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Mother’s Day left you disappointed? Here’s how to move forward in joy

POSTPARTUM,DEPRESSION
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These 3 tips can help you let go of a day that may not have been what you hoped for.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a rotten, stinking, “somebody better be filming this for a hidden camera show” kind of Mother’s Day, but I’ve certainly had my share. There was the year my husband ran out the front door (after realizing the day was over because it was dark outside) and returned with a handful of scraggly weeds. Yes, this man who wooed me with original poetry when we were dating brought me a bouquet of weeds, and I’m not talking dandelions which would have counted as flowers — these were big, honking itchy weeds that gave me a delightful rash.

“It’s the thought that counts!” He defended himself when my eyes filled with tears.

“Yes it is!” I agreed, “What were you thinking?”

Now before you go concluding that my husband’s a jerk and my seven sons are mini jerks – stop – because these guys are really great. They were all just a bit bamboozled when it came to Mother’s Day. “It’s a Hallmark holiday,” I’d said more than once, which only served to confuse them.

But the fact is that while Mother’s Day has become commercialized, motherhood is so central to my identity that I deeply want to be acknowledged in a meaningful way on this specific day. It took me a few years to realize this after a few disappointing Mother’s Days to be able to communicate my feelings. But when I did, God’s grace looked like this:

“Hey Sweetie,” I said to my husband mid-week, “Mother’s Day is this weekend, and while I’m not into fancy stuff, it would mean so much if you took the kids to the Dollar Store ahead of time; you know, let them pick out a card or a trinket.”

His eyes lit up because when we were dating, the goal was romantic originality. Add a couple of kids, a new business and a tight budget to the mix and, well …

But “The Dollar Store” … he could handle The Dollar Store.

I’ll never forget unwrapping the many pink gifts our sons, ages 2, 4 and 6 at the time, picked out for me. Glittery lip gloss and hair bows (even though I’m a bit of a tomboy and don’t have much hair). We cuddled up on the couch as I “ooed” and “awed” and shared my box of chocolates with them. I remember holding a snow globe full of floating red hearts and realizing – “This is how they see me.”

I know my husband and sons loved me just as much the year of the weed bouquet. They just needed a little mothering to know how to show it. And you know what, your family probably does too. So here are a few tips that you don’t even have to wait a year to apply:

1
Pray

Turn to the One who molded your tender heart and blessed you with the holy vocation of motherhood. Take a car ride and go ahead and cry. The hurt of seeing all your friends with bouquets and balloons on social media while you’re holding a handful of weeds totally stinks (oh yeah, and stay off of social media). Now before you head home, pause to reflect – “Were my expectations too high?” Only the Holy Spirit can lead you to the truth here.

2
Express but don’t accuse

When you return home, if you have peace about it go ahead and share your feelings (Note: You may be better off waiting a day or two or even holding off until next year; again, let the Holy Spirit be your guide). “Yeah, Mother’s Day left me a little bummed,” you can say while drying dishes, “I wasn’t expecting diamonds, but a _________ would have meant a lot.” If your husband or kids become defensive, assure them that you’re fine. Because you are. You’re true comfort is in Our Lord, and the pain of these kinds of disappointments only deepens your prayer life (if you let it).

3
Now make a clear request

“Hey – I’m happy to take a rain check.” Go ahead and say it with a smile. The idea that your family’s thoughtful actions have to be completely uninformed in order to be meaningful is ludicrous, and it’s a demand we don’t put on any other holiday. Go ahead and ask for a little extra time alone the following weekend or for someone to run out and buy your favorite ice cream. Or if you’re out of ideas, feel free to rip off my Dollar Store hack. I haven’t had another rotten, stinking Mother’s Day – or another bouquet of weeds – ever since!

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