Mother of all Days

10 May Mother of all Days

Blog piece by Shelly Macdonald.

This Sunday, May 14th, is Mother’s Day in America and this holiday will be celebrated in over 80 countries worldwide.

Here’s the unfortunate truth…

Not all mothers will enjoy this “special day.”

When I talk with moms just after Mother’s Day, there is often a combination of gratitude for the efforts of their family, along with frustration, sadness and disappointment. They don’t want to complain or appear ungrateful, but when it gets real, their true feelings are voiced:

“We went out for brunch — to a super busy, crowded, loud restaurant — and the kids were so poorly behaved that I wished we had just stayed home.”

“I feel like I should want to be with my kids on Mother’s Day, but what I’d like most is to go away by myself to a spa for the day. Am I a terrible Mom for saying that?”

“My husband means well, but he often misses the mark completely. Doesn’t he know by now that I hate baby’s breath? (the kind in flower arrangements) — and candy does nothing for me. I feel like he barely puts any thought into the day beyond the stereotypical card and gift.”

“We had a perfectly lovely day… until 11am. Then, everyone started melting down. There was yelling, crying, you name it. I need a do-over Mother’s Day.”

”I’m a single parent with no extended family nearby. My kids are little so it’s up to me to plan something which feels strange and unappealing.“

“I despise all the commercialism around Mother’s Day. It’s just another made-up holiday designed to make money for Hallmark and florists.”

Imagine what the founder of Mother’s Day, over a hundred years ago, would feel like if she heard all this?!

Well, it turns out, she couldn’t agree more!

According to National Geographic, and Wikipedia “Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make ‘Mother’s Day’ a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother…died.

Anna’s mission was to honor her own mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor mothers. A peace activist, Anna’s mother cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.


Anna Jarvis in 1928

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Nine years after the first official United States Mother’s Day, commercialization of the holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become and spent all her inheritance and the rest of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration.”

Despite the founder’s efforts to abolish the holiday, Mother’s Day spread throughout the world and continues to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. celebrations.

So much for sentimentality!

No matter how (or if) you celebrate this Sunday, here are some tips to improve your chances of having a truly lovely day:

Manage expectations:

  • The difference between expectation and reality is the measure of disappointment we feel. Meaning, if, for example, you expect your babysitter at 5 pm and she arrives at 5:30 pm, that’s 30 minutes of disappointment.
  • If you have little ones at home, don’t expect them to hang in there too long before it becomes all about their needs and desires.
  • If you’re in charge of planning the day, let your kids know in advance what’s happening and what’s expected of them.


Go ahead and ask for what you want:

  • If you have specific desires or hopes for Mother’s Day, go ahead and make them known. Chances are, your partner and kids will appreciate the guidance in order to hit a home run for you!
  • If you prefer to be surprised, but historically end up feeling less-than-impressed, offer up a list of varied and acceptable ideas with the final request being, “Surprise me!”. You can still be surprised by what they end up choosing.
  • If you’re on your own, find ways to take care of yourself. Hire a sitter for a couple hours and get a massage or see a movie. Spend the day with friends who are in a similar situation. Ask a close friend or relative to tell you why they think you’re a great mom.


Look for win/win opportunities:

  • If you dread the Sunday brunch scene, go out for a meal on Saturday to avoid the overcrowded, overpriced restaurants on Sunday.
  • If you crave time alone, take half the day all to yourself or use Saturday for some much-needed “me” time.
  • If you don’t see a way to make Mother’s Day perfect this year, commit to doing something you love this month. Who said it can only last one day?!


Return to gratitude:

  • If you do end up feeling let-down at the end of the day, that’s ok. Allow yourself some time and space to feel every single mixed-up emotion without adding any judgment or self-criticism to the mix. Frankly, this act alone could be the best gift to yourself!
  • Then, gently shift your focus to gratitude. Sometimes, the most difficult circumstances can help us appreciate what we have.

Whether you celebrate or not, my wish is that every Mother (and Father) everywhere can feel honored and appreciated each and every day.

I think Anna Jarvis could really get behind that sentiment!

I welcome your feedback, questions or suggestions at I truly appreciate your willingness to help spread the “Good News of Parenting!

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