I have a Mother’s Day dilemma and need your advice. I’m trying to decide whether to spend Mother’s Day with my mother or my daughter. Which raises the question — Is Mother’s Day for me or for my mother?
If you’re a member of the “club sandwich” generation (those of us in our 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents,) you may be facing a similar dilemma. Do I honor my 95-year old mother and celebrate Mother’s Day with her? Or do I get to be the one celebrated and spend the day with my daughter and two granddaughters?
I know what my heart wants and what would be way more fun — spending the weekend with my daughter and granddaughters. But my dutiful daughter voice wonders whether this might be my mom’s last Mother’s Day (She’s actually in excellent health) so I should spend it with her.
On the other hand, who says we have to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 13? Or even at all? Hallmark has turned a day of honoring mothers into the most commercialized day of the year.
I honor my mom with weekly visits. I always bring her two bouquets of Peruvian lilies (they last two weeks,) fresh raspberries, two blueberry muffins and some Clemetines. We have lunch together in the community dining room. It’s the same cast of characters every week sitting in wheelchairs or with their walkers parked alongside their tables. I do most of the talking and when I run out of news, we just sit in silence. After lunch, we go back to her apartment and play an hour of Rummikub, one of her favorite games. She often beats me.
My other option is to spend the whole weekend with my daughter and granddaughters. They live farther away and I only get to see them once or twice a month. They’re a ton of fun and bring me pure joy and delight.
Mother’s Day used to be such a simple concept: a special day when we show appreciation for our mothers and all they’ve done for their children all year long. But however simple it’s supposed to be, it really isn’t. All these different mothers come into play: the husband’s mother, the wife’s mother, maybe even some stepmothers. How do you celebrate with every mother in your life and still have a special day yourself?
Dr. Deanna Bran, a clinical psychotherapist, says it can be difficult enough to perform this balancing act when you have wonderful relationships with the various mothers in your life, but when you don’t, chances are someone is going to feel left out or cheated in some way — your mother, your mother-in-law, maybe even you! But no matter why the holiday may be stressful for you, know that you can indeed take certain steps to change it from being miserable to being marvelous. Here’s her advice:
Advice for Enjoying Mother’s Day
Take an emotional step back. All moms need to take an emotional step back and realize this is a complicated holiday for everyone — for all kinds of reasons. Taking difficult situations personally will not endear you to anyone nor will it help you get what you want. Even if you’re a fabulous mother, keep in mind that Mother’s Day is not just about you.
Figure out what you want. Spend some time well in advance of Mother’s Day thinking about what the holiday really means to you and how you really want to be acknowledged and recognized for being a mother. Then consider whether this has to occur on Mother’s Day itself. Ask yourself, is it about getting the acknowledgement, or is it about “the day?” Especially if you have adult children, celebrating on the day before or on the day after that Sunday may allow your time with them to be more focused on you.
Talk to your spouse or adult child in advance. Talk to your adult children — or if you have children at home, talk to your spouse — about Mother’s Day before it comes. Explore the options for this day and decide well in advance both what specifically you want to do and how your family will handle celebrating all the different mothers in your lives. Reach an agreement and tell all the respective mothers involved how you would like to celebrate Mother’s Day with them. That way, even if everyone isn’t overjoyed with the plan, no one will be unpleasantly surprised.
Be generous of spirit. Are mothers perfect? No. Do some mothers do a better job than others? Definitely. But remember that in spite of these facts, a mother is still a mother. Keep in mind that all the mothers in your life are still doing (or have done) the best they can, based on more factors than it is possible to list here. So dial down any resentment you may harbor and be willing to acknowledge them on this day in some way, even if you don’t see these women as model mothers.
Do something for yourself. Yes, this is the day that all children are supposed to acknowledge and celebrate their mothers, but who says you can’t celebrate your own status as a mother? Especially if you won’t be with your own children on Mother’s Day, think of something you would like to do for yourself to acknowledge all that you are — mother, spouse, friend, sister, daughter, and so on. Give yourself permission to indulge yourself a bit, no matter what else happens or doesn’t happen on that day!
Taking one or more of these steps will give you a wonderful opportunity to shift the all-too-frequent tensions associated with Mother’s Day (such as stress, guilt, hurt, and obligation, to name just a few) into something that can feel good to you and everyone else in your family. After all, isn’t that part of what the day is about in the first place — being able to really celebrate some of the most important relationships in your life? If you keep that in mind, this Mother’s Day is bound to be your happiest yet!
Now what’s your advice for me? Should I celebrate with my mother or my daughter?