It seems like a simple question, doesn't it? Whose day is Mother's Day? Obviously, Mother's Day is all about Mom, so the day should really belong to her. But what happens when you have two generations of moms, or maybe even three, all vying for attention on the same day? Well, things can get pretty complicated.
Since almost every family has more than one mother in the mix, and not every mother can have her brood simultaneously gathered round as she basks in the spotlight all day, perhaps folks do need some help answering the question. Unfortunately, some of the nastiest Mother's Day behavior I've seen was within families who could not find the grace to compromise on the holidays. For these families, I offer a friendly guide to help determine whose day Mother's Day really is.
Rookie beats veteran
A new mother, particularly one who has given birth within the last year, deserves a day to call her own. New mothers work terribly hard, suffer through sleep deprivation, wear clothes covered in goo, and celebrate the simple things like an uninterrupted shower. Think back, mothers of grown kids. You know that a new mother desperately needs this holiday, and a little extra recognition might help get her through the years to come.
Mom trumps Dad
Divorce can add a wrinkle to all holidays, and Mother's Day is no exception. When ironing out a custody agreement, try to have a heart. I've read heartbreaking posts from friends on Facebook, moms and dads alike, who missed out on Mother's Day or Father's Day with their kids because their ex wouldn't allow them to trade days. I can't think of much that would be sadder than wanting to be with your kids on Mother's Day and knowing they were spending it with their dad's new girlfriend instead. If safety is not an issue, try to be compassionate to your kids' mom on Mother's Day.
Grandmas have their own day
Grandmothers have raised their children, and they had a chance to be celebrated as mothers when their own kids were growing up. Grandmothers will never stop being moms, but they have a whole new role, in many ways an even better role, and they should gracefully relinquish Mother's Day to their daughters and daughters-in-law. Just make sure they are celebrated nicely on their own special day. National Grandparents Day is the Sunday after Labor Day, and was signed into law in 1978.
Family gatherings aren't for everyone
Big family gatherings, where all the moms are celebrated together can be a lot of fun, but often they are not. Family dynamics can cause the day to be uncomfortably tense. Even if things are nice between family members, the preparation and clean up duties often fall to the women, the very mothers the day is meant to honor. And for a young mom who is expected to attend a gathering on her husband's side of the family, this means leaving her own mother out of the equation. If a family gathering is a must, the family on the maternal side should take priority. Father's Day is right around the corner, after all.
Extend the celebration
Once you have determined whose day is Mother's Day, you may still want to do something nice for another mom in your life. Nothing says mothers can only be celebrated on Mother's Day. If someone, perhaps a mother-in-law or great grandmother, is left out of your Mother's Day plans, you can still celebrate with her some other time over the weekend. Take her to lunch on Saturday, or dinner Friday night. If she has any tact at all, she will just appreciate the time you spend with her instead of obsessing over the particular day.
Maybe just chuck it all
Mother's Day was declared a national holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, after several years of lobbying by Anna Jarvis. Jarvis wanted a national holiday to honor her own mother and all mothers, but as greed and commercialism took over the day, she eventually regretted ever working to create it. As a mom who would rather have a quiet day off than any sort of party or celebration anyone could conceive, I think maybe some years the whole thing ought to just be forgotten. Let Dad take the kids to the movies, and then out to play mini-golf, and just spend a lovely day in peaceful silence. Before you know it, Monday will be here and Mother's Day will all be over anyway.
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