When Mother’s Day Is a Set-Up for Disappointment


Last year, I was chatting with a friend after Mother’s Day. Our conversation went a bit like this:

How was your Mother’s Day?

It was fine . . . Yeah, it was okay. We were working on a home improvement project all day and barely made it to dinner at my parents’ house. Actually it was a really hard day. I cried.

A few days later I asked another friend the same question.

How was your Mother’s Day?

Oh, it was alright. We had a brunch at home. The kids were fighting a lot. It was kind of a tough day.

My Mother’s Day experience had been similar. Kind of frustrating. Kind of disappointing. There may have been tears. Is Mother’s Day just a big set-up for disappointment?

I don’t want to sound selfish. I don’t expect a huge, surprising gesture every year. And I know I have it good! I’m married and have a husband who loves me. (Let’s all be mindful of those single moms in our circles. Maybe send them an anonymous gift since they don’t have a significant other to remember this holiday.)

I don’t expect my family to worship the ground I walk on for an entire day. But we all know that moms do a lot of thankless jobs. We work really hard for our families, and we’d like to feel appreciated every once in a while. Especially on Mother’s Day!

The Kids Don’t Care

My two friends and I each have several small children under the age of 6. And here’s a thing about small kids: they don’t really care about Mother’s Day. Sorry, but it’s true. Young kids are still learning to care about the feelings of other people. I don’t think they even have the mental capacity to grasp our daily workload.

It’s unrealistic to think that small children are going to wake-up on Mother’s Day, behave perfectly, and lavish us with praise and gratitude for all our hard work. And yet, I’m still a tiny bit sad and disappointed when that doesn’t happen.

I hold on to very high expectations for holidays and special occasions. Those expectations sometimes serve to disappoint me when reality doesn’t quite live up. Children don’t always cooperate with our plans. They usually don’t grasp why these moments are so important to us. Children will throw their biggest tantrum during what you had envisioned to be a magical and joyous family occasion. We should still teach our kids how to show love and appreciation to others, but we must remember, they are still learning.

Is Mother's Day a Set-Up for Disappointment by Albuquerque Moms Blog

Special Gestures

Ideally, I’d like Mother’s Day to feel a little special. I’m not expecting huge, grand gesture. But I’d love for my family to put in some effort to let me know I’m appreciated. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s really helpful to just be honest about my expectations.

Special occasions should not be a test for our loved ones where we quietly plan out a perfect day and then expect them to know what we wanted.

If you have a significant other or kids who plan sweet gestures and know your wishes WITHOUT you ever stating it, then they are truly exceptional! I often think my desires and plans for special days are obvious, but apparently they are not. I have learned to tell my husband exactly what I’d like to do on my birthday and Mother’s Day, and he always cheerfully makes it happen. It may not sound very romantic, but it works really well.

mother's day expectations, ABQ Mom

Mother’s Day in Quarantine

This year, Mother’s Day could prove especially difficult for many of us. Our usual traditions are not feasible right now. Stores and restaurants are closed, and most of us have been isolating in our homes for weeks. Mother’s Day is bound to feel like just another day in quarantine.

This year, I’m hoping to avoid special occasion disappointment by making a plan and asking for it. Here’s a few of my ideas for a quarantine Mother’s Day:

Pick a quiet trail or neighborhood. Go for a family hike. Maybe the kids could help pack a picnic?

Have a day-off from “mom duties.” Ask your significant other or kids to handle your usual chores. They could cook or order take-out from a restaurant you love.

Ask for time to do something you enjoy, even though you’ll still be at home. I will be asking my husband to spend the morning with the kids so I can exercise, drink a cup of coffee on the patio with a book, or even shop online for some summer necessities.

Do a family craft project. You can always look back on it and remember this unique and challenging time.

So what are your ideas for a quarantine Mother’s Day? Please share them so we can all remember to ask for them in advance!

Originally published May 2020.

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Paige is a stay-at-home mom to three hilarious, energetic boys. In her pre-kid life, Paige worked as a licensed mental health counselor, but she shelved her empathetic listening and insightful questions to change diapers, race cars on the kitchen floor, and mediate toddler wrestling matches. While Paige loves to be there for (almost) every moment with her children, she also loves to get away and connect with other moms for dinner or a walk in the beautiful Albuquerque sun. Paige is married to her high-school sweetheart, Ben, and they work together to raise their three sons with lots of laughter and lots of love.