The Mother’s Day Debate

In honor of my mother, who deserves a tribute today, but gets this blog instead.

My friend T and I were discussing Mother’s Day traditions last night – what we were doing on Sunday, what our kids, or husbands had planned, what we hoped for. We were definitely on the same page. We don’t need them to do something big; we don’t need them to do something fancy. We just need them to do something.

I definitely have friends who take the martyr approach, who are of the “It’s no big deal” variety – moms who are happy to overlook a lack of effort, sincerity, time, or money spent. I am not one of them, and as a result, there have been some rocky Mother’s Days around our home.

Before that second Sunday in May, I’d like to my kids know that:

You know, there is such a thing as gratitude. There is such a thing as acknowledging the fact that each and every day, I serve you. I cook for you, clean for you, drive for you. I entertain you, love you, tuck you in at night, take care of you when you are sick, celebrate your accomplishments and mourn your defeats. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE doing this and I love you. I will continue to do this, whether or not I get anything special on Mother’s Day, Christmas, or my birthday. I will tell myself that deep down, you really do appreciate me and deep down, I really do believe it’s true.

However, I think Mother’s Day is a nice opportunity for my husband to reinforce the messages we try to teach our kids all year long: the art of acknowledgement, the joy of gift-giving, the impact of making an effort.

When they were all in elementary school, he had it easier. The teachers would help the kids make little balls of crepe paper flowers, signs of love, or traced handprints with poems written to melt a mama’s heart. Those were the good old days. I’ve only got the baby left I that demographic, and even her handprints aren’t that cute any more.

So now the onus is all on Tim. Somehow, he has to inspire the troops to really love on their mom. How will it turn out this year? It’s questionable – because they’re growing up and bought into the hype that it’s no big deal, that Mother’s Day is just another Hallmark holiday, that a hug and a kiss and a mumbled “Happy Mother’s Day” is good enough.

Sorry mister, it’s really not.

I’d like Tim to know that:

I know you are busy. I know the kids are lukewarm about shopping. I know you detest it. But I’d really like to get something from someplace other than Hallmark, Rite Aid and Starbucks, the three shops in a row at the strip mall a mile away from our home. I like to think my perfect Mother’s Day is pretty easy. A morning latte and blueberry scone, a trip to the beach, a plate of buffalo wings and a pitcher of dark beer for dinner, while we watch an NBA playoff game. You’ve said before that my Mother’s Day is a surfing man’s dream.

Tim might like to remind me at this point that I am not all that easy. That I forgot about wanting to go to church as a family, which always involves arguments about showers, clothing and shoe-choices. G**- Forbid, Molly has to wear something besides her slip-on, checkered Vans with a hole in the toe. Since it’s Mother’s Day, he has to do all the arguing. He might also mention that my morning latte is actually a “grande, two-pump, extra-hot, non-fat, vanilla latte,” which he can never order right since he only gets it for me once a year, and then despite his effort and embarrassment at ordering such a ridiculous thing, he has to see me be almost satisfied, instead of completely so. Finally, he doesn’t like dark beer, or buffalo wings, but I order them and he eats them, because after all, it is Mother’s Day. 

Now, if anyone is getting defensive on my poor family’s behalf, let me just say again that a gift doesn’t need to be big. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to be a bouquet of over-priced flowers. It just needs to speak my love language, which means it needs to come from the heart. And if their hearts are blank, if they come up empty when it comes to me, well then, that’s a story for another day. But I am going to pretend like that’s not the case. I am going to hope that they just need a little bit of encouragement to dig deep, take some time and put down on paper a little bit of mom-love. Is that too much to ask? Colored markers speak volumes.

Tim might also like to jump in here and point out that for his birthday last week I failed miserably at this very challenge. Only two out of three of our kids mustered up the energy to make him a birthday card and his gifts consisted of two gift cards from that same strip mall I was just complaining about.

In my defense, he always says we don’t need to get him anything. I never say that! But okay, I’m humbled, but that’s not the point. The point is the ideal we are shooting for here people!

So what do you think, moms? Is Mother’s Day a big deal, or not? Does your family step up, or is it just another Hallmark-holiday to you? And what do you do to honor your mom, and your mother-in-law, and your sisters and all the other mothers you know and love and your own role in your family all in the same day?

P.S. As I finished writing, I looked up and saw this. It was my one of my best Mother’s Day presents ever. I actually have it hanging next to my bed to help me remember who I am.

Molly's Mother's Day Creation

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5 thoughts on “The Mother’s Day Debate

  1. Ali, I am with you! I look forward to Mother’s Day every year. Last year I got a leaf blower…yes, and I loved it! I have a bad back and it was so very thoughtful of my kids to find something that could help me keep my garden patio and walkways nice and clean without using the broom. This year my son has agreed to play a round of golf with me! That is a true gift as he does not share the same passion and fervor for the game as I do. However, he is willing to go out and hit the sticks with me. We will end the day with a sunset dinner at the beach with a group of Moms and kids/families to celebrate all of our accomplishments over the year. My daughter who is away at school will probably do “something artsy” for me as she usually does. She is thoughtful in that way. Happy Mother’s Day to you Ali!

  2. Ali, You’re the best! Love your gift for telling it just like it is – straight from the heart! Tim, hope you’re reading this blog…no pressure. It’s truly not that difficult to make a mom happy and feeling the love. Hope it’s an easy, gentle, warm and loving day for all of you.

  3. I laughed out loud at your “family dysfunction story” here. Today was my perfect Mother’s Day! Family, church, and fun n sun almost the entire day! I am so glad that I insisted that we come home in time for Mother’s Day. The affirmations, the hugs and kisses, and the presents (especially the photo of all ten grandkids) were priceless. Thank you for another wonderful Mother’s Day present- your wonderful writing always makes me beam! PS- as a note of encouragement- all of my children’s appreciation of me has grown astronomically since they have become parents!

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