Since becoming a mother almost a year and a half ago, Mother’s Day has taken on an entirely new meaning for me. Now it’s no longer just about making sure I get a card to my mother on time (she lives in Montreal) and calling her to wish her well (and to thank her for everything she’s done for me, which I’m now way more intimate with since the birth of my daughter. Wow. Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe it.). Now Mother’s Day is a day that I get to be pampered and thanked too! And since my birthday is only a few weeks after it, this occasion has also become a kick off to my birthday celebration.
Actually, as I learned for the first time last May, Mother’s Day is a lot like a birthday, only better. Because unlike your birthday, on Mother’s Day, everyone knows it’s your special day. So everyone wishes you well – strangers and friends alike. I’m not one to enjoy being the center of attention (which was problematic at my wedding, let me tell you), but I do find that whenever it’s my birthday, if I encounter someone who doesn’t know, I have to resist the urge to scream out, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAAAAYYY!!!” really loudly and inappropriately.
In that regard, Mother’s Day is better than a birthday, because everyone makes you feel special, and no one needs to be reminded to do so.
But what do these and other special occasions have in common? Gift giving and expectations about what you want and how you would like to be acknowledged, that’s what. AKA the opportunity to get really frustrated with your significant other if you’re not careful. As the daughter of a mother who has tried unsuccessfully to feign excitement over whatever us kids or my dad gave her for the occasion of the hour (um….wow…..thank you….I….love….it….), I have first hand experience with the passive aggressiveness of someone who didn’t get exactly the gift or the experience they wanted (and what they swore they dropped a gazillion clues about up to the day of the celebration).
If I’m being honest, I’ve experienced it myself too. But this year, things are different. And they can be for you too if only you’d follow these three very key tips:
1. Lower Your Expectations.
You may want your husband, partner or children to cook you a gourmet, restaurant-worthy meal for your big day, but if they don’t know how to or don’t even really have any interest in cooking, you’re not going to be happy with the results (hello soggy peas and overcooked fish).
You may want him to buy you the perfect piece of jewelry or a nice piece of clothing, but if the man can’t tell the difference between a shirt from Target and one from Gucci, well, good luck with that one too.
Understand what you’re dealing with and take it from there. Some women’s husbands are dream boats in the kitchen, and are excellent at picking out gifts. It’s rare, but it does happen. Most men aren’t like that though, let’s face it (though we love you anyway!). You can’t get blood from a stone, so just because it’s Mother’s Day (or insert-special-occasion here) doesn’t mean he’s miraculously going to change all of the things about himself that drive you crazy.
Fear not. You’re still going to get the Mother’s Day you want. I promise. But for now, take comfort in the idea that lowering your expectations will not only avert any feelings of frustration, but it also gives your partner and your kids a chance to play, and it makes for some pretty great stories. Walk by any lingerie store on Christmas Eve or Valentine’s Day and you will find it’s the only time (next to Mother’s Day, of course) where the store is packed with men of all ages, shapes and sizes. I should know. My dad makes a beeline for that store every Christmas to buy lingerie that my mother doesn’t ask for, doesn’t need, and will never wear. One year, he took my now 95 (then 85) year old grandfather with him. From across the store, my grandfather – who bears a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill – held up a pair of saucy panties and said, “Don! Do you think Carla would like these?”
Mom may not have gotten what she wanted that year, but I guarantee you – everyone in that store got a laugh, and it’s quite clearly a story that has stood the test of time.
2. Give him a list.
This may feel like you’re taking the romance out of things here, but again: with more realistic expectations about what your partner is capable of, he’ll need a list if you want to actually get what you want.
In my home, every special occasion comes with a Lauren-approved list of things I want – with direct links to exact brands, colors, style codes, and where to buy them. I even list the items I want in order of importance, because I don’t expect my husband to get me everything on the list. One thing is enough (though I do secretly always hope that he’ll keep the list so he can buy me something special “just because” throughout the year. And sometimes he does.).
Ted (my husband) hates the list. “It takes all of the fun out of it for me,” he always tells me. “I’m sorry,” I ask him, “Is my birthday/Mother’s Day about you or me?” Of course he knows it’s about me, but he just can’t seem to see how there could possibly be any fun if there is no surprise when the gift comes.
Well, I’ve got that covered, my friend. Because I never buy myself anything. Like. Ever. Unless you count diapers, wipes, baby clothes and sippy cups. Since I never buy myself anything, for me, the surprise comes with the anticipation of what Ted will have picked out from my list of Lauren-approved items!
So, back to that list. If you’ve learned anything from being in a relationship with a man, it’s this: they need things spelled out for them. Don’t fight it. Accept it. Look over your list, check it twice, and then hand it over.
3. Get it yourself.
Don’t even give yourself the remote possibility of being all passive aggressive at the end of the day on Sunday, pouting because you’re husband didn’t listen to you and didn’t do or get anything you asked for. You’re a big girl: do it yourself, woman! For goodness sake – you’ve kept a small human (or many) alive for this long. You can handle Mother’s Day.
Why set yourself up for disappointment? Want a brunch at your favorite spot? Make the reservation yourself. Don’t nag your hubby about it for any longer than it takes you to ask, “did you make that reservation yet?” Do it yourself.
And that little black dress you’ve been eyeing? Buy it yourself. Who says you don’t also have the right (and the duty) to buy yourself a gift for Mother’s Day? Why should it all be up to everyone else? Of course, give your husband and children the opportunity to get you some of the things on your list, but leave some for yourself. Don’t set your family up for failure by putting it all on them to make you happy. Your level of happiness come Sunday shouldn’t be dictated by whether or not your husband or children listened to your requests or not. Besides – you should treat yourself today, you hot mama! You deserve it!
So come on: break the norm, and give yourself the greatest Mother’s Day you’ve ever had.
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!