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Managing Expectations for Mother’s Day

Break down these 3 barriers so you can all win and feel the love!

Have you ever asked your spouse what they plan on doing for you on Mother’s Day? Raise your hand if they’ve replied:

Shoot… Is that THIS weekend? 

or

Whatever you want to do, Babe.

or

Umm… nothing. You’re not my mom. 

All wrong answers. That sinking feeling of being unappreciated, taken for granted and forgotten drowns out any last-minute plans they may try to scramble together. The damage has been done. 

Your expectations to be thought of and celebrated have been shattered to dust. And if this isn’t the first, second, or third offense, you may even feel numb to it now. Disappointment is inevitable. No point in getting your hopes up, right?

You’ve probably figured out by now that motherhood is a thankless job. It’s not just what you do – it becomes who you are. It’s like breathing… and it’s natural, instinctual, automatic. But it’s also grueling, emotional and exhausting. So having your family acknowledge all that hard work AND celebrate it one day out of the entire year is not asking for too much. 

But what trips up most couples is actually that – the ASKING part. “What are you going to do for me?” is a loaded question if you already have unspoken expectations of what you want.

But shouldn’t my spouse care enough to look at a calendar and plan ahead? Shouldn’t they know me well enough to know what I’d want to do/how I’d like to be celebrated? Shouldn’t they realize that even though I’m not THEIR mother, I’m a mother, and that’s what this holiday is all about?!

First, that’s a lot of shoulding… So let’s break down some expectation barriers together so we can all win on Mother’s Day.

Barrier #1: You expect your spouse to think and act like you.

It’s easy to believe that everyone (including your spouse) sees the world the way you do. This sets you up for some pretty unrealistic expectations and 

disappointment. You want your spouse to magically know and do exactly what you would do (and probably are doing for your own mother). Maybe you expect them to…

  • Speak the same love language as you. For example: Your spouse may think a signed card shows they care, while you long for a handwritten, thoughtful love letter. Or they may think flowers are the universal language of love, but you find them impractical and a waste of money. Or they may tell you to take the “day-off” and go get a massage or do your nails or whatever you want… but your love language is Quality Time, and you want to celebrate with your family (without any of the normal responsibilities of motherhood…)
  • Have the same skills as you. For example: Your spouse is a spontaneous, in-the-moment kind of person. They don’t enjoy planning. So they wait ‘til the last minute to figure out what to do. But this seems lazy or unthoughtful to you (a planner) when really, it’s their natural temperament. Or they are very logical, and thinking of creative ways to show love is like speaking a foreign language to them. So they get you a super practical gift like new towels or a car charger when you want something meaningful.

Break down the barrier by realizing that your spouse is a unique individual.

They are not YOU. And that’s a good thing! Our differences make us stronger. Talk about your differences. You most likely are speaking different love languages, so discover what each other’s love language is and try to speak it fluently and frequently. If you already know each other’s love languages, a simple reminder can go a long way! 

Barrier #2: You expect your spouse to read your mind.

Whether you’ve been together for 3 years or 30… your spouse cannot read your mind. We joke about this – but when was the last time you’ve thought or said, “You should know what I like! I’ve only told you 1 million times!”? Been there, said that way too often.

The real issue here is that you long to feel seen, understood, and known deeply. This requires intentionally working on your emotional intimacy, which is an ongoing process of growing in your understanding of each other’s feelings, hopes, dreams, fears, motivations, etc. You know what you want and need. But it changes over time and throughout different seasons of life. 

Break down the barrier by telling your spouse exactly what you’d like for Mother’s Day and why it’s so important to you.

Sharing what would make you feel the most acknowledged, valued and celebrated doesn’t diminish your spouse’s effort; it encourages it. The more you tell your spouse how you feel loved the most and why, the more your spouse has the chance to love you in that way… and the deeper your emotional intimacy will grow.1 This doesn’t mean you have to plan the whole day. You just have to clearly communicate what you want or need. Leave the little details up to your spouse! 

Barrier #3: You expect your spouse to be perfect.

No matter how hard your spouse tries, they’ll never be perfect. Expecting perfection sets unrealistic standards that will make them believe they aren’t good enough. It’ll push them away, and you’ll end up experiencing the opposite of what you wanted to feel.

Break down the barrier by realizing that your expectations may be unrealistic.

Take a moment. See if maybe you’re setting the bar too high so that it feels out of reach to your spouse. Have you criticized their efforts in the past? If you have, there’s a good chance they don’t want to fail again (and maybe they think they can’t fail if they don’t even try…). Think about what your spouse is good at and enjoys doing – that still fills your love tank. Telling them exactly how you’d feel loved and appreciated will set them up for success and set your expectations at a realistic level. 

So this year, instead of asking what your spouse will do, try telling them what you’d like to do first. 

Take the pressure off of them to decode your side-eye sighs and do your spouse a favor:

  1. Spell it out.
  2. Be clear and specific before any resentment starts to build. If you’re a planner, talk about it a couple of weeks in advance.
  3. If you like surprises, give your spouse a few options for things you’d like to do and let them choose!  

You DESERVE to be celebrated, Mama. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity for your husband and family to do that. So be honest and open about what would make you feel appreciated and loved. 

Source

1McNulty, J.K., et al. (2004). Positive Expectations in the Early Years of Marriage: Should Couples Expect the Best or Brace for the Worst? 

Easy Ways to Make Your Wife Feel Loved on Mother’s Day

Celebrate and appreciate Mom for who she is and all she does.

It’s May, and you know what that means… Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the women who have been influential in our lives. My mom, grandmothers, and mother-in-law have been significant in shaping me into the person I am. 

But, this day is about all the moms in my life. And my wife is the most significant mom (don’t worry, my mom knows it’s true). She’s the one I chose to do life with. She’s the one who made me a dad. So, celebrate your mom, grandmothers, and mother-in-law, but also celebrate your wife. And I don’t mean just helping the kids make her feel special. Guys, you should make her feel all the love as well. 

Here are some ideas to help you make sure that your wife feels all the love this Mother’s Day:

  • Make a video asking your kids what Mom means to them. Here are some questions to kick you off. What does Mom say the most? What is Mom’s favorite thing to do? Of all the things you love about Mom, what do you love the most?
  • Have the kids create a song about Mom and perform it for her on Mother’s Day. 
  • Help the kids make her breakfast or lunch. It doesn’t have to be extravagant… just from the heart. Let the kids lead out and choose what they want to make.
  • Let her sleep in on Mother’s Day. This is a big win in my house. We all know moms need rest.
  • In-Home Spa Day, anyone? My 6-year-old likes to paint nails and give foot rubs. You can all pamper Mom as a family.
  • Homemade cards are always a win. Encourage the kids to make cards that represent their personalities.
  • Does Mom love to travel? Spring is an excellent time for a day trip. What’s within driving distance in your area that she would love to visit?
  • Is Mom crafty? What is her favorite craft? Whether she likes to paint, knit, or anything else, get some supplies together and create as a family. 
  • Does Mom love movies? Watch her favorite movie as a family. Create a movie theater experience for her, complete with popcorn and her favorite snacks.

Here are a few more ideas specifically for you fellas:

  • Plan a date night or weekend getaway for just the two of you. Work out the details yourself.
  • Be intentional about speaking her love language on Mother’s Day. 
  • Give her a massage. I don’t just mean a shoulder rub. Break out the massage oil and pamper her.
  • Clean the house. Moms often feel the pressure to have a clean house. Take care of this for her.

Most importantly, let’s show Mom that she is loved and appreciated.

Research shows four factors had more effects on helping moms feel supported in well-being and parenting:

  1. Feeling loved unconditionally.
  2. Feeling comforted in distress.
  3. Authenticity in relationships.
  4. Satisfaction with friendships.

I’ve learned over the years (from both my mom and my wife) that celebrating Mom is less about the cost and more about the thought and heart that’s put into the gift. That’s what matters most. 

Don’t let anything stop you. Make this the best Mother’s Day ever!

Sources:

Who mothers mommy? Factors that contribute to mothers’ well-being. Dev Psychol. 2015 December ; 51(12): 1812–1823.

Other blogs:

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day With a Difficult Mom – First Things First

Mom, Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Celebrated – First Things First

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Mom, Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Celebrated

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard.

Parenting is difficult. Being a mother is especially difficult. Mothers often take or are given the responsibility for the success and/or failure of their children. So, mothers may feel disingenuous being celebrated. Mother’s Day, in particular, brings along its own set of expectations for moms. 

For some moms, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate “perfect moms” who do it all right, all the time. The struggle comes when a mom believes she is the only one who seems to not be perfect. In her mind, she focuses on what she isn’t doing, hasn’t done, or can’t do. 

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard. 

Here are some reasons why you, as a mom, should be celebrated.

1. You are doing a valuable job.

Many people think for something to be valuable, it has to be worth something tangible, like money. However, you can’t place a price tag on being a mother. Motherhood is priceless. Throughout the years of motherhood, there’s a plethora of roles and responsibilities. Yet, the main goal is to raise your child to become an independent, responsible ADULT. 

2. Being a mother is hard work.

I am the mother of 3 sons. One day, my middle son asked me, “Is it hard being a mom?” I thought for a minute. My answer to him was, “Yes, it’s hard, but what’s really hard is being 3 different moms at the same time.” 

I explained to him that I have to be Mom for each of them. How I discipline, communicate, and interact is different for each one. Recognizing that I have to mother (parent) them as individuals, not as a group, takes time, energy, effort, and focus. 

3. You are the mother your children need.

As mothers, we worry about making sure that our children have what they need. Or are we concerned about what they want? We don’t want them to feel like they don’t have what all their friends have, from shoes and clothes to gaming systems and vacations. What our children need from us includes our time, love, attention, affection, presence, and guidance. 

4. You have endured.

Whether your children are toddlers, teens, or adults you have made it to this point. You may have survived things like sleepless nights, cranky babies, temperamental teens, tantrums, and many, many other things. You’ve made it past showerless days and puke-scented clothing. There is value in looking back and naming what you and your child(ren) have survived in your parenting journey. If you are honest, there could have been times you didn’t think you would make it. 

You are not alone. 

We’ve all had moments of fear, anxiety, frustrations, and anger. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. You are just a mom who is trying to “keep it in the road.” 

Remember, perfection isn’t the standard. 

If you survive, you have won.

5. You DESERVE it.

Moms can be some of the worst at accepting praise and celebration. We struggle with thinking that we don’t need to be rewarded or celebrated for what moms are supposed to do. Or the other thought process is that we don’t deserve to be celebrated. 

I had a friend lovingly confront me with this question: “Would you rather be tolerated by your family or celebrated by your family?” 

Please, please, please allow your friends and family to appreciate you. 

You definitely DESERVE it.

Other helpful blogs:

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day With a Difficult Mom

These tips may make it a little easier.

Whether your relationship with your mom is a tad problematic or off-the-charts unhealthy, celebrating your mom on Mother’s Day can be difficult.

She might get on your nerves or make you feel like she’s constantly judging you. 

Maybe you think your mom is a horrible parent, or you had a misunderstanding that seems impossible to overcome — and nobody wants to make the first move toward reconciliation. 

Perhaps the pain is so deep that you can’t forgive or move forward. Or maybe you feel your mom is toxic, and cutting her out of your life seems like the safest thing to do emotionally. [Read 4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety.]

It’s a tough road to walk. And it makes Mother’s Day tricky to celebrate.

But whether you choose to visit your mom or stay far away for the holiday, chances are you’ll be thinking of each other in some way.

Whatever your situation, thinking about these six things may make it a bit easier to find some way to celebrate a difficult mom on Mother’s Day. 

(Notice I said “may” and “easier” — not “definitely” OR “easy.” And there’s no excuse for abusive behavior. If that has happened to you, I’m so sorry!)

1. If you’re expecting perfection, you’ll be disappointed.

Here’s the thing: Nobody has a perfect mother. And nobody can be the perfect mother. But we all probably have an idea of what the perfect mother would look like. Unfortunately, our ideals often cause us to have unrealistic expectations that no one can meet. (Unless you’re married and your mother-in-law is perfect. That’s a whole other issue.)

2. Appreciate what you can.

There’s always something to be thankful for (at least according to Pollyanna). So, dig deep and think of what those things could be. Celebrate them, no matter how small. I recently went through some memorabilia my mom collected throughout the years. I found little love notes and cards I wrote my mom as a child. It reminded me that at one time, I thought she hung the moon. 

3. Celebrate your mom for who you want her to be.

She might surprise you and rise to meet the challenge. You may need to use your imagination. Maybe you can’t honestly tell your mom how great she is, but you might be able to write her a letter, or send a card or text to say you’re thinking of her on Mother’s Day. (Even if your thoughts aren’t that great, it’s a start.)

4. Time changes people and perceptions.

As a child, did you ever think your mom didn’t know anything? Did your perspective change when you realized being an adult was a little more… complicated? I can tell you from experience that I see things differently as an adult. I learned some things I didn’t know. My perspective has shifted over the years.

5. You may know your mom as a parent, but do you know her as a person?

Understand the things that shaped her life? Did a loss profoundly impact her? What were her parents like? Parents are people who have stuff they need to deal with, just like we do. Life throws all kinds of things at us, and sometimes we aren’t equipped to handle it. But trying to understand what makes your mom tick can be helpful, especially if she isn’t the parent you wanted or needed.

6. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to do this alone.

Many people have a rocky relationship with their mom, but not everyone feels safe enough to discuss it with their mom or a friend. If you need to talk, but you don’t want everyone knowing your business, pain, or struggles, a good counselor can help you take the space you need to stay positive and move away from bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness can bring emotional and physical benefits that are healing for the person who chooses to forgive, regardless of what another does. If possible, forgive your mom, whether she asks you to or not.

Things may not get better today or ever, but there’s hope that your situation will change. You may learn to navigate through the conflict or at least improve the relationship. One of you might take a step toward a healthy conversation and forgiveness. That may be all it takes. And one day, it might be easier for you to celebrate more things about your mom on Mother’s Day. I hope it is.

Other helpful blogs: