Updated: Oct 18
It’s that annual Mom holiday again this Sunday, and I don’t know about you other moms, but I’ve been arriving to this holiday each year for 15 years with conflicted feelings. I saw someone on Instagram this week so perfectly admonishing men to step up and allow the moms in their life to step down, if only for this one day. It got me thinking: why do men struggle so much with celebrating their women?
For me, the answer comes in three possibilities:
1) He doesn’t want to,
2) He doesn’t know how, and
3) He knows how but is afraid to get it wrong.
If you have a significant other that falls into category number one, I’m sorry. For that, there is a whole other conversation. For those that have the number two and three version, we might be asked to look at ourselves first, before only pointing the finger on his shortcomings. Hear me out, because I'm not victim shaming, I promise.
You see, probably like you, I’m the planner in the family. I’m worried about and micro-managing things for tomorrow, next week and the middle of summer, sometimes all at the same time. Heck, I was even thinking about Christmas plans last week. Christmas, in May! That's because I oversee most of the calendar, and once something is on the calendar, I’m already thinking menus, guest list, and if the kids have the right thing to wear. Usually, the answer is no.
So, what happens when a mom like me arrives to a holiday like Mother’s Day knowing this is the one day I’m not supposed to plan anything? Yikes! We’re both very quickly out of our element.
It’s really and truly the one day a year all moms should be set free from having to do that job. And yet, I still have very definite ideas about who should be there and what we should do, because there’s always a lot more to consider than just a card and a meal. There are other important moms to include, and gatherings we want to have, with details only I think of in the planning. So, I’m left to ask myself, how on earth can I get what I want if I don’t do it myself?
It's a problem. A problem not entirely in the hands of our husbands and significant others. Here’s what I’ve realized after so many Mothers Days that haven’t exactly been what I imagined: I don’t get what I want because I don’t know how to ask for it, and then trust it will be done.
Actually, to put a finer point on it, I trust it to be done, just not the way I would do it. And therein lies the problem. As much as I want my better half to sweep in and know exactly what I want, how, where and in what color, I’m not sure I’ve given him the chance to build confidence in that area. I want nothing more than to just have it all handled, but I keep beating him to it. Meddling where I don’t belong on this most specific holiday, and probably every other holiday for that matter.
I have the most trustworthy and capable husband, and yet I find it nearly impossible to trust him with plans. My problem, not his. Since I’ve been facing my problems and shortcomings head-on lately, I thought this was a perfect time to consider how to truly just let it be this year. Take my foot off the gas, take my hand off the wheel, and just be grateful for whatever unfolds, because I know that whatever it is, it’s done with love.
We’re sold the idea of what Mother’s Day should look like, but in reality, it can look different for each one of us. In further pursuit of reality, even our most well-intentioned partners might not have made the effort to learn what version we like most. So, this is where our letting go of the wheel comes into play. Allow him to struggle a little to figure it out. Say something like, no matter what you plan I know it will be wonderful, just let me know where to be and what to wear.
This is so much harder than it sounds. The fear that the ball will be dropped. That the effort will not be made, and that the lack of gumption will speak volumes about their depth of love.
So, if we’re to do this well, it’s might have to happen in small steps. Instilling confidence and then stepping back. Dropping a few things in your Amazon cart and letting him know it’s updated. Make a wish list earlier in the year and make sure he knows where to find it. Write down fun ideas or things you love, and share it with him. If you’re like me, and experiences are preferred over things, then your list will be full of parks or museums or cities (wink, wink) you would love to visit.
The key here is help in a way that gives good information but gets us out of the way of the decision making, gift buying, planning and prepping. I write this knowing that this notion is over simplified at best, as there are countless versions of relationships, dynamics, wounds and patterns. I also know that most partners want to show up and be the hero, but we also need to allow them to do it without fear of getting it wrong.
For what it’s worth, I’m trying it. I’ve put too many years into making it hard to celebrate me, so here I am adjusting expectations, stating wants and needs clearly and then allowing the love for me to inform the rest. It might not be everything I hope for right out of the gate, but effort, intention and awareness are sometimes everything. Sometimes, that’s the only gift we need.
To all of the different versions of Moms out there, in all of the different stages of parenting humans, Happy Mother’s Day. Even on your worst day, you really are heroes and saints. Now go enjoy whatever it is that makes you happy. You deserve it all. XOXO