9 Ways I Set Myself Up For Disappointment On Mother's Day (So You Won't)

Mother’s Day means different things for different people. For some, it’s a day to celebrate their mothers. For others, it's a day to celebrate their fathers, or the people who cared for them, or the friends that became mothers. And, of course and for a lot of moms, it’s a day to take some time to focus on yourself. But no matter who you are, the holiday usually comes with some pretty high expectations. I know I set myself up for disappointment on Mother's Day more often than not, and I think at least acknowledging this faux pas can help make future Mother's Days go down smoother.

I was expecting all the bells and whistles on my first Mother’s Day with my son. I thought my partner would really step up and make the day special for me. Instead, he was in a not-so-great mood, likely a result from his estrangement from his own mother. He didn’t seem to think the day was a big deal, or that he needed to act accordingly. (To be fair, he doesn’t seem to think any holidays are that important, except maybe that fist baseball game of the season). So the day came and went, and I was left wanting.

He’s made up for it since, but I’d be lying if I said any subsequent Mother's Day has been able to reach my expectations. This year, however, I’m taking a different approach by reflecting on all the ways I set myself (and my family) up for failure.

I Allow Pop Culture To Dictate My Expectations

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In so many ways, pop culture has ruined many holidays. I have these “ideas” about what a holiday is supposed to be, and it’s not just Mother’s Day, either. It’s every holiday. I'll watch movies where someone goes to great lengths to plan the most amazing surprise birthday party ever, or where a character works hard as hell to obtain the “perfect” gift, only to realize that in real life parties are a pain and there is no perfect gift.

These are all just fantasies on our screens. It’s unfair to expect perfection from our loved ones.

I Let My Childhood Experiences Dictate My Expectations

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In my sugar-coated memories, I felt that I did great by my mother on every single Mother’s Day. The problem? I didn't. Sure, I always remembered to get my mom flowers or a card or some other gift, but we actually didn’t do anything all that special the majority of the time. For some reason, I had convinced myself it was better than it actually was, which set my own little family up for failure.

I Forget My Own Mom

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Once I became a mom, you’d think I would have started doing even more for my mother on Mother's Day. Except... I didn’t. I often forgot to even pick her up a card. I feel like a jerk, so this year I’m planning ahead to at least send her a decent care package.

I Don’t Tell My Partner What I Want

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I didn’t bother to drop hints or flat out tell my partner what I wanted for Mother’s Day that first year. Honestly, I just wanted to be “surprised.” Over the years, however, I’ve come to realize that my partner sucks at surprises. That’s just not the way he’s wired, and that’s OK. So, thankfully, now I am better at explicitly telling him what I’d like.

I Don't Explain What I Want From My Child

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My son is 4, so he's always been way too young to come up with a gift on his own. So I have been hoping that my partner would give me a gift that was “from” our son, too. Maybe he’s make some macaroni art with him or something, you know?

My partner made one attempt to give me a gift from my son, and I still didn't feel like it was "enough." Expecting a gift from your baby is, when you're trying to take care of that baby, is unrealistic. Now that my son is older, I may drop some heavy hints as to what he can “get” me (like a lot of hugs and kisses, which he’s really good at).

I Forget What A Difficult Day It Is For My Partner

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Many people struggle with Mother’s Day for a variety reasons. Some people have lost their mothers, some have lost babies or are dealing with infertility, and some are estranged from their mothers or have poor relationships with them.

My partner falls into this category, and I know it’s not entirely fair to expect him to want to make a grand celebration on a day that might be a little difficult, or even foreign, to him. He’s gotten better at it, but I still do my best to be mindful.

I Forget To Do Anything For My Partner

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"Treat others the way you want to be treated." I think about that "golden rule" often, but sometimes... I forget.

Because my partner didn’t do much of anything for me on my first Mother’s Day, I retaliated by not planning anything for his first Father’s Day. Was it fair? No. And I honestly am not the best at doing much for his big days (like his birthday) either. So what right do I have to complain, right?

Instead, I’m re-strategizing and working toward being a better partner on his special days, in order for him to recognize that I think both of our holidays are valid and important... not just mine.

I Feel Like I've Failed If I Treat Myself

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I used to think it was ridiculous to gift myself something on Mother’s Day. Over the years, though, I’ve learned it’s all part of self-care and self-love. It’s OK to give myself a treat on a special day.

I Feel Selfish For Taking Time Away From My Family

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I thought I had to spend the full day with my family, even if they that meant simply sitting around at home. Then I realized that what I usually wanted more than anything was some solo time where I could feel like “myself” again. I opted to get a massage and some additional pampering on my second Mother's Day, and it was the best decision I've ever made. Don’t be afraid to treat yourselves to time away!