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Why Don’t Moms Like Mother’s Day?

DeAnne Flynn - May 03, 2011

Photo from Deseret Book.
As I sat watching women shop for gifts at a spring art show near my home, I decided to use my social statistics skills from college to take a little unofficial poll, the results of which have inspired some important things to consider while preparing for Mother’s Day this year.

I briefly surveyed one hundred women, ages 20 to 65, and simply asked them a seemingly uncomplicated question: “How do you feel about Mother’s Day?” Remarkably, 72% of the women polled expressed negative feelings about this annual event. (Read LDS Living's Facebook discussion on this very topic.)

Their reasons for disliking Mother’s Day varied, but the facial expressions these women used when describing their feelings were surprisingly similar. I observed plenty of grumpy grimaces with furrowed brows, and forced smiles with rolled-back eyes, as almost three-quarters of the women I surveyed expressed unenthusiastic feelings about observing the upcoming holiday.

“It’s a hard day for me, quite frankly,” one woman shared, “because I have to do all of the work. I cook, I entertain, and I try to celebrate my own mother and mother-in-law, but I usually end up feeling exhausted on the very day that I should be given a break.” Ironically, several other women said they typically dread Mother’s Day because it’s a sad reminder that their own mothers are no longer around to dote upon.

Sheri Robison from Salt Lake candidly acknowledged, “When I was single, Mother’s Day reminded me of all the things I wanted, but didn’t have. People tried to lump me into a group where I didn’t feel like I belonged, and it always made me feel uncomfortable.”

“Uncomfortable” was a word I heard repeatedly while conducting this survey. In fact, more than half of the women I interviewed expressed apprehension about standing to receive the traditional Mother’s Day potted begonia or long stemmed rose at church. And nearly all of these women mentioned feeling more discouraged than inspired after hearing fantastic stories and poems from the pulpit about mothers who “never spoke a cross word” or who “never missed a baseball game.”

“No mom thinks they have it all figured out, or that they’re doing it well,” said Shauna Hoj, a Holladay mother of four. My own mother fit squarely into this category while I was growing up. I remember sitting next to her in church, passing along a steady stream of tissues as she quietly wept through all of those “I had a glorious and perfect mother” talks. At that particular time in her life, my mom was a single parent and her family was certainly not what she had ever envisioned it to be.

Undoubtedly, it is a rare woman who thinks her life has actually become what she had once anticipated, or that she is actually doing “enough” for her family day to day. All too many women mistakenly believe that their efforts must be grand to be great, and that small means insignificant. 
I have wrestled with similar feelings myself while mothering my own seven children. But, over the years, my family has helped me to realize that it hasn’t been the big things I’ve said or done, it has generally been the little things that have made the largest difference in their lives--those outwardly insignificant things we moms so often taken for granted. Like helping our loved ones begin a brand new day with warm, fluffy pancakes in the early morning hours, or providing clean, soft pillows for them to sleep on at night. I call these small efforts “mother’s mites,” and I believe they are the very things every self-sacrificing caregiver should be honored for offering this season.

So, this Mother’s Day, consider using these simple ideas to help show the women you revere just how important they are:

1. Plan Ahead. Instead of going shopping the day (or the night) before Mother’s Day, think of ways to show some much-appreciated attention in advance. Make a list of needed supplies. Assign tasks to various family members. And make it a stress-free, memorable day for everyone involved.

2. Be Aware. Take some time to reflect upon the many ways your wife, mother, grandmother, or nurturer shows her love for you and your family. Write your thoughts down. Try to become more aware of the little things she does that make a large difference in your life.

3. Get Specific. Tell her what you’ve noticed. Detail the things you’ve seen her do and say that you appreciate. Instead of writing generalities on a Mother’s Day card, make your comments specific and personal. She’ll love hearing about the meaningful memories and moments you’ve observed.

4. Give Her a Break. If there’s one thing women truly appreciate, it’s a helping hand. Better yet, it’s ten helping hands! So let the women you love take the day off. Plan, purchase, and prepare the Mother’s Day meals. And, most importantly, CLEAN UP the mess afterward.

Making this Mother’s Day a genuine “holiday” for the nurturing women in your life is easy when you simply focus on little, thoughtful gestures. After all, it’s usually the smallest efforts that matter most.

Visit for more ways to celebrate and affirm those who mother.

(DeAnne Flynn is the author of The Mother’s Mite: Why Even Our Smallest Efforts Matter and The Time-Starved Family: Helping Overloaded Families Focus on What Matters Most from Deseret Book. She is also a “Time Out for Women” presenter and the mother of seven.)

© LDS Living 2011.
Comments 6 comments

melane said...

11:23 PM
on May 03, 2011

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Thank you my dear, kind and loving friend! You not only inspire me, but make me want to be a better Mother, person and friend! I am going to buy "The Mother's Mite" tomorrow as a gift to myself for Mother's Day and I am certain I will find it charming and helpful. Thanks DeAnne :)

theatomicmom said...

01:40 PM
on May 05, 2011

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A very interesting and timely post. I was an "older" (by LDS standards) singleton, and then went thru infertility, so kids were a long time coming for me. I often felt the inadequacy and sense of missing something at Mother's Day. I think Mother's Day can be hard on people who do not have the most ideal relationship with their parents as well, as well as leaving Mother's feeling inadequate and less than perfect. Honestly, more than flowers (that will die), candy (that will make me fat) I like the small reminders and helps that my husband and son give me daily. I also think it's way over commercialized as well. I'm not a big fan of buying into any sort of holiday hype.

newport said...

12:09 PM
on May 07, 2011

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Loved this article! Perfect timing as I'm already feeling overwhelmed about M-Day. I appreciate the reminder that MANY others feel the way I do....nice not to be alone in my quiet and unexpressed feelings! I appreciate the advice on how to focus on the basics and not get caught up in the "grumpy" feeling that usually settle in before the day ends! Thank you!

texasmommy said...

11:21 AM
on May 13, 2011

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I very much dislike Mother's Day. It's a day where my kids feel obligated to pretend as if they like me and that I'm doing a great job as a mother, when the other 364 days each year they treat me as if I'm the most worthless and idiotic creature on the planet. And my husband, who spares no expense or effort when trying to impress everybody else at work and church, will usually buy me some really cheap silver-plated piece of jewelry off the clearance rack at Walmart for a couple bucks, and that's my gift (my husband makes over $150,000/yr, so it's not like we're poor). I don't even want gifts, but I find this particular kind of ultra-cheap, tacky gift very insulting. And I still have to cook and clean as much on that day as on any other day...

wmguymon said...

09:01 PM
on May 16, 2011

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My wife and I will never have kids in this life. So Mother's Day is hard for her. What she hates the most are the "consolation prizes" that they give out to all the women in the ward 18 and over. She avoids it if she can.

catherineheiby said...

01:29 PM
on Jul 21, 2011

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i enjoyed reading your article and it caused me much reflection on my past experiences with this commemorative day. when i was a much younger woman, married and without children (for abt 5 years) Mother's Day was a painful, even dreadful, reminder of what i wanted so desparately, even children because i could not have children. because my husband was a student at the time, we could not even begin the adoption process. i also felt badly on Mother's Day because of all of my friends who also could not have children and others of my female friends who wanted to get married and had no one interested in them---so i mourned for myself and with them. i also found myself attending other Mother's Day events over those 5 years without children, while my husband and i celebrated with both of our mothers, also siblings and other family members to commemorate and celebrate their happiness. i found this extremely painful and uncomfortable. also their were---the flowers, cards and books from the various wards we attended. i would often hide rather than be present to recieve these little gifts. i also felt extreme guilt and remorse for occasionally lying about how i truly felt! later after my husband and i adopted children somehow Mother's Day never materialized for me into a wonderful day as i have often seen other women exhibit. lying about how i truly felt---rather than share how i felt and ruin everyone's special day! later after my husband and i adopted children somehow Mother's Day never materialized into a day that was enjoyable for me, as i had/have seen other women exhibit. for me Mother's Day has always been forever tainted and the day never shaped up into one in which i have found joy, rejoicing and happiness. i think Mother's Day represents the ideal rather than the attainable for most women & sisters, which they will not attain in this life but rather in the life to come if found worthy. i also, i am not comfortable celebrating something while others are in so much pain, i know a little of that pain myself---i know it is real and others feel it too. i would rather celebrate our womanhood rather than motherhood. i think we women have enough burdens on each of us and us and enough things to divide us from one another and separate us from one another without having to endure another Mother's Day.
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