If you have been frustrated at the end of Mother’s Day, you aren’t alone.
I’ve been a mom for five years, and I tell myself every year that it’s silly to expect so much from the second Sunday in May—and still I feel let down or grumpy and underappreciated more times than I would care to admit.
There’s something about this particular holiday that elicits powerful emotions from us. After all, motherhood is an incredible and all-consuming gift that transforms women for the rest of their lives. Add to that the pressure and relentless drill of ads from emails, store displays and social media posts that groom our expectations for this fateful May Sunday.
I’m sick of the cycle of unrealistic expectations followed by disappointment, so here are three reasonable resolutions I have set for Mother’s Day this year.
First, I resolve that I will spend the day loving my family.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks I run into on Mother’s Day is expecting to live it as a day of relaxation, and somehow have my husband and children wait on me hand and foot.
This uncommunicated expectation causes me to check out and not tune into what needs to be done around me, and then become resentful when our routine falls apart or goes awry. I forget that my main job 24/7 is to love my family, and expect that I get to take an annual break from that job. This is not to say that taking time for yourself is wrong, but when I approach the day feeling entitled to rest and idleness, it usually ends on a sour note.
Second, I resolve to communicate what I want from the day to the people in my life.
I have two small children and a husband who all love me and appreciate what I do every day. But, they don’t always know how to express that. I have learned that if I communicate a reasonable desire for the day, we all end the day happier.
I feel loved when people make cards for me, and when people buy food for me. So, when my son brought up the fact that Mother’s Day was coming up, I said I would love it if you made me a card. And then Mother’s Day came up again later in conversation while picking my husband up from work. I told him I would love to celebrate Mother’s Day by eating a special snack after Mass together at the park.
Communicating what I want and how I feel loved often feels foreign and selfish to me, but when I make the effort, it usually leads to a more harmonious day for everyone.
Third, I resolve to handle any disappointments I experience in a healthy way.
Despite my best goal setting, re-framing, and expectation management strategies, I may still end up disappointed at some point in the day. I’m human, as are the people around me.
So, if I’m disappointed, I’m going to start by accepting my disappointment—it’s normal and okay to feel that way. Then I’ll explore it to discover why I’m feeling that way. Is it because of poor planning, or unexpected circumstances? Am I disappointed in a person or in the flat tire that threw the day off from the start?
Once I find the root, I can decide how to address it. Do I need to vent about the flat tire to someone, or do I need to find an appropriate time to discuss my frustration with the person I felt let down by? Whatever I discover, I resolve to explore my frustration in order to move past it—instead of pushing it away or letting it settle in and stay a while to ruin the rest of the day or week.
Here’s to a happy Mother’s Day!