Ed: Today the Parent.co team is gathered to discuss Mother’s Day. We have three dads: Mike, Ed, and Justin. And three moms: Angela, Sara, and Autumn. And two women who don’t have kids, but do have moms who they’re close to: Amanda and Katrina.
Many people – including moms – have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. We accept that it’s kind of a Hallmark holiday, a manufactured obligation to get us to buy stuff like cards and chocolate and flowers.
But then again, Mother’s Day does provide an opportunity to focus on the moms in our lives, to celebrate and thank and appreciate them.
Angela: I think that’s my fundamental problem with Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Anytime there’s the one day on the calendar it almost creates an implicit excuse to forget about that appreciation the rest of the year.
Autumn: We are sort of teaching our kids to experience the stress of this thing you have to do – ‘hurry up and get the crayons and feel guilty’ – and feel all these other things around it.
I don’t really care if my kids spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. I don’t want my husband to be like ‘You gotta make something for your mom!’ and they’re like ‘We do?!’
Sara: There’s a Buzzfeed article of kids’ Mother’s Day cards. In one a kid wrote ‘I am writing this so I can eat.’ At school they were like, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this before lunch.’
Angela: I think the only gift that I’ve ever gotten my mom that I felt pretty good about was a bouquet of flowers delivered every month for a year. That was an opportunity for us to have a monthly exchange about how much I appreciate her and care about her. Anything to stretch out the appreciation for the whole year.
Ed: Maybe Mother’s Day can be seen as another opportunity to teach kids to understand gratitude, how to express it.
Autumn: Basically, I think that we – moms – want to be recognized. We want to be seen. We want to be seen and appreciated.
Then there’s a bigger conversation of how do we help our kids and our spouses understand that a big part of getting through life is saying ‘thank you.’
Someone saying ‘I know it was kind of a pain for you to leave that thing to go do that other thing to pick up the kids and that wasn’t the plan but you did it and that’s really awesome. That’s really helpful.’
Angela: It’s an opportunity to express those things that you feel like you don’t get to express. That’s a positive. It helps us remember.
Autumn: There’s also that other layer that’s becoming a little noisier year to year. It’s a corporate driven, sort of saccharine holiday that puts women without kids into this crappy space.
Either they chose not to have kids or can’t have kids or have lost a child. I know you can’t be responsible for every person every second of the day, but what does this feel like to these other women?
Sara: That’s what it’s like these days being on social media. Before, you’re might have those feelings on your own, but no one is throwing them in your face every second.
Ed: It’s something to be thoughtful about. I wonder if that’s another reason why Father’s Day is so much more muted than Mother’s Day. Most single parent families are kids living with a mom.
Autumn: I heard Howard Stern say one year, and it’s so true, ‘Why are we doing this whole Father’s Day thing, because for many people Father’s Day is the day you go and look for your dad.’ It’s cruel but true.
Justin: Unfortunately that probably is true.
Ed: What makes a great Mother’s Day gift?
Angela: If my kids have spent time on something and taken care when they’re doing it, I don’t care if it’s functional or not. I would just be thrilled to get it.
But then I would feel guilty when I threw it away. They would say “Mommy, where’s that thing I gave you?”
Sara: And you’d have to say, ‘Here’s the truth: it was kind of crappy.’
Angela: I guess for me it’s about time. It’s showing time and appreciation. Either giving me time or spending time doing something, or in some other way a gift of time shows appreciation to me. I definitely don’t want or don’t expect my husband to get jewelry for me.
Ed: Autumn looks incredulous. Autumn is giving the skeptical look.
Autumn: That’s the tricky part of these holidays, aside from the schlock and the cheese and the precious stuff. There’s often this expectation that you need to do something.
Then, I think there’s this dynamic where moms are approached by their partners and it’s like ‘Well, hey, so I didn’t really do anything yet.’
Then it’s your responsibility to either let them off the hook or be the a-hole that’s like, ‘Well you’re supposed to do something.’
I know I definitely don’t want to know that nothing has happened yet, and he hasn’t really done anything.
That makes it even worse. Because it puts it on the other person. The same with Valentine’s Day. The same with birthdays. The same with all holidays.
Sara: I think that is kind of a crappy dynamic. It exists because the holiday exists.
Amanda: I wish I could go back to being able to make my mom something for Mother’s Day that she would appreciate and love and just coo over.
The biggest thing for Mother’s Day – even in Google Search Trends – is this whole concept of brunch. I like the idea of making food and spending time together, but I don’t live near my mom. So I’m left with sending flowers I guess. I still want to make popsicle stick art for her.
Mike: In our household, Mother’s Day is ironically about relief from being a mother.
It’s kind of an interesting thing. ‘You can get away today. Here’s a spa day – take a break from your responsibilities as a mom. I got the kid. See ya! Take the day and do whatever you want.’
Angela: Autumn and I were talking about this last week. My perfect Mother’s Day would be to spend the morning with my kids and my husband and to have family time, and to also have some time to myself.
But even better than having time to myself would be to have time with friends. To have time with other female friends.
Sara: I feel guilty when I’m out indulging just myself but if I’m out with my friends and we’re shooting the shit there’s really nothing that’s more fun than that.
Last year in my daughter’s preschool class they sat down and the teacher took time with each little kid asking a series of questions about the mom. It was so sweet – except for the part when my daughter said my job was “vacuuming.”
It’s just a simple piece of paper. I’m sure I still have it somewhere but I also took a photo of it. That’s something that is going to be a part of our life. That’s a gift.
Ed: What is everybody doing for their mom or their wife on Mother’s Day. Be honest. I’m taking Erika to see “Captain America.”
Sara: I cross my fingers that a statement necklace shows up for me. And maybe I’ll call my mom instead of throwing her a text.
Amanda: I’m on the fence this year. I may make a surprise trip to see my mother. Even though she’s been an empty nester for a while, for some reason it’s really hitting her hard this year. Out of nowhere. I think it’s because we’re calling her a lot less. Even though we’re texting more. I mean she really has a grasp on emojis!
She’s starting to feel more of a physical distance that’s unnerving her so I might just make a surprise visit. She will love it because I will have to catch up on like three months of conversations.
Justin: I’ll be in Montreal so we’re gonna have a whole weekend up there.
Autumn: You’ll be in Montreal with your wife?
Justin: With my wife and my kids. My mother and father. Sunday when we come back we usually do a barbecue and so I’ll do that.
I usually have the boys pick out a way that they can help mommy on Mother’s Day and carry it through the week. So it’s a chore that they pick up through the week. Something to help their mom out.
I have a hard time subscribing to the gifts. I think the thing is kind of a Hallmark holiday. So instead I try to show her how much she’s a great mom every day and not just for Mother’s Day.
Mike: My wife sent me a link to some sandals. She was like ‘This is what I really want,’ and I’m like ‘Okay. I’ll get them for you.’
That’s how it is every holiday. It’s fantastic – it makes it a lot easier, and it takes the stress out of it. We’ll go out to dinner, or I’ll make dinner for the family and Dominic will do something nice for her.
If she wants the day on Sunday she can do whatever she wants. We don’t make a big deal out of it.
Autumn: I was thinking of sending a link for the gift I want to my husband. He doesn’t like it because it takes the surprise away. I’m like ‘Why are you fighting me on this?’
Mike: My wife is like ‘Wouldn’t you rather know that you’re getting me exactly what I want?’ And I’m like ‘Yes.’ She’s like ‘Remember the mixer?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah. I remember the mixer.’
She’s like, ‘Just stick to the plan.’
Sara: I’ll never forget the mixer.
Autumn: I don’t know what’s going to happen. I won’t be home for most of the day because I’m going to New York for a girl party. I’ll be home mid-afternoon Sunday.
I want to be like, ‘Hey cool, now we’re together but I kind want to go from the airport to yoga and then come home and then have dinner. Great, that’s it!’
I think probably that.
Angela: My husband is going to be gone for work. I don’t think he even knows, honestly, that it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. I’m going to be at home with our kids and my mom. And I’m happy that my mom is going to be with me on Mother’s Day.
Ed: You look convincingly happy.
Angela: I am happy. She likes Mother’s Day. The big take away: no special plans except to spend time with my mom and my kids.
Ed: What are you going to do with your mom?
Angela: I don’t know. I really meant to make freaking brunch reservations.
Katrina: Freaking brunch, that’s a good one for home.
Angela: I don’t like cooking.
Katrina: I’m hosting a Mother’s Day brunch thingy or dinner, I guess. Dinner with my mom and Andy’s mom. My grandmother.
Amanda: Growing up, it was important to my aunts that they were around their nieces and nephews on Mother’s Day. To recognize that they were participants in their lives and had appreciation in that day as well.
Angela: I think when used properly Mother’s Day relieves symptoms of neglect, disconnection, the sense that you are not seen. That sort of invisibility thing that we sometimes feel.
I think it’s a really good idea, and it’s sad when it turns into a stressful occasion; when there’s commercial pressure, or consumerist pressure.
What Amanda just described, that sounded fantastic – generations of women together with their children and their nieces and nephews just to celebrate.
A celebration of the women in my family – that sounds beautiful.
Mike: I don’t think Mother’s Day is bullshit. It creates a focal point for your appreciation throughout the year.
Ed: It probably teaches kids how to show thanks and be appreciative.
Angela: It all comes down to time and sentiment and intention.
Autumn: Wow, we worked it out didn’t we?