We Are Both Right

Our Two Cents: Just Who is Mother’s Day for Anyway?

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How will you spend Mother's Day this year? ©simmbarb/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne:

Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day for mothers right? I’m supposed to relax, put my feet up and be pampered, correct? What I say goes? Well apparently someone didn’t get the memo — my husband. We go through the same thing every year. He wants to spend Mother’s Day with his mother. Which I understand. Truly I do. But there are a couple of issues here.

  1. We spend every Mother’s Day with his mother. Not my mother. His mother. I would love to spend a year (or, if I may be so bold) every year, with my family — my mother sure, but more importantly with my husband and my children, doing an activity of my choosing.
  2. When it comes to Father’s Day, my husband does what he wants. Sometimes he’ll go fishing, sometimes it’s a baseball game, but it’s always what he wants to do with no input from everyone else.

I hate to sound like a five-year-old, but it’s not fair! I’ve pointed out the disparity, but he never really gives me a straight answer, other than he wants to spend Mother’s Day with his mom.

Help!

– I’ll Show Him Mommy Dearest

Amanda: Holidays are tough aren’t they? Because there is a very limited amount of time in which to celebrate with what sometimes seems like an unlimited amount of relatives. Add some heightened emotions, a bunch of hurt feelings, a touch of passive-aggressiveness and your grandmother’s ambrosia salad, and you’ve got the makings for a family get-together for the ages.

Mother’s Day especially is a tough one, because if you are fortunate, there are a lot of mothers in the family to celebrate, all of whom have a different idea of how they’d like to spend “their” designated holiday. It sounds to me like you’d prefer a day with just your immediate family (and maybe a trip to see your mom too). And that’s great — for myriad reasons, that’s generally how me and my family spend the day too.

So how to do it?

First, come up with a plan of what you’d like to do that day. From brunch to a trip to a playground, to getting your nails painted, map it all out. Then try talking to your husband one more time. Don’t be confrontational, don’t yell. Explain what you had in mind for Mother’s Day and why it’s so important that you spend your special day together as a family. If your agenda doesn’t involve visiting his mom (and as far as I’m concerned, that’s O.K.), offer to have her over another day — perhaps the Saturday before for a meal or fun activity — as a compromise. Reassure your husband that spending Mother’s Day without his mom has nothing to do with her, rather, more to do with you wanting to bask in the glow of your own precious family.

If he’s still a no-go, then you have a decision to make.

  1. You can go with your husband to see your mother-in-law. I suspect if you go that route, you won’t be happy and will be quite resentful, but maybe not. You need to be honest with yourself here.
  2. You can do what you had planned without him. Take the kids and off you go to the beach or the mall or whatever it is you had in mind. Put the ball in his court. Say something like, “If you want to visit your mom, that’s fine, but the kids and I are going to xyz. I really hope you’ll join us.”

No matter what you decide, follow through and stick with it. And then relax and enjoy your Mother’s Day! Good luck!

Suzanne: Amanda makes some great suggestions about how to divide and conquer. But I’m heading in a completely different direction (are you surprised?) so keep an open mind, because this might not be exactly what you wanted to hear.

I think that instead of bailing on the extracurricular Mother’s Day and (Mother-in-Law Day) festivities, you take the position of “the more, the merrier.”  You say that you wish you could spend time with your mom on Mother’s Day too, so why not invite the whole gang to your place for the afternoon?

Now I’m not suggesting that you spend the entire morning cooking up a storm and cleaning the house in preparation for your company. To pull this off, you have to have the buy-in of the guys (namely your husband whose idea [read: fault] this was anyway). He has to step up and BBQ or order pizza or whatever it is that gets the family fed without any of the moms having to lift a finger. Make this a late lunch or early dinner and you will still have time for breakfast in bed, served up sticky-hand style by your own young chef. You could probably even fit in a leisurely walk to the park with your children and even your husband, if he’s not too busy prepping for later.

But in the end, no matter how you choose to celebrate this day of honor, just don’t let yourself be so disappointed if it doesn’t meet your ideal image of Mother’s Day. Besides it gives you the excuse to make up for it later. You can cash in on a “special” day with the kids or even on your own — for a day of beauty if that is more your speed – any day you choose.

Because that’s really the best thing about being a mom. You can celebrate your status any and every day of the year. And when your kids are young and always around, that makes it even easier. So maybe the official day in May should be left to celebrate with our own mothers — whether it means splitting the day or sharing the place of honor with an equally wonderful group of moms.

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What do you think? Should Mommy Dearest’s husband be spending Mother’s Day with his mother or his wife (or both)? Or is there a way to compromise?

If you’ve got a question that needs more than one answer, send it to advice@wearebothright.com.

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