And a dandilion bouquet

Ah, Mother’s Day.  As my friend Amanda observed, it’s a loaded holiday, isn’t it? I’m sure I’ve written before about my tenuous relationship with the day.  When I was a younger mum, I was so often guilty of using it like a report card, and the trouble with that was that it almost never went well.  My kids were little, and really weren’t big enough to avoid the things that set me off about the whole shebang. All I wanted from that day was for things to be “nice”.  Big problem. Motherhood isn’t.

Motherhood is messy, and complicated, and frequently loud, and full of amazing things interspersed with horrible, terrifying things, like sick children, and choking hazards, and broken hearts, and wishes for strange haircuts and tattoos. (I think I’m running several decades together there.) Sure, there are hugs and kisses and stories, and moments that are beyond sweet, and breathtakingly beautiful, but the hallmark of motherhood isn’t those moments where sunshine is streaming through a window, while you and a throng of sweet, charming children make dinner from scratch while discussing the stuff that will shape them as people. It’s more like doing laundry at 3am because someone just puked on the last clean set of sheets, while you wonder how the hell you’re getting through tomorrow because there’s that *&^^$ing soccer thing and despite trying to avoid it, it’s your turn to bring the cut up oranges that you haven’t bought yet – even though you have a work deadline and the budget is totally screwed this month because another one of the kids outgrew their shoes, while you wonder how many cups of coffee it’s going to take and if this is the week you cry at the grocery store. (That’s an actual flashback, right there.)

I’m not saying motherhood isn’t wonderful. It is. I’m not saying it doesn’t have moments that are totally worth it. It does. I’m not even saying that the whole thing is s deadly slog, that only the bravest of people should entertain. (But it is.) I’m saying that mostly, being a really, really good mum is a metric tonne of work, and that expecting that one day a year, all of that will be suspended so that you can have an amazing Sunday full of just the good parts of parenting, with wave upon wave of gratitude sent your way by all the people you’re working to keep alive is totally batsh*t insane, and it took me just about twenty years of mothering to learn it.

It’s just a day, and if it doesn’t go well, and if at 8:30am there’s a huge fight in the kitchen because they’re trying to make you breakfast in bed and someone stirred the batter for pancakes (even though that’s their favourite, not yours) when it wasn’t their turn, and someone else spilled syrup (and all you can think about is that you’re going to have to wash the floor eight times to make it not sticky anymore) and someone else is now yelling “I hate you, YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE” because you’ve made the wholly unreasonable suggestion that they spend the morning with you instead of their boyfriend, because he’s not a stinking mother… (whoops. Flashback again.) Then this does not mean One. Little. Thing. about being a parent, or how good you are at it, or if they value you as a mother.

They do. They’re just kids, and kids (rather ironically) are the whole problem with Mother’s Day. They’re too young. They can’t set aside who they are for the sake of showing you how much they care, not unless about 87 things go right, and well… the odds of that aren’t amazing. Lower standards are your friend here. Mother’s day, that’s for Mums who’ve got it mostly licked. Mum’s who have kids who are… well. Adults. That’s who’s good at Mothers Day. These ladies, for example, knocked it out of the park this year – although there was almost a small fight about who would clean up. (They’re adults, but still sisters. The risk remains.)

the ladies 2015-05-12

This Mother’s day, we all turned up at Ken’s. He and the girls made an amazing dinner for me, my mum, my sister, my mother-in-law and my sister in law, and they did a fabulous job. There was laughing, and food, and champagne (and I think Luis bit his mother, but only once) and it was lovely. It was also my 25th Mothers Day.  After dinner, when Joe proposed a toast, we all lifted our glasses, and he said “To all the Mum’s – thank you for giving us life” and we toasted our mums, and I remarked “Giving you life was the easy part” and Katie held her glass aloft and said “You should really be thanking us for not taking it back again.”

Word.  Happy Belated Mother’s Day. I hope it was… what it is. A Mother thing.

129 thoughts on “And a dandilion bouquet

  1. That’s such a cute post. I don’t have much of a relationship with my mother, so the whole thing’s loaded in the other direction!

  2. My grandmother always said that Mothers’ Day was for bad kids, because they needed a date on a calendar to remind them to celebrate, or at least acknowledge their moms. Good kids are good to their moms every day in her book. And though I don’t think kids have malice of intent in driving their mothers crazy and to the brink (frightening how your own child can actually get you to the point of seriously considering murder), and the gratitude may not be manifested daily, I do have to agree with my wise Gram.

  3. Yes! I ended Mother’s Day entirely pissed off. You just put your finger on exactly why. My kid’s over-the-top plans to do nice things for Mommy were really much more about her than they were about me. I ended up shouldering the burden of her expectations–and having to endure her crazed temper tantrum (my husband repeatedly telling her not to ruin Mother’s Day did not seem to help). My husband was totally stressed after an entire day of gift buying and fancy meal cooking and child entertaining. I just wanted a few hours to myself and a nice dinner. Somehow it turned out so much more complicated than that.

  4. Mothers Day is when your son drives from out of town and brings flowers and a fruit plate he made himself. I am one lucky mom whose sons appreciate hand knit socks.

  5. It’s so true that adult kids are good at Mother’s Day and that kids are not. I’ve experienced both, and on the whole, I prefer the adult variety. I sent today’s post to my daughter as solace.

  6. For those of us that never had the ideal relationship with our mother and sometimes a less than ideal relationship with one or more of our kids – adult aged – and elementary school age children/grandchildren who plop their hand prints on a card, this is a look at our lives as well. Thanks Stephanie for the insight.

  7. As a single mother, if I expect much in the way of gifts and such, I will be disappointed. I was touched that all of my kids (ages 14, 4,4) remembered that is was Mother’s Day and that the twins remembered that it was their older brother’s birthday. It was a sweet day. Hopefully, that will set the tone for the time until the next Mother’s Day. I can handle sweet and happy kids! Unless my daughter tries to get into my stash anymore. How much yarn can a 4 year old need anyway???

    • Take her shopping to build up her own personal stash, with some of her own pocket money.
      She may want to do a few extra chores. A good incentive.

  8. This mother’s day went pretty well, although I cried when my 3 year-old ripped all the decorations off the nice card they gave me. Motherhood is wonderful and hard and ugly and beautiful.

  9. Yes. I am still in the puking crying 3am part of it. This mother’s day’s gift was 2 hours alone so I could go walk on the beach. Best. Gift. Ever.

  10. Thank you! You got it right – once again. So glad you had a good day, and the bike ride looked awesome! I’m sending this to my daughter, who is the wonderful mother of 3 sweet and young boys. So good to remember that we live in reality – not in Hallmark Cards. (Too bad we’ve lost the sense of Mother’s Day as a time to focus on no mother’s child having to go to war, which was it’s original intent.)

  11. So true! It’s just another day of being a Mom and no expectations are the way to go!! I always buy myself a knitting book for mother’s day and I’m happy 🙂

  12. So very, very true… and very, very cute. I hope my Mother’s Days get better from here (having a 19 year old and an almost 18 year old), but no promises. It’ll probably be more like people forgetting at this point.

  13. I smiled, laughed and cried reading this entry. My girls are now 33 and 37, so instead of me going through some of the same things you talked about, they are. My younger daughter, a single mom, messaged me at the end of the day “this is not how I wanted the day to end…” (her son got in trouble at home) Thanks for articulating so well what most of us think.

  14. Ha! So true. The day ended with one of my kids kicking me and breaking my toenail and one of their little friends asking if I was pregnant (that’s a big no). Children are roses, all of them, with big mangly thorns.

    • Oh, that’s perfect. Children are roses with big mangly thorns. Somehow it’s the accidental injuries that are the hardest to bear. My kids are all teens or slightly older, but I lowered my expectations years ago in self-defense. I don’t cook, everyone goes to church, and I pick the restaurant for lunch.

  15. YAS! So relieved that mothers-of-adults actually have a shot at enjoying Mother’s Day. I helped my kids bake brownies, and for my efforts got Mother’s Day ants.
    As mother of an infant, I applaud you moms who manage to go on knitting! How DO you do it one-handed?!

  16. Ah! such a wonderful day, and we thank them for allowing you a little more time here on earth to tell us all your stories. Cheers for all Mothers, wherever they may be!

  17. Such a great post. I’m pregnant with my first baby and love the brutal honesty about motherhood that seems to be not kept under wraps any more. I’m looking forward to the whole process – and knowing that I’m not alone in worrying about it as well, helps.

  18. This year we spent Mother’s Day in emerg getting x-rays to see if our daughter broke her arm falling off the swing set (thankfully, it turned out that she didn’t). Hubby cooked “brunch” at 4pm when we finally got home. 🙂 Could have been worse!

  19. Perfectly said! Thank you. Motherhood is messy business. We did manage a (mostly) lovely hike and lunch out. I’m so glad my youngest is 6 and my oldest has not yet hit puberty! I’ll enjoy these short years while they last.

    • Oh, enjoy those years. Years 4-11 are the best; after that, it’s down hill all the way. Kids are in their 40s and I’m still recovering and they have not a clue.

  20. Luis is going to be telling that tale to the mother of his own children someday…too funny. And too perfect.

    And thank you for being another mother who got pancakes in bed–actually, that one time, one very tiny pancake, the rest were burned or eaten–and syrup spilled (all over me and the bed, in my case, and it was already time to leave for church by that point) while not actually preferring pancakes but playing along.

  21. Ah…Mother’s Day….after raising my three sons, I am now a Mum again having become the legal guardian to my two 11-yo grandsons after my son and his wife passed away within a year of each other. Link arms and be strong.

  22. My husband gave me one birthstone ring for each of my children. He thought it was cute to put the rings on necklaces and let my three year old twins walk out and show me their necklaces to present them to me. He didn’t think about how mad they would get when I took the rings off the necklaces….so we ended up with 2 kids on the floor throwing a tantrum. Sometimes you just have to laugh and try not to take it too seriously. Thanks for the reminder.

  23. My favorite Mother’s Day has to be the year my then 3 yr old woke me up at 5 am. He was standing by my bed with a Pop-Tart because he wanted to bring me breakfast in bed. Pure sweetness. And no mess to clean up from pancake attempts!

  24. I guess 15 and 18 aren’t adults…
    My husband never did get it, but does enjoy making dinner.
    I’m trying to remain positive about a day where all I heard about Brunch, where we had to sit in the bar, because nobody knew Mother’s Day Brunch was such a big deal and therefore did not make the reservation for the Dining Room with the other moms, was, “Sorry that was so lame. ” And, “Boy was that ever expensive!” Sigh.
    I sat with my knitting and caught up on the Voice; that was nice.
    Motherhood is not for the light-hearted.

  25. My husband, who is my 2nd husband, likes to announce every mothers day, that I am neither HIS mother nor the mother of his children therefore he is not obligated to do anything for me on mothers day. I only cooked meals for his son while they lived with us for 10 years after we got married, but hey, like you said, its complicated. and some things are just better left alone.

    • Raised two stepsons from the ages of 3 and 6 to adulthood and no children of my own. Never a how do you do on Mother’s Day…..

      • Wow, both of these posts really bother me.
        There is cluelessness. Then there is pig-ignorance to the point of cruelty.

        Respect and thanks to both of you, for all the unacknowledged mothering that you provided.

  26. Laughing right now because (in addition to a dandelion bouquet) the weekend for us was all Soccer, Soccer, Soccer & Soccer pictures. Thankfully I got to play a game with my own team as well as coaching & bringing the snack for the kids (the grownups go out for pizza after instead of fussing about with oranges). Also, thank goodness for mandarin oranges, which have quite recently become available during soccer season. Cut open the bag & prep is done!

  27. It was! I got wet Kisses, tight 3-year-old and 6-almost-7-year-old Hugs and a My Little Pony coloring picture among other things. And then the laundry happened, as usual in the weekend. Had a lovely day, good to hear yours was wonderful too!

  28. I love Katie’s comment…. my husband was a little worried about the day as he had a reception he had to go to. However, I pointed out that I was not his mother, I was his wife and so he should leave it up to the adult children. His role is important – but mostly to stop me from carrying through on the threats to move out (which I have often done – and often at 3:00 in the morning.

  29. I just celebrated/endured my 42nd Mother’s Day. It was a first for not being one bit pissadointing. I spent 8 hours driving out of town and back with my brother to be with our mother and when I arrived home 4 of my 5 children (one is studying out of province) and my one grandchild were there with dinner made and table set, with flowers! Then we played a game of What? and the out-of-province son joined in on face time, texting his answers in. It was AWESOME. Most of my mother’s days have been of the other kind. I’m so glad I endured 42 years without killing anyone.

  30. My friend Kathy sent me the link to your Mother’s Day post because mine was…well, you can guess. The best I can say is that it was a mixed bag. Lower standards and I usually get along wonderfully but this year it was just all too much. Thanks for the reminder, and for framing it so beautifully.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  31. Wow, you really hit the nail on the head with this post. It was my last Mother’s Day with both kids living at home (probably) and not compounded with my birthday (which sometimes lands on the same day), and even so, there was some yelling, some guilt, some anger, but fortunately also some love. My youngest says she doesn’t want to have kids. Can I blame her?

  32. “Lower standards are your friends.” Lol, so true.
    While I expect high standards when it comes to how my kids treat themselves and how they live their lives, I do so much expect nothing from them. I agree, they won’t really “see” until they are grown and possibly not until they are parents themselves.

  33. Katie rocks, just sayin! A seasoned vet of lowering expectations here, as well as a realist, makes it all much easier for sure.

  34. This Mother’s Day was also my birthday. I doubled down on the potential for disaster. I escaped to my workroom and wound yarn on my brand new ball winder! All went well and dinner out was excellent. I think my husband bribed our daughter to be good. 🙂

  35. I’m just glad that cards these days give us options – not all are hearts-and-flowers and saccharine sentiment, because that was never my mother, and it would feel false to give such a card. So, humour saves us all.

  36. The girls are of course gorgeous, but the photo should be of their Mum.

    I have a writer friend who said something once about making sure she was in more photos because — oh. Never mind.

  37. Another first for Mother’s Day this year. I’ve experienced everything you described Stephanie, but after 65 years, this was my first Mother’s Day without my mum. I didn’t want to celebrate, and my kids understood. My son suggested a joint Mother’s/Father’s Day in June. It was just another Sunday, I thought about Mum, and next year we can probably go back to separate celebrations. This was just the way it had to be in 2015.

  38. Perfect!

    The only thing that could have made this perfecter would have been publishing it the day BEFORE Mother’s Day, and hopeful expectations!

  39. If we learn anything, it’s that Life is fluid. And imperfect. This year…pretty good. Two grown wonderful daughters with fine husbands, 6 beautiful grandchildren, a husband who values me, and a 93 year old mother of my own who needs me more and more to mother her. Can’t tell how many more Mother’s Days I will spend with her, so anything that’s called for these days is okay with me. It all comes around in the end. Love it as best you can.

  40. My absolute favorite mother’s day was the one where my ex had the kids.

    I woke up next to my then-boyfriend. He got me coffee, then made me breakfast. We watched Netflix, then he chilled out while I played Fallout 3. Then, we went over to my mother’s where we got drunk on cocktails he cranked out.

    No begging my younger child to put a pause on her swath of destruction. No shouting at my older to stop being a snot. No prodding at them to eat their darn dinner. Just me and a day of relaxation.

  41. As the mother of four adult children, the stepmother of three adult children and the daughter of a mother with dementia, it is a complicated and painful day. I survived another—and admit there is a slight ache and longing for the less complicated years of no money, fighting little ones and laundering vomit covered sheets at 3a.m.

  42. Laughing out loud!!!!
    That is motherhood in a blog post to be sure.

    There have been many a time I’d wished that motherhood had never darkened my door and then other times it’s made my life all the better.

    My only objection to these “holidays” is the mandatory expectations they put on all of us. Oh well, Fathers Day will be here soon – must thing of some way to celebrate it . . .

  43. I became a mother 32 years ago and have often had very mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. When my kids were young, I thought something was wrong with me because I felt sad, disappointed, and even angry on Mother’s Day. Thank you for writing with such honesty.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only person who thought she was doing something wrong to be crying and/or angry on Mother’s Day. This year I shamed my daughter who called but didn’t send a card, hollered at my husband who was three days behind me getting over the flu in full-Camille mode, and cried all over my son and daughter-in-law. All in all, a normal Mother’s Day. I’m blaming the flu.

  44. Thank you, thank you, thank you! My kids are 8, 5 and 3 and I completely relate to your post and flashbacks. It is wonderful to know that you (and others) have felt this way, too!

  45. “…those moments where sunshine is streaming through a window, while you and a throng of sweet, charming children make dinner from scratch while discussing the stuff that will shape them as people…” I think that happened to me once…in a dream. This piece is so great. It really is.

  46. Thank you for this. Even though I never have a good mothers day, I still expect that I will? I vow next year to stay off line (as not to see pics of people obviously enjoying their mothers day) and drop the expectations.
    Also, even though my actual child was beastly, my mama gave me a hundred dollars towards a new spinning wheel. Grown ups obviously know how to celebrate things correctly

  47. I don’t much like Mother’s Day. My son, fifteen, apologized for not getting me a gift and I told him he gives me the gift of appreciating me all year long, don’t sweat one gift on someone else’s pre-determined day. But it is very important to my mum and since I know mums don’t last forever, we offered to host the family gathering she loves. It was inconvenient. I had a busy busy Saturday, my husband had to work, there were errands to run and my daughter’s birthday party and a funeral to attend.
    Three things came out of it. One, I arrived home halfway through my Saturday rush to find that my son had cleaned house for me – living room and bathroom squalor tamed – unasked. I was so thankful. He is not perfect, neither is his mother, we managed to squeeze in a good old-fashioned bicker-fest over crepe cooking technique on Sunday in front of the whole gathering, but he really came through when I needed help. Two, my mother had a great time, surrounded by her children and grandchildren who love and appreciate her and don’t be-grudge her Mother’s Day needs. Third, my thoughts were caught up with the mother of the young man whose funeral I attended and her first Mother’s Day without him. We have to find time to celebrate and appreciate each other when we can. I’m glad I did.

  48. Yep, I agree with all the above and yet, my 16 year daughter who is deep into eye rolling and kvetching at me, used her own money to buy a plant and candle and painted a card for me. Tomorrow we will argue and snap at each other, but I’m keeping that card forever!

  49. I had one of those Mother’s Days that make it all worthwhile. My son is an actor and has struggled for a lot of years honing his craft. His gift to me this year is an audition for the masters programme at RADA in London. His father and I are so proud.

  50. In Norway the mothers’s day is in February, but our national day is May 17, and I have those exact feelings about it. Our national day sure is different – it’s a day of parades, but not military parades, children parades! Every school and class have banners, kindergarten as well. They march, there are brass bands playing the national anthem and other songs, and everyone are out watching. People wear their best clothes, national costumes if they own one. Norwegian flags everywhere, and the royal family greet the parades in the capital from the castle. After the parades there are games and fun stuff for the children at their schools. The day is considered a day for children, yet I have such huge expectations that those years where the fun ended in loud arguments, crying and/or screaming, I’ve felt terrible. Apparantly almost 18 years of motherhood have not taught me to just relax and lower my expectations. Thanks for your honest words.

  51. Utterly amazing! Best summation of Mother’s Day ever. And I, with a three year old and almost one year old, am on the other end of the Mother’s Day spectrum, and well, it wasn’t so terrible.

  52. This was the first Mother’s Day since my husband passed away last Summer. Our four kids are now 2-14 and I thought this would be the absolute worst Mother’s Day of my life, barring any other unforeseen hazards of life. Then, my MIL and I independently had the same thought, and sent each OTHER flowers from the same florist he always used. I had a happy cry, then.
    You can bet my expectations were low going into it, but it was so wonderful to be wrong!

  53. Complicated. Amazing. Heartbreaking. Worth every single moment. LOVED your post. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, both with us and watching over us.

  54. Beautifully said (as usual !!)
    My children arrived as wedding gifts, ages 6 & 13, coming along with their Dad. Their Mom was still in the picture, just miles away getting her stuff together. I’d had this beautiful thought of bonding with them and being Carol Brady but nobody told me that motherhood was equal parts exhausting, terror, anger and omg disgusting. I remember the first time I called my own mother in tears over how to deal with a screaming teenager and 9 year old with diarrhea all in the same call (for the record my mother laughed at me. Can you imagine???)
    It’s years later and the 6 year old is a man of 19 and the 13 year old is a Mom in her own right and I’m proudly called Grandma. Their birth mother and I have become good friends and it’s HER mother I call mother in law. These are not my stepchildren but my children, born of my heart just not of my body. I couldn’t love them more had I labored for hours to bring them here and am given grand love in return. My son gave me a card this year that said “Thank you for everything…I love you” and I’m reminded again just how lucky I am.

    • Oh, the THEN 13 year old is now a mother. I read this as the then 6 yr old is now a 13 year old mother. I was thinking she’s very fortunate that you’re so supportive. Anyway. .. it’s wonderful that everything has worked out so well for your family 🙂

  55. I heard lately this phrase –

    You’re a mum, you know.

    I never wanted my children to feel they have to do a big fuss for mother’s day because my mum kinda spoiled that for me, but I was sure glad they both phoned from different parts of the country to say hi.

  56. Have you been living in my neighborhood all these years? I thought you were Canadian…you described our past Mother’s Days so clearly! My ‘boys’ are now 31 and 33. They both live in different parts of New England, I am in PA. They both called me and both asked when we were coming to visit this summer…the miss us. And, can I bring my sewing machine…. They LOVE me!

  57. With much thanks for keeping it real and portraying the delicate balance that motherhood is. 🙂

  58. So so true! Your 3 girls are just gorgeous and how lovely to have breakfast in bed (although washing the floor part tends to happen quite a bit around here with the stickiness of the floor). At least when they are mothers themselves they understand so much more dont they!

  59. Thank you for such a lovely post. I usually spend my mother’s day just being a mother, which means so many of the things that you mentioned.

  60. So … at least you didn’t have to go through many BIBs that had to spell out M_O_T_H_E_R in my case Milk, Orange juice, Toast, Ham, Eggs, Raspberry jam. You will note the LARGE lack of C … i.e. coffee.

  61. I hear Steph, however, I was really hoping to hear your dandelion story. So let me share mine with you. When my 29 year old daughter was 5ish she came in the house with a extremely large dandelion and another only slightly smaller one. We are talking about 5 -6 ” across. She proudly stood in the doorway with the biggest smile and presented me with the King and Queen of the dandelions then grabbed my hand. She pulled me onto the deck and in true Vanna White tradition, swept her hand across the yard, saying “And these are all their peasants”.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  62. Every one of your posts makes me happy (and I’m not even a knitter!), but this one takes the cake. Thank you!
    —from a mother of 3, ages 13-19, who got to sleep in on Mother’s Day because duh. Like anyone gets up before 10 on a Sunday anymore around here.

  63. Thank you for this. Not because my first Mother’s Day wasn’t wonderful but because this whole motherhood thing is kicking my ass.

  64. My sons are grown so Mother’s Day is quite nice now. My first Mother’s Day 27 years ago however was a hot mess. Unbeknownst to me, our neighbor exposed my baby to chicken pox because “it’s easier when they are babies.” What she didn’t know was that I had not had them. I will never forget nursing while both of us were covered in chicken pox! I suspect it was also my mom’s worse Mother’s Day since she was taking care of us. Any Mother’s Day without insane itching is a good Mother’s Day! Thanks for the wonderful post about real moms.

  65. Glad to hear you had an enjoyable Mom’s Day. Your post jogged so many memories of stuff my Mom, StepMom, GrandMoms, and other Moms in my life have experienced, encountered, and/or endured! (As an example, one of Mom’s was getting breakfast in bed — only to have her dog start eating the breakfast before she could!)

    P.S.: Why are the Daughters not under contract to be models/spokeswomen for some big-name line of skin care products or cosmetics! Someone call Revlon or L’Oreal or whoever and demand an answer NOW!!!

  66. I wonder if your mothers days would improve if you just went out with your family for that day. Maybe not expect the whole day to be yours (which, I agree, is a ridiculous and outrageous thought). My Mother has Long ago decided that we ARE going to walk to one of her favorite restaurants (which ends up being a long-ish walk, though she doesn’t mind because she likes walks….. cater to your needs) and we have brunch. And, well, that’s about it. It’s sad, really. She has 6 of us, and we can’t even pay for her meal… (she and my dad pays) but it ends up being peaceful, at LEAST. (sigh) I’d give her flowers, but she prefers my dad’s roses.

  67. Thank you, Stephanie for your marvelous post. Mothers’ Day really is a mixed bag for most of us, and lowered expectations is truly the way to go. My daughter loves to tell my grandkids who are now 22 and 24 the story of their grandmother remarking that she didn’t want to be “one of those dowagers in the restaurant with a corsage over her left boob” on Mothers’ Day. Thankfully, it never happened! I live 500 miles away and this year the gorgeous bouquet of tulips arrived on Friday.

  68. Well, that was so helpful! I have snuck away quietly for a little “emotional re-alignment” at least once every single Mothers Day for the last 21 years. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one.
    I propose a secret “Post Mother’s Day” celebration in which all the moms get the house all to ourselves for 12 hours of peaceful knitting.

  69. My husband taught our 6 1/2 month old to say “mama” for Mother’s Day. But he started saying it a day early, on Saturday, instead. Hilarious. Best gift ever for my first Mother’s Day.

  70. Lovely post. Why should there have to be a “day” to be nice? I’ve never been hung up on it but my mom thinks it’s a precious day and we all need to be with her. Even though the three of us live 2-3 hours away from her in opposite directions.

    This year as she teters on the edge of Alzheimer’s, it was important to be with her. I rented two co-op units on the beach near my house, thus relieving me of the stress and shame of cleaning my cluttered home, and everybody came out and it was perfect. We ate and drank and talked a lot. We had massages and shopped in the local thrift shop and book store. I had her try on the sweater I am knitting for her (only the last sleeve to go and I have plenty of yarn left so no drama there).
    My kids (14 and 21) had handmade gifts for grandma and their aunts. Now that Mother’s Day is so easy, my mom is leaving me. Not fair.

  71. It was. My husband looked at me and said, ” Oh, I meant to remind her.” I said, “She’s a grown up and an engineer. They trust her with big equipment. If she can’t remember it’s her problem, not yours.” Of course, she didn’t call. He did nothing. I will, like always do something nice for Father’s Day. I am only a little bitter.

  72. Thanks for this. Having a really bad day due to huge fight with youngest about YES HE DOES HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL. Thank you from him, too, for letting me know that there are good days in the future if I don’t kill him now.

  73. Oh, such a complicated day! For years before I was a mother (but yearned to be), Mother’s Day was extremely painful. Then, after adopting my daughter I tried to mark the day with planting flowers together and later, a ‘Mother’s Day’ bike ride (even though she doesn’t like bike riding that much). For a few years I preferred having the day to myself away from my complicated and challenging daughter. This year she had her prom the day before Mother’s Day, a hard-won milestone for her (and me) after a very difficult year emotionally. After I helped her get ready and took pictures, I thought that that was my Mother’s Day gift, a chance for her to do some normal teenage stuff and enjoy herself. On the actual day I only got a cursory “Happy Mother’s Day” but since I didn’t expect anything else it was less disappointing. Perhaps in a few more years I’ll get the adult version, with more gratitude and maybe some flowers. But truly, if you’re in it for the gratitude you’ll only be disappointed. It’s recognizing the little triumphs of our kids that is the true reward.

  74. “Giving you life was the easy part” and Katie held her glass aloft and said “You should really be thanking us for not taking it back again.”

    Hilarious! I can remember a Bill Cosby routine years ago where he repeated what his mother said – “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”

  75. So glad I don’t have high expectations. It is just a set up for failure. My boys bought me lunch on Saturday and Sunday (Steak N Shake and Taco Bell, but hey, that’s what we wanted). My grandson was over all weekend and we made some great things for his mum, my daughter, who had to work until 10 every day this weekend. You know, sometimes you gotta give up all the rosy ideals and live in the reality. I love that my boys spent time with me and we had fun with my grandson, their nephew. No crying, no fussing, just lots of fun. Isn’t that the way it should be?

  76. Mother’s Day, and how I survive it:
    – no day is perfect
    – remember being little and excited about having made something for someone?! no matter what you are presented with, smile, act excited and thank the little one graciously… display the object when the little one is near
    – if the kids are too little and the husband or ex- are too self-absorbed to buy an appropriate gift, buy yourself one, wrap it ahead of time, and then after the craft gifts, bring it out with aplomb and invite the little ones to open it with you, and thank them profusely! (or, take them to a shop they love and coach them through choosing weeks ahead of time… or, perhaps, enlist a sister or close friend)
    – ensure some alone time to deal with any feelings that arise, positive or negative!
    – you know how things like social media affect you best of all… so, consider a day unplugged, or take every picture-perfect post with a huge grain of salt!
    That is how I treat both birthdays and Mother’s Day about now, as the single mom of a 3-year-old and 6-year-old… and you know? It was a good day, not a perfect day, perhaps one that I won’t really remember unless I look back at photos, but there were hugs and a dandelion bouquet and time to knit. We’ll go out when it is not busy. 😉

  77. Spot on again! This year’s Mother’s Day was an all out effort to get my husband packed for going to Brimfield Antique Show. This meant sort of cleaning our new camper, stocking it with some supplies, going to the store to get shelf ready supplies (he wasn’t sure if there was electric supply where he was going), washing up more antiques and getting them stashed into the trailer, finishing with the trailer lights not coming on (easily fixed…a grounding issue). Our daughter got me a zero gravity lounger (I suspect it may be the perfect knitting spot if it warms up again) and is taking me out to lunch later this week. Personally, that sounds about perfect!

  78. Thank you very much for this post. I do my best to keep my expectations low. My husband is not a flowers and cards kind of guy (accepted long ago, and not a problem). But even my low expectations were not met this year. My kids behaved miserably and by the end of the day I cooked dinner because I was in too bad of a mood to go out. My one goal for the day is not to cook, and that was busted by breakfast.

    For a regular Sunday, it was bad, but the layer of emotion added because it was Mother’s Day made it harder to bear. And then, our washing machine died.

    At least I had my knitting once the tantruming two were in bed…

  79. Thank you so much for this post. I had a fairly miserable Mother’s Day, and it makes me feel so much better to know that that is more the norm than a “happy” mother’s day. Thanks again and again!!

  80. Oh Stephanie I just love you.
    I felt exactly like this for years and thought I was odd. It’s similar to the Christmas thing all the family together that would not spend 5 mins together any other time.
    I was a bit ahead in realising at about 17 yrs I think.:-)
    Not mothers day here but thank you.x

  81. This was my first Mother’s Day without my mother and my late first husband’s mother, they died a few months apart at the end of last year. This Mothers Day was a hard one to put it mildly. My second husband and I traveled across the USA to visit his mom who is experiencing memory issues and is increasingly frail. My son called me and we had a nice talk. It was as good a day as possible under the circumstances. I had no expectations that I would have a nice day, I just wanted to get through it. Loved reading your post, it really helped me with perspective. Thanks

  82. Yes, many of your points were valid; but as others have mentioned, if you have lost a mother, recently or in the recent past, the day also is a day of memory. Not that you don’t think of them on a daily basis, but that once you had a mother, your children a grandmother, and now they are gone. It puts a very different tone on things, but the temer of the day changes just a bit.

  83. In Poland, where I come from, Mother’s Day is celebrated in May, whereas in Ireland, where I currently live it is in March/April (4th Sunday of Lent). Maybe that’s why I never bother about it and it always catches me by surprise.
    My daughters are little, so it’s time of maccaroni bracelets and another gifts of the sort, but this year my daughter presented me with a mother’s survival kit. A small box, she made it herself, packed with a marble (in case somebody tells you you lost yours), three straws (so that you’re never down to the final one) and a kiss (painted) so that you remember I love you.
    I’m pretty sure it was the teacher’s idea, but still it made me feel all warm inside. Somebody understands 🙂

  84. This one was a non-event, as most of them have been. I’m the mother of two boys and while my husband was alive he marshalled them into making an effort, but before him, and after him, it was just another day on the calendar.

    The best I can say is that it was better than the one in 2011 when my youngest son phoned up from his girlfriend’s house to say that he was going to go to school in the city and move in with his girlfriend’s family, and would I please sign over guardianship of him to her mother? (Evidently forgetting the $25,000 in lawyers’ fees and years of struggle I spent getting sole custody of him after I divorced his father). That was the low point. Now, even if they don’t celebrate me, at least they don’t make a mess of the day either.

  85. I got the perfect gift for my Mother’s Day — a new toilet three inches higher than the old to help save my arthritic knees. The cashier at the hardware store thought it was hilarious. A son and two granddaughters installed it, and while they painstakingly bonded, I sat in my recliner and calmly knit.

  86. So spot on! I forwarded to my sister-in-law since we had a conversation about Mother’s Day talking about these points — her kids were AWFUL on Mother’s Day and she was just exhausted at the end. Stephanie, you are so great with words and she will appreciate reading this!

  87. Being that my boys are 5 & 7, I can completely relate. I think when kids are little it’s more about your partner stepping up to say “Thanks for everything you’ve done for these little creatures we made.” Mine hasn’t always been great at that, but this year he was just coming off several weeks of illness when I had literally been waiting on him because he couldn’t do everything himself. I think it helped, because it’s probably the first mother’s day I had that has actually been memorable.

    I actually got to a) stay in bed until 8:45! (This is epic. Most mornings I don’t make it to 6 am without someone, feline or human, bothering me about breakfast); b) sit and knit for a few hours without interruption; c) had my eldest read me an absolutely sappy book he wrote in class that I will keep forever and read in public when is a teenager and doesn’t want to be anywhere near me; d) had about 2 dozen red balloons with hearts on them thrown into my room at breakfast time, as a physical demonstration of how much they love me. Yes, the boys then jumped all over my room whacking balloons, while their dad said he “hadn’t expected them to get so rowdy (He is the eldest of three boys, so I don’t believe that for a second).” Overall, it was surprisingly sweet. And I made it to mid-afternoon before my day got all “normal” again, so I’ll take it as a win.

    As I post this, its 5:24 am, and my lap has just acquired a 5-year-old. And he brought cars. Happy motherhood.

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