Preparing for No Expectations

Since this is Mother’s Day evening, I really intended to share a story about these adorable cards Layla and Zade made for me.Image

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Talk about this sweet picture of Zade squishing me first thing this morning…

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Share about this charming cooking class on Saturday that taught me how to make Lebanese kibbeh and ataif …

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Or talk about how glad I am we had leftovers of my favorite cake from Alpine Bakery.

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Instead, I want to talk about an idea that parts between the commercial appreciation of Mother’s Day and my conscience.

I’ve heard from more people this week that Mother’s Day depresses them or stresses them out more than I’ve heard people who’ve been excited about this day of recognition. This happens every year, and every year I am incredibly grateful that my life’s circumstances hasn’t made me feel this way, but it also makes me wonder if I need to bow out of an occasion that has the potential of making single moms, mothers without mothers, or mothers who’ve lost their children feel pain (not to mention the pressure everyone feels to equate their love for their mothers into how much money spend). These thoughts lead me to a single memory almost every year:

I used to take Mother’s Day very seriously; I still do it today. One year, I locked my mom into her room, dug out pictures of my mom in all of the old family albums, taped them in chronological order to the wall leading from her bedroom into the kitchen, and trailed rose pedals to the breakfast table—stocked with breakfast and gifts. I remember being so excited, thinking she will really feel my love for her and truly feel special. I can’t remember her actually walking the trail or what I cooked for breakfast, but I remember how I felt preparing it for her. Frankly, I don’t even remember who put the pictures away or who washed the dishes. My experience as a mom now makes me certain that I probably left more of a mess for my mom to clean up, put pressure on her to expect and react a certain way, and involved her in the preparation more than I want to admit. And this realization hits me every time: Sure, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a way of making our parents feel appreciated, yes, but it’s more about allowing the kids to feel special about having paid attention to their parents. While beautiful, this can lead to some minor hiccups.

Layla has been making me Mother’s Day cards all week and bought me flowers on Wednesday for the occasion. She gave me a ton of hand-made cards today and a gift from the family, but just an hour ago, she was complaining, “Why isn’t Mother’s Day every day? I really want to do more special stuff with you.” I told her that something every day makes it less special, that every day is Mother’s Day, that I am thankful for both my kids and how I wouldn’t be a mother without them. She continued to pout despite our day and exchange.

How can I blame her? I’ve tried not to fall into the hype or to compare “what did you do for Mother’s Day?” stories, and yet inevitably, it happens; and if I don’t feel my husband has planned enough, somehow I allow myself to momentarily forget that he’s a supportive and wonderful husband all the other days and that he’s always disliked Hallmark holidays but does his best to make me happy.

Therefore, I took matters in my own hands this year. I bought myself my favorite movie trilogy, started the weekend with a fantastic dinner with one of my best friends, arranged for a deep housecleaning, and made an appointment for a facial.

I prepared myself not to have any expectations. I gave myself what I wanted in order to reduce the ridiculous burden so many of us put on this day, and I allowed anything else to be what it is: a time for kids to feel good and husbands to get a gold star.

I’m writing this post wearing something new, with manicured nails, and neater eyebrows than I had yesterday (thank God! Some time alone to groom and roam was built in to this day because my husband is wise!).

I woke up with no expectations and didn’t mind if this Sunday would turn out to be like any other Sunday. All the gestures after this realization made me feel sated and appreciative, and this was exactly the mood I wanted to be in when my family humbled me with their own ideas of today’s celebration.

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2 thoughts on “Preparing for No Expectations

  1. This is genius! I feel like doing something special for yourself takes the stress off everyone. It’s hard when our kids are these ages because they don’t totally get it. Or maybe at J and L’s age they start to, but not the little ones. Then it’s loads of pressure on the husband. Mine was alright this year, but I stupidly volunteered to do an in-law function on Sat and host my extended family Sunday. What was I thinking? Ha.

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    • Thanks for your feedback! I totally understand what you mean about committing yourself to well-intended functions and forgetting what that may mean to you on the actual day. Seizing the day and taking that pressure off was really helpful for me. I hope you have a few extra hours next year (and maybe something off your wish list)– courtesy of yourself :). You deserve it!

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