Friday, May 6, 2011

On Expectations

Let's talk about Mother's Day, friends.  Are you all excited?  Are you expecting Hubs to come up with some amazing plan for the day that involves limos and spas and absolutely no work for you?  Are you wondering what beautiful gift he'll be giving you to reflect his deep gratitude for your sacrifices and all your hard work?

You're about to be disappointed.

If it's not your first Mother's Day, you may have been hurt and bitter in the past that it seemed to be just another day, like any other.  You still had to change diapers.  You still needed to cook dinner (and lunch.  And maybe breakfast).  Maybe your husband planned a lunch out at a nice restaurant, but you still had to help restrain the 18 month old during the sure-to-be a three hour lunch.  Your husband may not have brought home the perfect gift.  Or maybe Mother's Day still seems to be about your mother and grandmother, and you wish it were your "turn".  You tend to spend the day feel angry and disappointed.  Why doesn't anyone recognize your hard work?!  Can't you have just one day to be about you?!  You deserve the day off damn it!


Brace yourself, I'm about to say something harsh:
You brought this on yourself.
Yup, I just said it's your own fault.  On Mother's Day.

Of course, you had plenty of help.  We've all seen so much Lifetime TV that we think a Danielle Steel novel is reality.  And the commercials for gifts are just ridiculous.

What we need to do here is manage expectations.  In reality, Mother's Day IS just another day.  A day in which meals will need to be made, diapers will need to be changed, laundry will need to be done, children will need to be trained.  You can expect that you will need to do at least some of that work.  While it would be nice if your husband and family took time out to express their gratitude for all your hard work, what really matters is if you feel appreciated in your day-to-day life.  If you don't, that is a much bigger issue than Mother's Day, and you need to have a serious discussion with your husband.  But if you do know that are appreciated everyday, and these feelings are all about holiday hype, I have some advice:  Mother's Day is another day you get to spend with your family.  You can wreck it for yourself with your hurt feelings, or you can treat it like a normal day and be surprised and happy by anything special that may happen.  It is within your power to make your own day.

Here's two ideas to make things a little better:

1.  Set Your Husband Up for Success
No matter how much we may want them to be, men are not like women in the planning department.  I know you probably already have Father's Day planned out, gift and all.  Good for you.  (Seriously).  But Mother's Day may not even be on his radar.  So TELL him.  Here's how that usually plays out in my house.

Me:  "Honey, what would you like to get your mother for Mother's Day?"
Hubs:  "Mother's Day?  Oh.  When is that?"

Now he's knows it is coming, because I told him.  Simple.  I may also mark it on our family calendar, in case he is feeling forgetful.  Then, when you bring his mom's gift home, he will be reminded again.  (But for goodness sake, make him sign his own card for her.  He is a grown man.  We're keeping expectations low here, not non-existent).

If you are expecting a certain gift, email him the exact link.  (Don't just tell him, he will forget).  Be prepared for him:  A) To just get this and be done (not a surprise gift or anything), or B) Not get this, because he can't wrap his mind around paying that much for whatever it is.  (You can buy it for yourself next week.  Smile and look happy about whatever he picked up at the gas station at 11pm last night).

If he doesn't manage to take your hints and still doesn't do anything nice for you, go ahead and be mad.  (Just kidding).  Remind yourself that you are buying your own gift tomorrow.  When you bring it home, make a joke about the "gift fairy".  As in, "I see the gift fairy was a little late with my Mother's Day gift this year.  Oh well, it is perfect!  Exactly what I wanted!" as you hold up said gift and dare him with your eyes to say anything but "I'm so sorry I forgot Mother's Day.  I am a moron."  (You don't get to joke like this if you just don't like what he gave you-bring it in the house quietly.  The point isn't to hurt his feelings.  It is to make yourself feel better).

2.  Do Something for Someone Else
(This is my standard having-a-bad-day advice, by the way).  Last year I had all of Seth's extended family over for Mother's Day lunch at my house.  I gave them gifts.  I made them a nice lunch.  I tried to make them feel special.  See where I'm going here?  It's a lot more fun when it's not about you.  I tried to show my gratitude and appreciation to people I love.  Often when we are making a nice day for other people, we end up making a nice day for ourselves as well.  At the very worst, after planning and cooking a lunch and cleaning up, you will be too tired to remember your high hopes for a spa day or diamonds.

Mother's Day is just a day like any other, with no power of its own.  The pressure comes from you.  If your husband does something amazing for you, great!  You deserve it!  I will be so happy for you!  But either way, if you manage your expectations, you will be happy.  If you cry and stomp your feet and feel resentful all day, you just ruined what could have been a great day.  Tomorrow, after the holiday hangover has worn off and you go back to your normal life, you will feel silly, and your children will remember that mom was always crabby on Mother's Day.  (If Mother's Day is genuinely important to you, wait until next week, after you cool down, to have a chat with your husband.  Make it clear that even if he thinks it is stupid, this is something he needs to do for you).

I know it can feel like you spend all your time doing things that nobody notices, that you don't even like doing, things that are of no benefit to yourself at all....

But wait.

In the long run, they are going to benefit you.  Every meal you cook, every sock you wash, every project you help with.....every time you control your temper, your selfishness, your exhaustion, you are building a family, a life.  Your life.

This is your Mother's Day gift.  A life blessed by family and children and a marriage and hard work.  A happy life.  And that beats the hell out of a cheap necklace.

P.S.  Are you feeling frustrated after reading this?  You feel like it's so unfair that you don't get a special day, that you would never do this to your husband on Father's Day blah blah blah?


I get it, I do.  I've felt that way too.  But we're big girls now, and we know that fairness has nothing to do with a happy life.  And that is our goal, right?!  Right.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for commenting on my blog!!  I loved this post and wish many of my friends would dread mother's day!  You blog is a great read!