What I Learned This Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day was the best one I’ve had in the 7 years since becoming a mom. I’d like to tell you why, because I think it matters. Mother’s Day, like many special days in a mom’s life, can be a day of disappointment. Year round, we devote ourselves to making special days magical for our families. When it’s our turn, we look for magic, but find the mundane instead. This year, I did things a little differently. And guess what? It was magical.

The Ghost of Mother’s Day Past

I recently discovered that I have an uncanny ability to believe that people are mind readers. I assume that anyone who loves me must already know what I want from them, and is willing and able to give that to me. I feel loved when people anticipate my needs and wants. I feel like they see me, like they know me deeply. I like feeling so intimately known that someone can figure out how to make magic for me without having to say a word.

Every year, I woke up on birthdays, Mother’s Days, and other special days hoping to find thoughtful gifts and well-planned activities. Instead, I often found my husband running out at 10am and coming back with grocery store flowers and one of the last remaining cards on the shelf. Or, I got gifts that were sweet, but that weren’t at all something I would want or enjoy. No magic. Just disappointment.

The Problem with Expecting Magic

When I expect magic, without defining what magic is to me, I am asking the people who love me to be mind readers. Yes, it is wonderful when someone can foresee your needs and truly blow your mind with a gift that is out of this world. But if we’re being honest, that’s a pretty high bar to set. We are asking our loved ones to take a risk, and to possibly get it wrong. What I’ve learned throughout the years is that expecting my husband to be a mind reader only sets us both up for disappointment. I hate feeling let down on my special days. Not only that, I hate feeling like I’m acting like a brat because I’m disappointed. My husband feels disappointed, too, realizing that he didn’t come through for me the way I wanted him to. I feel unseen, he feels like a failure. And it hurts both of our self-esteems.

How I Made the Magic This Year

I decided to do things differently this time. Well enough in advance, so that my husband had time to make it all happen, I told him exactly what I wanted. I wanted an ice cream maker for my KitchenAid standing mixer. Or, I wanted one of the cupholders that’s made for our LoveSac sofa so that I have a place to rest my coffee while I write. I would have been happy with either. He got me both. I also added him to my private Amazon wish list so that he knows exactly the kinds of things I enjoy without me having to tell him. From that list, he also picked out a book I’ve been dying to read.

I told him that on special days, I want time for myself. I love being with my family, but I am a recluse in many ways. My battery gets drained when I’m around people for too long, and as a wife and a mom, my life gets too peopley very easily. This was important for me to communicate to him, because he has always assumed that on special days, especially Mother’s Day, I would want to be with the kids.

And I DO. I do want to be with them. But I also need some alone time. So, this morning, I woke up to find my new cupholder already installed on the sofa, my new book on the armchair, and my coffee all set up in the coffee maker, just needing me to push the button. My husband watched the kids while I took my morning to myself. As I write this, I’m sitting at Starbucks. I was sent out the door to have a coffee and get some work done, which I told my husband is what I want to do with my additional alone time. I’m recharging, and it feels spectacular.

Later today, we are making a little picnic and taking the kids to a grass-covered plaza in our neighborhood. That will be our family time together. I expressed to him — IN ADVANCE — that I wanted to do family activities, but only after I got my alone time. I’m very excited about those plans.

Why I’ll Do This Every Mother’s Day From Now On

I’ll never go back to expecting my family to read my mind. Why would I set us all up for disappointment, when I can help my family make magic? It’s so much better for all of us when I set my loved ones up for success.

Furthermore, this year healed a very specific wound in my heart. I had started to believe that maybe I am a brat. Maybe I have unrealistically high expectations, and I feel entitled to way more than what is necessary or even attainable. Feeling constantly disappointed has a way of making you feel like you’re the problem. This year, I’ve learned that I am not entitled or bratty. I don’t expect too much. Actually, it takes very little to make me happy. It just needs to be the right things — the things that truly fulfill me and bring me joy. And, if I’m being honest, it needs to feel at least a little planned in advance.

Some people are great mind readers and gift givers. Other people aren’t, and that has to be okay. I’ve embraced that it’s okay to show my husband how to make the magic for me. In fact, it’s healthy. It allows me to have my needs met, without expecting my husband to be someone he’s not.

This will be my new normal every Mother’s Day. If you haven’t given it a try, I suggest you do. You may find the magic after all.

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