Monday, May 3, 2010

Have an Empowering Mother's Day

When you are making preparations for Mother's Day coming up this weekend, don't forget the most important person you should prepare for: Yourself. If you have children, of course.

Some people don't do much of anything to celebrate Mother's Day, and that fact doesn't concern them too much. Some are married to enthusiastic holiday planners or giftgivers who never fail to express their love and appreciation. Others approach Mother's Day with secret anticipation, hoping their partner or children will acknowledge them and thank them in some way, yet end up feeling vaguely disappointed if their needs for appreciation aren't met.

I used to do this, and inevitably I would end up feeling dissapointed and unappreciated. This wasn't because my spouse and kids didn't appreciate me, but because they didn't know what I wanted for Mother's Day! This was because I didn't know what I wanted for Mother's Day, either. My kids are too young to take initiative on their own, and my husband has major psychological issues surrounding potential gift-giving events. (Hmmm... I'd better check and be sure I'm allowed to write that. He says yes!)

Things have gone much better since I thought out what it was that would be meaningful to me on Mother's Day; in a sense what my ideal Mother's Day would be like. Once I had a clear image of the day in my mind, I could share that with my family and put a plan in action.
  • Plan in Advance. The best plans, even if they are simple, seem to go more smoothly if they are thought out in advance. Don't wait until Sunday to let your family know what you have in mind, especially there is a possibility that they have an alternate plan in the works. This also gives time for advance preparation, such as food, day trip packing and planning, reservations, child care arrangements, mailing cards to mothers/grandmothers, etc.
  • Celebrate with extended family (grandmothers, etc.) on a different day if possible. Can you tell that we like to celebrate Mother's Day in my family? In years past I've figured out that it can be too much to try to celebrate at a family get-together AND celebrate with just my own kids on the same day. At the same time, I don't  want to forget my grandmothers nor my own mother. This year my grandmother's will receive Mother's Day wishes in the mail, and I will see my own mother on Saturday.
  • Make it Doable and Fun. It may be tempting when your spouse asks what you want for Mother's Day to annouce that you want him to finish that home project he's been dragging out for 6 months, or for the entire family to help you clean out the garage. I think it's better to keep expectations moderate and make your request more about being a celebration and family bonding time. (Unless, of course, you your family booked a spa appointment. In this situation, defer family bonding time to a more convenient time, such as Father's Day, and head to the spa immediately.)
  • Make it a Tradition. If you celebrate in at least a similar way each year (remember, first you have to decide how to celebrate so that the day is meaningful to you) at some point your family members will notice the pattern. They may start spontaneously adding to your plan, or be willing to do more of the advance preparation since they know what to expect.
  • Do for Yourself. Do you want your children and spouse to give you cards on Mother's Day? What's stopping you from purchasing them yourself? I have done this in the past. Everyone signed their names on the cards and 'gave' them to me, and it was cathartic to open them and read them despite having selected each one out at the store. (Amazingly, each card said just what I needed to hear!) What can I say? I was feeling hormonal that year. Don't feel embarrassed about doing for yourself what you need. Think of it as teaching your children your Mother's Day traditions. If you don't care about cards, don't buy/make them. This is just one example. Bake a cake with your kids, or pack a picnic, or whatever it is that is meaningful and enjoyable to you that you would like to pass on to them as a tradition or memory.
  • Do for Someone Else. It goes without saying that you should do something for your own maternal relations on Mother's Day. In addition, if you know a mother other than your own who is unlikely to be acknowledged on Mother's Day, do something meaningful for them. Usually the unacknnowledged mothers are the ones who need a Mother's Day gift the most.
Now that I've empowered myself and figured out what is meaningful to me on Mother's Day, we are building a tradition as a family. Since I do almost all the cooking, it's nice to have a break and go out to eat. We have young kids, though, which makes it difficult to deal with crowds and long waits, so we go to brunch first thing in the morning right when the restaurant opens. This leave plenty of time for a family bike ride for most of the day. After that, things are less structured, but usually some sort of carryout or delivery is involved at dinnertime. I haven't decided on cards yet; I might take the kids to pick out cards for me as my son is reading now. Or maybe we'll make some?

Whatever works for you on Mother's Day, I encourage you to empower yourself and make it happen!

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