt is unmissable to me.

            Going to see a counsellor is failing because he keeps insisting to the counsellor our problem is “communication” and when asked what that means, he claims I don’t tell him things when the truth is I can tell him a hundred times and he just doesn’t listen and then says I never told him. The problem isn’t communication,it’s just that he doesn’t respect me. He doesn’t respect anything I say – it just goes in one ear and out the other – and he doesn’t respect me as a wife and doesn’t respect me as a human being. I know he’s not doing it on purpose – what he needs is therapy similar to what my daughter had when she first started school – therapy about basic social skills. like when you’re talking to someone, you don’t turn you back on them and start playing computer games while they’re pouring out their heart to you. things like you don’t just walk off in the middle of a conversation because you thought of something more fun to do. things like you don’t tell someone you’re going to do something, and then just not bother showing up and not calling to let them know (he’s left his church without a tech guy multiple times after putting himself on the roster and then not bothering going to church and not bothering to call to say he wasn’t going). that when you have a wife, you don’t just disappear after you and your wife had made plans to do things, especially important plans. and so on.

            He honestly does not see that any of those are rude. he thinks that’s how you treat people and if anyone feels bothered by it, they are messed up and they need “help”.

            going to a counsellor is failing because he’s not honest with the counsellor about the real situation – he’s not being dishonest, because he’s telling the truth according to how he sees it, but the problem is what he sees isn’t reality. and I don’t know how to deal with it anymore.

            everyone around me can see how damaging this is to me, except him. but I’m at a loss as to what to do. I want to get away for a few days just to basically recover but I can’t even do that because I have no one within a thousand miles to turn to. my best friend can see I’m at the point where I’m clinically depressed despite taking medication to try not to be and has begged me to go stay with her for a few days, but I have no one here to get my daughter to school if I did and my husband’s work doesn’t allow him to be able to do that.

            I know he’s being emotionally abusive, but what can you do about someone who is emotionally abusive but insists they are doing nothing wrong and you are “abusing” them by gently, kindly telling them their behaviour is not acceptable?

  10. I wasn’t speaking about myself. My family and I celebrate without money because we have things to save up for. I do agree that you should not hold in anger and express your needs. And often times people do but the disrespect still remains. And that is not ok. Ever.

    • Mimi, although I can’t speak for anyone, it seems from what Sheila has said (and what I’ve read in other articles she’s written) that she knows that it’s not ok. And she knows that it’s hurtful. She even talked in her article about being hurt by things like that, so I don’t think she’s discounting it at all. (Also, she has a little thing at the top of her blog that says “When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother,” so I think she understands!) But it’s only harmful to us when we hold on to resentment, and there are better ways of dealing with those situations so that we can be happy.

  11. It’s nice to give but I also don’t believe gifts should come with a price tag. It’s something you do as something nice. It’s a gift. I had many issues in the past about accepting gifts or favors cause they came with a unspoken rule. Now you owe me. I seldom accept gifts unless I know there is not hidden agenda. You shouldn’t have to feel obligated to give either. Even your parents. Its one thing to do something nice and yet another to give give give because you feel you must.
    I been there and I had to free myself out of the unhealthy trappings of expectations.

    • Oh, nothing I give ever comes with the idea that they now owe me. I have no idea why you would think that. I love giving – I love giving to people I know, I love giving to people I don’t know – because it gives ME such a sense of joy. That is my satisfaction. I feel so elated thinking about giving someone something that I know they’ll love. I’m always giddy about it, almost as if I’m the one receiving something – I can’t wait for them to open their presents! That’s why I like Operation Christmas Child. No expectation of something in return. It just makes me happy to give. I really am at a loss as to why you would think that at all. Also, I don’t feel obligated to give. I just enjoy it.

  12. My Dad’s mother just passed away in march- a woman I was very much close with. It really hit home when she passed away and has made me realize how incredibly blessed I am to still have my Mom here on earth with me. I’ve never been too into Mother’s Day, really. I’m not exactly sure why. But I realize now that I’m a mom, how special it would be to receive a loving note or gift from my daughter. I feel a little guilty that I wasn’t more gracious towards Mom on all these special days, so this year I’m trying to give her special things from my heart…

    As far as my Mother’s Day is concerned, it’s all about my Mom. It would be sweet to be treated especially kindly by my family, but I don’t have wildly high expectations of that. I may ask for a kind letter, like you mentioned. That would be very sweet and something I’d value. But really, since I still have a mother to love, I’m going to focus on her while I have the chance.
    Carrie recently posted…How to Transition Your Child to One Nap a DayMy Profile

  13. Jenny…
    I was speaking in general terms. Sorry if you felt it was all about you. It wasn’t. The concept of gift giving is something I personally dislike due to my experiences. I just see people using this as a way to control someone. It’s just a thought. That is one reason why we are not into material gifts in our home.
    We love spending the day in nature. In a cold creek sitting on rocks eating our healthy stash of cold water and trail mix. Listening to the birds and just enjoying nature and each others company.

    • My mistake. It felt as though your condemnation was pointed at me, as I was the only one who mentioned buying a gift for my mom.

      Of course family time is the most important thing.

  14. I let go of having the perfect Mother’s Day a few years back. I typically get breakfast in bed but that is something I definitely had to ask for – now it’s a tradition. I also requested that I plan nothing for that day, I don’t cook and daddy’s on full duty – even making the reservations for dinner and coordinating plans with our extended family. I was able to shift my focus on honoring my mother and mother-in-law instead of me which has helped. BTW, I do have a Pinterest board with GIFTS on have logged my husband into my account on his iPad so he can periodically check what I like. I yet to receive any gifts that way…but it is place, just in case.
    Kimberly Amici recently posted…To Believe or Not to Believe…?My Profile

  15. Moogle says:

    Oh Sheila, everything you say is so true! More often than not, I am left feeling disappointed on Mother’s Day, my b-day and other significant holidays… I’ll even tell my kids (now 10 amd 13) that they have a whole week to make me a nice card and/or craft and yet, they often forget. And hubby? He gets me really odd gifts… Things he’s so sure I’ll love and I’m sitting there going “what the…”! I’ve learned to laugh at that one, it’s part of his charm, but it does hurt to not get anything from the kids, and you are left feeling unappreciated. Your post helps me put things in lersoectibpve though.

  16. No problem!
    This subject brings up alot for me. Sadly, the abuse I endured from my estranged mother and the abuse my husband suffered from his late mom… Which has almost ruined our marriage and sex life.
    What peple don’t realize is that mothers dad is not always a happy special day for some people and it never will be. Some live with the pain of the effects of abuse. The reality of what it does to a person and how it ruins lives.
    And please don’t preach to me about how god heals cause he doesn’t always heal everyone.
    Some of us have to try to find the happiness we can get by focusing on other things. I focus on bring a mom and knowing I broke the cycle of abuse.
    Makes me smile… Makes me happy knowing she is a strong independent person and that I am her mother;)

  17. I can agree with the don’t expect them to read your mind as i do this in general with most people. I get really disappointed with somebody when they can’t read my mind so i need to work on fostering more respect
    Tulisa recently posted…Melt Your Man’s Heart Review – Can You Really Get Your Ex Back?My Profile

  18. berjiboo says:

    Perhaps my kids are just too young (6,5,3) but I don’t put a lot of stock in Mother’s Day. I know that if they do anything it is b/c my husband told them to. On occasion my eldest has spontaneously told me she loves me or makes a card for me or tells me I”m a queen. That is more meaningful. My middle child does not love me (he has attachment disorder) so if we can get through a peaceful day with him that is more restful.
    I think at this stage of my life the most encouraging thing would be to have my husband write a letter or card telling me he thinks I”m doing a good job with his kids. But I will always accept being taken out for dinner! :)
    We try to focus it more on our mothers but they live across the globe and across the country so a card or phone call is about it.

  19. Growing up Mother’s Day was a big deal so I was really disappointed my first Mother’s Day when my husband completely ignored it (obviously my son was way to young to know what was going on). I’ve never expected anything on Mother’s Day since then and have been ok with that. But last year it was just awful. My husband was rude and had an attitude all day (which is extremely rare). He would say things like “Happy Mother’s Day. That’s all you get.” and “It’s Mother’s Day which means you have to prove what a good mother you are.” I was so shocked and hurt by his disrespect. My kids (who were 2 and 1) ended up having the flu so we had to stay home the entire day. My husband refused to stay home and went to his Grandmother’s where his family was having a big celebration. He was gone all day and I spent my day cleaning up puke. When he came home I refused to speak to him. All of a sudden he begged me for forgiveness and apologized for how rude and unloving he was. He said he didn’t know why he acted like such a jerk. I’m kind of nervous that this Mother’s Day we’ll have a repeat of last year.

  20. Yvonne says:

    Excellent reminder! Thank you for the great article, I’ve often found myself disappointed, but know that my expectations are what the world has told me to expect. My Father tells me to be content in what {and who} I have and to treat others more highly than myself. Happy Mothers Day!

  21. I am TOTALLY a gift person and my husband KNOWS this! On one of my first Mother’s Days he didn’t even bother to get me a card let alone a gift! His response was,”You’re not MY mother”. Umm…I’m the mother to YOUR son and hes only 2 and can’t drive himself to the store to get me a gift, because he TOTALLY would if he were capable of doing so! Mothers Day also falls around our wedding anniversary, occasionally, they’ll be the SAME day! Last year I got a combo Mothers Day/Anniversary gift and no card for either occasion. I LOVE cards! I’ve saved all the cards from when we first started dating. I have all my birthday cards from my Sweet Sixteen party, Wedding shower, Wedding and baby showers.

    Our son is now 9. Hubby got the message that I like gifts. Last year I got a new Pandora charm for my bracelet and I imagine I’ll get the same this year. I already told him which one I wanted! lol

  22. V. Berg says:

    Lowering expectations was a huge step for my own happiness on Mother’s Day. My husband is a wonderful man and we have raised four children together. I began to realize that the other 364 days of the year are the days I am thankful for instead of expectations for one (Mother’s Day) day a year. I remind myself that I have good relationships with all four grown children, am respected in their conversations and manners. My memories are my greatest gifts. They will become more sensitive as they become parents and realize the work and commitment that comes with parenthood. I hope to hear from each of my children on Mother’s Day but do not expect it nor will I hope they give a special gift unless they desire to do so.. I appreciate them all the other days of the year when they demonstrate their thoughtfulness. I would rather be treated well those days than to be remembered ONE day a year because the calendar and card companies say so. I am blessed.

  23. Great article. As always you say it perfectly!

    May I offer another suggestion of a great Mother’s day gift; http://www.thefreedomclimb.net/honor-our-mothers

    My amazing friend Marleen took part in the Freedom Climb this year and it’s helped me to become more aware of how much suffering there is among women all over the world. Blessing other moms and girls is what would make my Mother’s day!

  24. Yay! I am constantly telling people that having expectations and not letting other people know what they are is silly. Thank you for pointing that out! I also feel very strongly that Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) is not a holiday/present giving event between spouses. I know other people feel differently, and I certainly help my kids with their decisions, but I am not my spouse’s Mother and I don’t expect him to give me a gift! I am the mother of his children, but I don’t see Mother’s Day as the time for him to give me a present as such. (Insert Father’s Day where appropriate!)

  25. What seems silly to me is that you would have to outline exactly what you would want from people who know and hopefully live and respect you enough to do something! I mean really… If I had to spell it out and thankfully I don’t since we don’t buy gifts but take day trips and pack a picnic… Which we prefer… Then I would rather not have anything. In other words… If I had to bring it up… Well… Why bother.
    Everyone knows who has a brain… It’s Mother’s Day.. Make a card.. Buy one or call to say hello. It doesn’t have to be elaborate and if you expect that… Then it’s really your problem. Not others.

  26. Respect… Love is shown through our actions. And how we treat people. I been in abusive situations growing up thinking it was godly to accept things that weren’t ok. So I can’t go backwards… Only forward.

  27. kizmogirl says:

    I am stuck a but feeling sad. Not even 1 of my 4 kids (17yrs, 15yrs, 13yrs, 11yrs) said anything about Mother’s Day. My husband left & went fishing all day. Finally @ 7pm, I got my purse & took myself to get some ice cream & grocery shop on the way home. No one said a word. I think they are old enuff to remember to say it. At least one of them. I’ll get over it, but geez!

  28. This past Sunday was my 1st ever Mother’s Day. I was blessed with a precious daughter last fall, 2 days before my 39th birthday. So, I have waited almost 40 years & over 16 years of marriage to be a mom, because of miscarriages and health issues.

    I spent last Friday running around in the rain with a 7 month old to buy “something nice” for his mother and older sister, as we were getting together with them after my DH got off of work on Saturday. I also baked a dessert to take with us, as DH didn’t want to show up “empty-handed”. We had a nice visit, they liked their gifts and they presented me with cards and tulips. It was very sweet.

    Sunday morning, my DH took me out to breakfast as he doesn’t cook, and we just ended up going to our usual spot when I don’t want to cook. That afternoon, we spent time with my family. (I didn’t get to participate in our church’s activities that morning, as my family lives an hour away and we had to start our drive when church began.) After that, we picked up burgers and went home. That was it. That was my 1st Mother’s Day. DH didn’t get me a card, flowers, a gift…nothing. For my 1st ever Mother’s Day. I was disappointed and hurt. When I mentioned on Monday that I never got anything, in a frustrated voice he said “I’ll go get you something! I just didn’t have time as I had to work long hours this week!!” My response: Why bother now?!?! It’s over and done!! I’ll never get another 1st Mother’s Day again!

    Tuesday night, I told him how I felt. I told him that I waited almost 40 years to be a mom and Sunday should have been special for ME!! HIS mother has already had 40+ Mother’s Days!! In this day and age, when we have the ablity to order things on the internet and have it delivered to anywhere in the world, and do it on our phones too (which he’s on all the freaking time!!), there was no excuse not to have made an effort. AND, why did he bother asking me specifically what I wanted if he was just going to flake out on me? He agreed, he messed up. Apology, not much of one. I told him that what he did and his attitude was just plain “sh&%ty”.

    I feel so insignificant to him. Even though I told him my point of view, I still feel so hurt, I find myself crying. I am having a hard time getting over this slight.

    Disappointment? Yeah, I felt that, and so much more. Starting off motherhood with a bang!

  29. Pamela Puskarich says:

    I want to say this gently, respectfully and with understanding. I’m sure it must be very frustrating. And you have a right to feel disappointed. But “appreciate what you do have” is very important here. You have every right to be disappointed and it is understandable and normal and human. But there are also so many of us out there who wanted children desperately or who have had only miscarriages who would be happy to have children to have to remind on mother’s day. and some of us would be thrilled with a starbucks gift card.

  30. I am disappointed. I wasn’t cryptic or even had expectations, but his respect and love towards me was spelled out quite clearly and it is NOT as Christ loves the church. My own darned fault. I settled when I married him. I sinned when I married him (I was saved, he was not, though he is now). In so many many ways he shows preference to himself above me and I am sad that I find myself daydreaming about a life apart from him. I fight hard and pray hard to be a great, loving, respectful, honoring and considerate wife. I have NEVER refused him in bed and am enthusiastic and adventerous. He’s the gatekeeper and has told me he dislikes giving me pleasure. I am at my wits’ end. Counseling? He just nods his head and says the right things. I wanted to enjoy growing old together and now I just feel stuck.

  31. Tiffany says:

    All great points IF your husband even recognizes the day as a holiday. Mine doesn’t. Supposedly it was made up to get people to buy stuff. Or something like that. Sometimes I get dinner out ..with the kids and all the frustration that that scene (my boys are 5,3,2, and 1) entails. But it’s mostly or of obligation. His mom was always very unpleasant on Mother’s Day, and now I am reaping that. Trying to find my worth in Jesus this year and know that He sees. But it’s not easy.

  32. I know while my kids are small,there will be no gifts,my husband never gets me anything on mothers day.But I don’t let that upset me,I am used to it,my bday are forgotten also.I am different thou,I always get gifts from kids on fathers day,and bday for him.Some people dont think its a big deal,so they don’t do anything for “special days”

  33. Mom of 4 says:

    I was a mother for eight years before I got so much as a happy Mother’s Day. No card, no gift, not a word from him that the day even existed. Same thing for my birthday, Valentine’s day, our anniversary, etc. But don’t I dare ever forget Father’s Day or his birthday. If I don’t do enough on those days he lets me know. There was a massive double standard which I pointed out over and over. Every year I would tell him that all I wanted was an acknowledgment that the day meant something just say happy mothers day or happy birthday, no need to spend time or money on a card or gift. For eight years I waited, hoped, and wondered. And finally I got a happy mothers day from him. It has taken him a long time to transition from the mindset of a single man (he was in his mid 30’s when we got married) to married man with four children. After 17 years of marriage and lots of ups and even more downs he finally knows that when he acknowledges me at his wife and mother to his kids I am much happier which makes our relationship better.

  34. Heather dela Cruz says:

    My view from a completely different perspective:

    I am not a mother. I would love to be more than anything else in the entire world, but my body simply will not cooperate. Infertility + mother’s day is an excruciating combo for many. Even if you don’t have the perfect Hallmark kind of day that you’d like (though I highly doubt those actually exist in real life), simply be thankful for your children who made you a mother. I’m incredibly thankful for my own mother, a sweet, Godly Christian woman who is one of my best friends. The older I get, the more I see that she doesn’t need elaborate gifts. I usually write her a letter and spend the day with her and my dad. That’s what makes her the most happy — simply having time with us.

  35. When my husband and I got married we spent time talking about days such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Neither of us make a big deal out of any of those days. My husband will bring me home a flower (which he does just because randomly throughout the year anyways) but that’s about it. Sometimes they hand out flowers at church ( one year we had cake because the person responsible to get flowers forgot ☺️) which I enjoy but other than that I don’t really mind if anything happens on those days or not and neither does my husband. My husband grew up in Kenya and did not celebrate those days. He also did not celebrate birthdays. These days and the celebration of them are definitely cultural in my mind. If we both grew up celebrating them and he didn’t acknowledge them towards me I think I may feel differently but since thats not the case I don’t see how getting upset or disappointed would be beneficial for our relationship. What bothers me is trying to explain our decision to not emphasize those days to my mom. Sometimes her comments make me feel like she thinks my husband isn’t doing what he should even though I explain our decision to not emphasize those days. I’d have to say that this coming from my mom sours things way more than anything my husband does or doesn’t do. By the way, I’m not a huge gift person and am notorious for not doing or getting anything on those days either.
    Our son is 1.5 years old so is too young to do anything for us. When he is older and he does something special for us on those days I will be happy but at this point I think any day he does something special for us I would be equally as happy. I’m just thankful that I have a husband that loves me and appreciates me every day of the year and for the opportunity to be a mother to a sweet little boy who challenges us, makes us laugh, makes us cry, and brings so much richness. I am blessed every day because of these two. God has blessed me and I am happy and content in that whether it’s Mother’s Day or not.

  36. christiana says:

    For my mother’s day, my husband just said happy mothers day to me because he heard me tell my mom happy mothers day and that was it, let home came up after 4hrs. Nothing was said about mother day. What do I do about it

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  1. […] also a lot of pressure on men to get the right thing for women on Mother’s Day. But there’s not quite the same pressure on women to get their men something. We’re not […]

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