It is a truth, universally acknowledged but never, ever spoken, that Mother’s Day is a bit of a letdown for the moms of young ones. It’s a revelation I wasn’t ready for when I first became a mom. Initially, I was excited about being a celebrant. I cooed over sweet cards and the footprint art made by the excellent teachers at daycare. I savored the cup of coffee brought to me in bed. I felt like the newest member of a revered club.
But somewhere between attending church with my grandmother, a crowded, hot brunch for my mom, and an equally-crowded, equally-hot dinner for my mother-in-law, I realized something: I was the newest member of a revered club, and that made me the low woman in the motherhood pecking order. It might be “my” day, but that didn’t get me out of darting up the aisle of the church with a wailing baby during the prayer, occupying my toddler during interminable restaurant waits (because everyone goes out to eat for Mother’s Day), managing car snacks and activities as we drove from one celebration to the next, and generally feeling completely wiped and exhausted by the end of the day.
To be clear: I love the other mothers in my family and do not begrudge celebrating them and their impact on my life. But it’s also glaringly obvious that Mother’s Day isn’t really your day until you reach family matriarch territory. So what’s a mom of littles to do? Take over and plan your own day, of course.
As is true of most things in life, this plan is better executed with friends. To get the ball rolling, someone will need to go first in the group chat and confess her dissatisfaction with Mother’s Day. Maybe it feels a little risky, but I promise, you’re not the only one. As soon as the first admission is made, commiserations will pile in. And then ... then you get to plan.
Not on the actual day—no one needs to start a family battle over Mother’s Day of all things. But any day or evening will do. My friends and I have met up for a fancy brunch the Saturday before. Headed to a local winery for a tasting. Last year, in the midst of safer-at-home orders, we sat in camping chairs spaced six feet apart and drank mimosas in the yard. This year, we’re taking our newly fully-vaccinated selves to the spa for massages and facials. Some years have been budget-friendly and others have been more of a splurge but the rule is simple: we do something we want to do. It’s a celebration of ourselves as mothers, but also of our friendship and the way we are there for each other through late night texts and problem-solving and advice sharing.
My friend Anna once said that the best part about motherhood is the other mothers, and Mother’s Day will always be a celebration of that. But when the obligation of the day weighs a little heavy, remember that there’s an option more appealing than festering resentment and complete exhaustion. It’s called planning your own day, and it’s the perfect gift because it always fits just right.