The Only Way I Do Mother’s Day
By Anna Lind Thomas
My daughters were tiny little nuggets, and truth be told, I really wasn’t in the mood to make a big to-do about Mother’s Day. Also, I was sleep deprived, nursing, sore and had troubling unknown wet spots all over my clothes. Who needs it?
When my husband asked if we should do something to celebrate, I turned to him with my youngest in my arms and said, “We don’t need to do anything, the joy and privilege of motherhood is the only gift I need.”
And that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever said in my life.
To my surprise, Mother’s Day was an unexpected emotional landmine, much like birthdays. In theory, I really don’t want people to make a fuss. But when it’s day of, and nobody makes a fuss, let alone a text, I don’t know whether to cry in the bathroom or go scorched earth on all the ungrateful, unthoughtful ingrates in my life.
I’m not asking for a lot. Maybe just a little something like the Proverbs 31 woman, where “her children arise and call her blessed,” and her husband honors her as the noblest woman in the world. Is that too much to ask?
If I dig down deep, I told my husband not to make a fuss because I was exhausted and worried some of the fuss would fall on me. But, on second thought, if I could take a day off as a short order cook for one child who complains that their grilled cheese “is too brown” and another who suddenly decides they hate grilled cheese (who in their right mind hates grilled cheese?), then maybe it’s not such a terrible idea. Plus, I might get little gifts, and while I genuinely don’t care if it’s macaroni art or an iPad, an iPad wouldn’t hurt. As long as my husband doesn’t buy the iPad out of our joint bank account, because is it really a gift then? I don’t know, it’s complicated.
My point is, Mother’s Day can be a touchy, complicated subject, because collectively, we’ve suffered some real injustice.
There was the one year everyone forgot, including our husband, until he was reminded by Facebook. Then things got awkward.
Or when money was tight so we told our family not to do anything and they believed us and that day was boring, and included folding loads of laundry and honestly, I don’t want to talk about it.
Or the one year we got a vacuum. And not even a good one.
Or when we went out to our favorite restaurant that had a one hour wait, then our toddler threw the kind of tantrum that makes you want to float up into the clouds to greet Jesus.
So yes, we don’t want anyone to do anything, but for everyone to at least do something, so like I said, it’s complicated.
But why? The expectations.
All that room for error! Potential disappointments at every turn! It’s the one day where we want to be left alone and don’t want a flash mob to break out in the middle of Target to honor and delight us. But we don’t not want it, either.
That’s the pitfall, the reason for the tears or resentment. It’s the expectation. So, what if we took the pressure off our loved ones and ourselves? My mom always did this, and she taught it to me.
“If you want a lovely Mother’s Day,” Mom said over the phone, “Plan it yourself.”
“Plan it myself?” I said, incredulous.
“Yeah, just the way you like it.”
And so I did, and do, every year.
I buy myself the good coffee. I plan what I want for dinner, every little detail.
I order a gorgeous Chantilly cake and tell my husband when to pick it up.
Everyone knows toddlers ruin a good brunch at a fancy restaurant, so when my babies were young I didn’t invite them. So what? They’re clueless and poop their pants. It’s fine.
I buy a good book at a bookstore and block off delicious alone time to read it.
One year my husband bought me overpriced flowers delivered in a box and they were dead upon arrival. He was sad, and I felt bad he was sad. So, from then on, I’ve gone to a florist and bought my own.
I have my children help me with something I love doing, like gardening. If they start fighting or ask to go play Minecraft, I roll with it. This doesn’t have to be on Instagram.
I make it a day to enjoy all the things I love, and to be thankful to have all the loves in my life.
And then I simply enjoy the day I planned, just for myself. Just the way I like it.
Of course, if my family decides, and they usually do, to dote on me, it’s no skin off my nose. Homemade cards, little gifts, a foot rub from my husband or my girls helping me scoop dirt into flowerpots, is just, well, icing on the Chantilly cake.
I’m not asking for a lot.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and popular online personality who founded the funny site HaHas for HooHas. She spends her time writing for various media outlets and hosting her podcast, It’s Not That Serious, which is consistently ranked in the Top 25 of the iTunes Family section. Her new podcast with Bunmi Laditan, The Podcast You Listen To While Folding Laundry, is now available wherever you get your podcasts. She is the author of We’ll Laugh About This Someday and I’m Not Ready For This, on sale May 10, 2022. She holds a bachelors in advertising and a masters in communication studies and spent many years copywriting and creating campaigns in ad departments before having children. Anna and her husband, Rob, live in Nebraska with their two young daughters, Lucy and Poppy, and an English Bulldog named Bruno. You can purchase Anna’s new book, I’m Not Ready For This on her website at AnnaLindThomas.com.