Mother's Day: How to Set Boundaries, Help Others, and Actually Enjoy Ourselves
Mother’s Day is a lot of things, and for many people, it is really painful. I think of the people whose mothers have passed away. Mothers who have lost children. People who are desperate to be mothers and who are not. People who just went through a miscarriage. New mothers. People with abusive relationships with their mothers. People whose mothers live far away. Birth Mothers. Foster Mothers. Stepmothers. Surrogate mothers.
If you fall into the above category, be gentle with yourself today. Allow yourself to participate, or not participate, in the events around you. Be with people who are supportive. Be gentle with your heart, it has been through a lot. And feel free to skip the middle part of this article, and move down to the Society section.
If you are lucky enough to fall into the category of celebrating Mother’s Day without intense loss or trauma, feel grateful. Reach out to someone you know who is feeling loss today and let them know they are in your thoughts. Then allow yourself to feel however you are feeling about Mother’s Day.
Who Designed this Day, Anyways?
While trying to keep a grateful attitude, it is also totally human to feel overwhelmed or stressed. Who designed a day celebrating mothers that often includes the mothers: organizing, hosting, cleaning, transporting, and cooking? It feels EXACTLY like the message we give mothers in this country- “enjoy yourself, relax, you are SO special! And take care of planning everything and everyone else’s needs. Oh, and you better be enjoying it or something is deeply wrong with you”. So, I’m suggesting a few earth-shattering concepts to allow Moms to actually enjoy the Mother’s Day experience…
What is important to you about this day? What do you want to take from this day? Do you want to focus on what your mom may or may not passive aggressively say to you, or do you want to be glad you get to spend another Mother’s Day with her? Do you want to focus on the kids wearing matching outfits, staying clean, and getting the “perfect” family picture, or do you want to try to enjoy the chaos and the noise and mess that comes with being lucky enough to be a mom?
Ask for What You Want/Need:
What would feel good for you today? Do you need help cleaning? Can you delegate making the brunch reservation? Would you rather host, or have festivities elsewhere? What would make your life a little easier? Our partners and families are not mind readers, and typically do want us to have a great Mother’s Day, so let them help you. This is a perfect time to ask for those things you have always been interested in- the kickboxing class, a yoga membership, a baseball game outing, a massage etc. If you struggle to think of what you want/need, I suggest looking into the Love Languages. Take the quiz, identify your love language, and then use your top love languages to narrow down something that you want.
For Mother’s Day this year I asked for two things- my partner to research and schedule a landscaper, and a second Mother’s Day! (More on that below). I couldn’t be happier!
Say No to What You Don’t Want:
Do you get flowers every year that you hate planting? Do you dislike brunch, and would rather order pizza? Do you typically visit four different households on Mother’s Day and don’t want to have to hustle today? Let people know! Role model for your kids setting boundaries and advocating for yourself, and free yourself from stress and resentment.
Second Mother’s Day!
Something I’ve been toying with the last few years but felt “selfish” requesting was the concept of a second Mother’s Day. (I hate the word selfish; it gives such a terrible connotation to actually considering yourself and your desires). I was finding that while I was so grateful to finally be a mother, Mother’s Day just felt so busy! I want to celebrate my own mother, and get together with family, but I also want to be able to have what I envisioned out of a Mother’s Day, a day that says- “Hey there Momma! You do so much for everyone in your life, and we appreciate you! You deserve a day that is just for you. Whatever you want because you are awesome!”
So today I’m not stressed cleaning my house and cooking on Mother’s day (though I must confess, I’ve learned to cook less and less on holidays because I want to actually see my family and not be in the kitchen. Today we are grilling hotdogs😊) I will be able to enjoy visiting with my family, feel grateful to have my mom and sister near me (two amazing mothers) and know that in a few weeks I will get a day that is actually just for me. Maybe we will go on a family outing, maybe we will go out to eat, maybe I will go get a massage, or lock myself in my room for the day to sleep, read and binge watch tv… The beautiful possibilities are endless!
If you are a family with two mothers, then I say have a family gathering Mother’s Day, and then each mother gets their own Mother’s Day later! We share a lot in life, there are 365 days a year, you can each have a day.
I had a very difficult time writing about Mother’s Day this year due to intense rage and sadness I was feeling regarding all the anti-abortion laws being passed, and Roe v. Wade quite possibly being overturned. I’ve struggled with how to express what I morally believe to be true- that every person has the right to determine what happens with their own body, and how to uphold therapeutic space for people’s own thoughts. So, I will strongly encourage that we all are aware of what is going on. Read up on what these laws are actually saying, and in all they ways they will damage women, families, the economy, and society. Ask where are the resources and services to help support mothers and children after giving birth? Who is actually benefiting from this?
Don’t ask yourself if you would ever have an abortion. Ask yourself do you have the right to control what you do or don’t do with your own body? Why would this stop at just abortion? Do you want all available medical treatment options available if your health is threatened? Do you want access to birth control? Do you want the option of assisted reproductive medicine like IVF if you are infertile? If your child is transgender don’t you want every available resource for them to live their full life? Don’t you want to marry whomever you are madly in love with?
Motherhood is individual, but it is also collective and ancestral. So many forces out there intentionally drive women apart from each other, but what if we could all come together in support and protection? What if there was less judgement about what the woman next to you is doing, and more trust in each other that we are doing the best we can and are able to make decisions about what is right for ourselves? Think of the strength and the love that could generate!
If the narrative that is being sold is trying to do what is best for families, then let us reclaim the narrative by intentionally demanding autonomy over our bodies as well as supporting mothers in our neighborhood, in our schools, in our shelters, at the border, in war zones etc. Let us make a conscious effort to provide affirmation, money and service. We all need to hear more that we are doing a good job, but maybe more than that we actually need some help. “Need a babysitter? Need to leave work early to pick up your kid? Need an errand run? Need help finding daycare?”
They don’t have to define what is best for our bodies and our families, we can. After all, we are f*&#ing Mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day.