why mother's day is a sham

Yay, Mother’s Day is right around the corner – oh wait, did I say yay? I meant, oh great, (queue eye roll).

I’m probably among the 3% of moms who actually have a perfect Mother’s Day, but despite that, and after consulting with tons of moms on social media and in real life, I’m here to say that it’s bogus.

Yup, that’s right. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, heck, even Valentine’s Day, you’re all just a big fat farce.

Ah, I’m feeling much better getting that off my chest.

Stick with me to learn why, and comment with your feelings about these holidays.


Why Mother’s Day is a sham

A little history

In America, Ann Jarvis, a peace activist, petitioned to make Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1908 after honoring her mother’s astounding work in public health working on soldiers of both sides of the American Civil War. She wanted to honor all mothers and she did her own because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” 

In 1908, Congress denied her proposal and even joked that they would have to also make a “Mother-in-law’s Day.” While she eventually was successful in her mission with Woodrow Wilson signing the proclamation to make it a national holiday, Jarvis became resentful of how commercialized it became.

It’s so contrived

As a mother, you really become tuned into how incredible your own and ALL mothers are. When someone wrongs you and you hope for an apology, how does it feel when she comes to you on her own to apologize? Different than if you proclaimed an Apology Day and demanded one from her? Probably.

It’s the same with Mother’s Day – this day was deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously, with some mothers putting pressure on their kids to have the extra special treatment, a fabulously grand gift, or the picture perfect family day. Wouldn’t you rather have love, appreciation, and fun times, oh, I don’t know, every day than forceably shoved down your throat on one day?

I’m anticipating an “easier said than done” response to that one, but it’s really not a difficult concept. My mom and Gram are two of the closest people in my life – is it because of how I honor them on Mother’s Day? No, it’s because we foster our relationship every single day.

It’s not for moms in the trenches

Once you become a mom of little ones, you’re what I like to call a mom in the trenches – you’re the ones changing diapers, wiping noses, kissing scraped knees, and hearing mom mom mom momma mommaaaaaa mommyyyy a million times a day, delightfully so, of course, because it’s your absolute honor to be a momma to your kiddos. You’re running around (literally), driving around, multi-tasking to take care of the kids, home, work, and everything else you do on a daily basis.

If anything, this day should be for you to get a break, but it’s really not – it comes down to balancing your own mom’s wishes with your mother-in-law’s wishes, which can turn into a logistical nightmare, scheduling brunch here, lunch there, nap time and your sanity where? I’m just saying, juggling a mom’s, mother-in-law’s, step-mom, and your own wishes doesn’t turn out to be much of a break for you at all – if anything, it may even be more work for you.

It sets your family up for disaster

Whether you, your mom, step mom, or mother-in-law fit in this category, I know 100% one of more of you do – the category of “this day/gift must be perfect or I’ll resent you forever” (or at least a good week).

Just like everyone hypes up prom, and you get there and it’s just like every other dance and you’re like, oh, this is it?, you’ve kind of set yourself up for disaster.

When we have high or unrealistic expectations, we’re normally let down, and is that really fair to your family? It’s putting a lot of pressure on those who love you most – they could try their best or really not try at all, but either way, tensions and expectations are high, and soon they’ll face your wrath. Holidays are always WAY more stressful than normal days when they’re supposed to be the fun-loving special days to make memories.

It makes you feel bratty

Does anyone else ever feel a little bratty about Mother’s Day? Like, “wahh, wahh, I deserve this! Do you know how much I do every day? Things you don’t even KNOW about, things you won’t appreciate until you’re older.” This is all true! Moms, we are amazing!

But now you have Mother’s Day thrown in you and your kids’ faces that THIS IS THE DAY YOU WILL HONOR AND CHERISH ME. Your kids act out; one has a tantrum; you have to wake up extra early; you didn’t get the present you want – WHY, OH WHY COULDN’T YOU GIVE ME JUST THIS ONE DAY?!

Again, this comes back to the point about being contrived – it doesn’t feel good. And it feels a bit bratty.

Mother’s Day solutions

After hearing lots of moms’ situations, (horror) stories, and feelings on Mother’s Day, I’ve come up with a list of solutions.

  • Split the celebration: Celebrate moms and mothers-in-law one day, celebrate you on the other.
  • Be clear about what you want: don’t expect kids or your spouse to read your mind. If there’s something you want to do, just plan it.
  • Self care: Find ways every day or week to take care of yourself – 20 minutes of reading before bed, working out during nap times, pre-scheduling yearly hair appointments, marking down family time on the calendar. Instead of being a martyr, learn to take the time you deserve to yourself and with your family.
  • Don’t have expectations: don’t expect or ask for gifts – is that really something that will make you feel fulfilled as a mother anyway?

Lasting thoughts

So you tell me – do you even LIKE Mother’s Day? How do you balance the day with other moms in your life?