Making The Most Of Mother’s Day: Queen For A Day…Or Not

by Family, May, Vocation

As Mother’s Day approaches, if you have a house full of kids, like I did ten years ago, you may be trying to keep expectations low. You doubt as to whether your loved ones will show you appreciation in any significant way on this day traditionally devoted to honoring mothers. You wonder if you will have to make dinner, order your own gift the day after Mother’s Day, or, worst of all, navigate interpersonal familial conflict on your special day.

But no matter what state of crazy your family is in from day-to-day, you may still have the idealistic glow somewhere deep inside that this Mother’s Day will be different. You can’t help getting your hopes up while trying to prepare yourself for a fairly ordinary day (which may or may not include a last-minute visit to the emergency room). You tell yourself, “Why should I care what happens on Mother’s Day when I am so blessed every day of the year? My precious children are gift enough! Being a mother is its own reward.” If it miraculously occurs to one of your family members to ask you what you want for Mother’s Day, you tell them the truth: the greatest gift of all is for everyone to get along and for the house to be cleaned. 

The day arrives, and it is all smiles as everyone wishes you Happy Mother’s Day and gives you a hug. “That was nice!” you say to yourself. When your husband brings you coffee as you are getting ready for Mass, you feel affirmed and pampered. Then the rest of the day happens. You keep a stiff upper lip until well into the afternoon, then you go into your bedroom and weep a little weep. You ask yourself, “Why can’t I just appreciate what I have? Why do I feel gypped when no one bends over backward to make Mother’s Day (or my birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Valentine’s Day) extra special?” 

It’s okay, Mom. It is all going to be okay. If something blows up this coming Sunday or if your beloved-but-not-totally-with-it family is unable to make you “queen for a day,” keep telling yourself true things. God sees everything you do and will reward you. You are making a difference. (As Kimberly Hahn, Catholic author and speaker says, you are changing the world one diaper at a time.) You are becoming a better person and growing in virtue by laying down your life for your family. Your family loves you and would be lost without you.

3 Ideas To Help Moms Make The Most Of Mother’s Day

In addition to keeping your thoughts positive and Christ-centered, you might try these three ideas to help you keep your equilibrium on Mother’s Day:

  1. Be explicit about what would make you feel special. It is hard to feel appreciated when you must tell your husband and children what you want, but it is just a fact of life for some of us. You may need to be explicit and provide the raw material to enable your family to meet your needs. When you do this, you are teaching everyone how to appreciate you and how to demonstrate that appreciation. On the Friday before Mother’s Day, for example, you might provide some colorful markers and paper and sit with your children at the dining room table to make cards. Make one for your own mom or for a mother figure in your life and “don’t look!” as your kids make one for you. If your husband doesn’t cook, or is too busy to prepare, buy the ingredients you need for Sunday dinner and give the recipe to him or to one of your older children and ask them to make it for you and the family. Or prepare a short list of chores that everyone can do to make the house tidier and cleaner, then, on Saturday or Sunday, lock yourself in your room with a good book or with your rosary while they do the chores. (Disclaimer: this method still may not yield the results you are looking for, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!)
  2. Do something you enjoy. This is a no-brainer, yet we often ignore the obvious when we are focused on the ideal. Of course you would like to spend your entire Mother’s Day with your family, but if you know that it is going to end badly and you just aren’t up for it, forget about the ideal and go somewhere with a friend for a couple of hours. (Plan to do this before you start yelling about being underappreciated.) Or hang out at your mom’s house and watch a movie and eat ice cream with the woman who raised you. Go sit in the park for a couple hours and journal about your husband and each one of your kids separately. Writing about them will help you remember how dear they are and keep things in perspective. On the way home treat yourself to a latte. Or buy yourself some flowering plants, and, if you enjoy gardening, invite each of your children in turn to spend one-on-one time with you as you plant them. 
  3. Prepare for Mother’s Day with a heartfelt prayer. Make some time on the Saturday night before Mother’s Day to take a breath and to ask for grace. Try praying something like this:

Lord, I praise you and I thank you for [names husband and children]. What a blessing they are to me. Life without them is incomprehensible to me! I want to experience your joy and consolation on this upcoming Mother’s Day. I freely admit, I would love it if my children would “rise up and call [me] blessed” and if my husband would “praise [me]” (Ps 31:28). But, while I won’t give up asking for what I need from my husband or training my children to treat me with the love and respect I deserve, help me to love and accept them exactly as they are. Give me the grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to have a great day tomorrow. Help me know that in living out my vocation to love my family sacrificially, I am becoming who you have called me to be. Loving in a sacrificial way without the appreciation I deserve helps me become more like you, dear Jesus, which is the goal of my life. Please help our whole family to love and appreciate each other in authentic ways so that we can build one another up, be a light in the darkness, and be together one day in the beatific vision. 

Maybe you can’t relate to my less-than-ideal experiences on Mother’s Day and other special occasions. Maybe you are doing a better job raising your kids to be unselfish or maybe you are more virtuous than I am, and you don’t mind baking your own birthday cake. But if you have had similar experiences, I hope you can keep your peace and joy this Mother’s Day, no matter what happens. If you can’t, remember it is okay to cry. You’ll feel better, you’ll be reminded that you need more grace, and you’ll have yet another opportunity to chat with your best friend, Jesus. Spending time with Him on Mother’s Day will remind you that even if you aren’t treated like a queen, you are still a daughter of the King! 

Keep Learning About The Catholic Vocation Of Motherhood

Everyday Heroism—28 Daily Reflections on the Little Way of Motherhood will help you find your way. Designed as a twenty-eight day “recharge” for mothers, with an emphasis on reflection and prayer, it can also be read straight through as a cohesive exploration of Catholic spirituality and motherhood.

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