The truth is, I don't really remember my first Mother's Day. To be fair, it was a long time ago (my oldest is 18), but I'm guessing the reason I don't remember it is because nothing all that eventful happened... maybe brunch? And whatever did happen, as with most things that happened during that first year of motherhood, I was probably so sleep-deprived and out of my mind with new mom anxiety that I barely even noticed. So if you're trying to figure out how to make your partner's first Mother's Day really special, I'm the first to admit you've got a considerable challenge on your hands.
Because you're not just honoring all the hard work she does as a mom, you're also celebrating the biggest transition she's ever made in her life: non-mom to mom. And she might be too exhausted to even realize that it's an important day (as in, a day she might wish she could remember 18 years later). On the other hand, it could be that she's been looking forward to her first Mother's Day for years and her expectations are fairly high: Jewelry, flowers, breakfast in bed, etc. Because motherhood tends to change one's feelings about almost everything, there's really no way of knowing how a new mom wants to spend Mother's Day without asking her.
“With this in mind, the first mother's day should be about the mom. This means that there is no individual way to celebrate it. Instead, it's all about how the mom is feeling,” NYC-based neuropsychologist and Columbia University faculty member Dr. Sanam Hafeez tells Romper. “Many mothers opt to spend the day with family, and other moms wish for some time to themselves, or with friends away from their responsibilities. So figuring out what your loved one would prefer is up to you and your observations.”
How can you get it right? Again, take your cues from mom's behavior. “First, moms often feel pressure to make the day about the family, but if mom has had a stressful time, if she is tired, or if she misses her friends, time should be allotted to let her do what she wants," Dr. Hafeez says. Instead of guessing, just ask what would make her the happiest.
Another incredibly important pro tip? Document the day. “As common as good phone cameras have become, it still bears repeating, take photos,” says Dr. Hafeez. “These are memories a mother cherishes her entire life. Get creative, don't just take photos of people standing around or sitting on a couch. Set up photo ops in the balcony or backyard. Dress the baby up and have a themed shoot that is both endearing and fun.” All too often moms are the keepers of a family’s visual history, snapping photos of children as they grow up but rarely making it into the pictures themselves. Throw her a bone and capture this special day (just don't forget to include her in the pics!).
And while this should be a no-brainer, Dr. Hafeez also reminds families to spoil their moms with food. Equality in the kitchen has surely come a long way, but as the Pew Research Center reported, 80% of women still report doing the majority of meal preparations and the household's primary grocery shopping. Getting a day off from toiling over the stove is a wonderful gift, especially if you make it extra thoughtful by including her favorite treats.
That brings us to presents. What should you give? “Avoid giving mom a gift that is for the entire house like a toaster or blender. Gifts that immortalize a special moment are always great when you have your first mother's day,” says Dr. Hafeez.
It goes without saying that Mother’s Day 2020 will be a little different than most, but as Dr. Hafeez says, this doesn't have to mean that a first mother's day has to be any less special. “Pamper her (or pamper yourself if you're a single mom), document the day and welcome the supply of virtual love and celebration you will receive from family and friends,” she adds.
“Ultimately for this first mother's day in these unprecedented circumstances, you want to reflect on your blessings, celebrate your accomplishments in adapting to this new stage of your life, and indulge in the love of others.”
Actually, that's sound advice for any Mother's Day.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, New York-based neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University, comprehendthemind.com
This article was originally published on