Whole Parenting Family

How I Managed to Not Sabotage Mother’s Day for the First Time

Are you prone to this as well? Oh, you probably exercise extreme self-control and moderate all expectations to a nice flat do-able level. So I’ll just share how I have blown each Mother’s Day (there have been 6!) up until now.

Mind Reader.

My husband had better read my mind and know exactly what I want even though I don’t want to say it aloud because it sounds selfish: LEAVE ME ALONE AND BRING ME DESSERT FOR BREAKFAST AND I DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING EVER ALL DAY LONG.

So when he has hung to what I actually said demurely (oh, lovie, whatever! I just want to enjoy you and the kids!), I seethe inside. Doesn’t he know this hallmark holiday is supposed to alleviate all feelings of mama-frustration? Doesn’t he know I want a break so desperately that I would eschew all the cards and cake for a good long sleep? Doesn’t he know???


Oh, you read that right. P L U R A L. I would love something over the top and impulsive and romantic and planned and wrapped and specific to my latest pinterests and instagrams. Budget what? Kid art–so nice, but I thought this was about my husband lavishing me with the world’s best mother gift. He could actually have that engraved on a silver spoon from which I gobbled up my yogurt parfait (bfast in bed for the win–see #1). Or he could have it embroidered onto a pillow from which I could never rise (sleeping in forever and ever, see #1).

So when he asked if I wanted anything and I took a deep breath to tell him allthethings but also say it in a tone that indicated he should already know, yeah, really pleasant mama day over here. Would this be called momsplaining?


It’s a well known fact mothers do not want to cook on Mother’s Day as most of us prepare food often for ourselves and others. To the point where food feels like fuel and everything kinda tastes like cardboard (except Talenti gelato). But if you also have a small child or six, going out to eat is actually another adventure that involves potty breaks, wrangling, picky eating, and wriggling//whinning so that’s not going to cut it.

AND if your spouse is watching that the children don’t impale themselves on their faux arrows they’ve snapped off obliging trees in the yard (those were alive before this, guys), he probably isn’t also in the kitchen whipping up crepes with nutella and bananas. FULL FAT HEAVY CREAM PLEASE.

Do I have to make it if I want something delicious to eat? How dare he not be able to bi-locate <<kid watching & chef actioning>>?! Deli? Takeout? I WANT IT FRESH.

Our Own Moms.

Oh, yeah, Mother’s Day is also about honoring our own mothers so we need to take them into account and plan for how to accommodate celebrating with our siblings (in my case, two of whom are out of town). They raised us and covered us with love and have earned at least a quiche or scone or fresh OJ or whatnot. I’ve been notoriously bad about actually arranging this with my in-town sisters so it goes smoothly and actually honors our mom without turning into a circus or a huge production that burns me out (I’m the only mom among the crew of siblings in town) and makes me sweat that nursing stanky sweat.

Go out to brunch with Mom? See #3 and kids who also want to celebrate with her but are zero funs in a restaurant. ANGST ANGST ANGST.

So what a whiny jerk, right? I am ashamed to say this has been my perspective nearly every year. And this year came close to crashing back into that pity party fully attended by me, moi, and yo. But after a good long textsation with my sister, I remembered how I had actually changed and how the day could actually be beautiful.

This year I didn’t sabotage it because my expectations had shifted.

When my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I said what I meant and meant what I said: sleeping in a little and a relaxed dinner on the patio.

When he asked if I wanted a gift, I said I wanted a poem because he’s an incredible poet. I also actually do like my kids’ art (acquired taste? I know how hard it is to make!! And gosh, those projects that come home from school? God bless you, teachers). Time with my family is the best gift of all.

I did want quiche. So I baked two of them on Saturday afternoon, picked up a ripe pineapple & fresh blueberries, and already made cinnamon rolls along with that fresh OJ. Everything could be easily warmed up & chopped Sunday am before our gathering for my mom. Premade food by other people, in the case of the rolls. It’s readily accessible and a great substitute for that gourmet brunch. God willing, I’ll bask in the glow of gourmet fooderies for decades after this season of young pups is past. Store-made rolls is just delicious and we’re lucky to have access to yummy and nourishing food.

Honoring my mom worked out great with my sisters. One helped set up for early brunch and the other brought a rhubarb coffee cake + ripe mango (can’t beat <<<). They cleared the table and washed the dishes after. We saluted our mother together, her little triumvirate of girls who live close enough to hug on days like this. This hallmark holiday offered us a chance to show her with our laughter and interruptive stories we love her and life.

How did it go for you? Did you want to cry? Are you longing to hold your baby in your arms? Are you exhausted with lots of littles? Are you solo parenting? Sending you lots of love in this season of life. It’s hard, mamas.


  1. Kara on May 15, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Totally me. Struggled HARD this year. Didn’t help that my husband and I were squabbling over dumb stuff (oh, what sleep deprivation will do to you). And while I don’t always verbalize my complaints (I’m more of the have a major pity party/judgement fest in my head while throwing out the vaguest of hints variety), I still am sure I was probably for from the most pleasant person to be around yesterday. Oh well. Here’s to next year ☺

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 23, 2017 at 7:41 am

      Next year! There’s hope!

  2. M.T. on May 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Oh my yes. Love how you expressed all my guilty thoughts exactly. 😉 I think I did decently this year….until one of my kids (who JUST had a special first communion day) whined about there being no “Kids’Day” and I nearly flipped a disc. Seriously? So I’m still a brat and need more work.
    Love to you and your family. It is so hard, this work and I love how you build us up!

    • Amy Anderson on May 15, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      M.T., your kid is not the only one!! My mother will never forget how my younger brother asked her, one Mother’s Day about two decades ago, “There’s Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, but when is Kid’s Day?” I don’t think she’s ever gotten over the heart attack that question gave her 😉

      • Natural Mama Nell on May 23, 2017 at 7:43 am


    • Natural Mama Nell on May 23, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Ugh. Yes–that’s something that would set me off, too. EVERY DAY IS KIDS’ DAY!!!

  3. Leigh on May 15, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    We it went well. I expects do no mind reading and made it clear I wanted sleep (including a nap alone) and not to cook. I suggested a park picnic.
    Husband added breakfast in bed and locked the kids out of our room for the nap. Dinner picnic was picked up from fresh thyme while he and kids waited in the car.
    It may have been the best Mother’s Day.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 23, 2017 at 7:42 am

      You did it!!!!

  4. Anonymous on May 15, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Yep! Thanks, Nell!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 23, 2017 at 7:42 am

      high fives, friend.

  5. Amy Anderson on May 15, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    My Mother’s Day this year was the day that my husband and I decided that, yes, it’s definitely better when the twins have their tantrums simultaneously, rather than one after another after another all. day. long. So now that’s settled 😉 But it was a beautiful day, and I did take a nap and planted a few plants in the garden and ate angel food cake with fresh strawberries and snuggled some screaming toddlers in between, so those are the things I will try to remember. Blessings on your mothering, friend, today and always.

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 23, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Way to go, girl. And your love & blessings are the BEST!

  6. Angela on May 21, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Wow, glad you asked the question, because I’ve been dying to share my experience with someone (and why not share with a perfect stranger on the internet, lol?!) For the past 7 years of marriage, I have basically asked for the same things for ANY special occasion every year– a card, in which something personal has been written/added. And a thoughtful gift or flowers–doesn’t have to be expensive, just something to ‘prove’ that he has thought about/planned for special occasion (Valentine’s day, Birthday, Mother’s day, etc) IN ADVANCE (like, more than a day before). These are the things that are most important to me. Unfortunately, my husband’s father was notorius for shopping for a Christmas gift for his wife ON CHRISTMAS EVE. And my husband has been content to hold that example up as a standard, rather than listening to his wife’s heart. So this year on Mother’s Day, after another painful (for me) failure, and after some reflection, I informed my husband that he had “lost the privilege” of celebrating special occasions with me. For the next 12 months he is not allowed to celebrate special days with me. If I feel like celebrating, I will invite my mother or a friend to join me. But cards, flowers, meals or gifts from him are not welcome. After 12 months–next Mother’s Day–if he would like to resume cherishing me on special occasions, he may. If he decides he wants to continue not celebrating special days with me, he is free to do that as well (that seems only fair as I am the one making the original demand;) It will be interesting to see how this experiment plays out… I don’t think he has fully grasped the big picture yet. The most interesting date with be Sept 25 (our Wedding Anniversary.) But I desperately need a break, as my poor heart is so bruised from 7 years of this. I will try to remember to post an update a year from now. PS. I should add that my kids are 5.5, 3.5 and 1.5, so it was my husband’s responsibility to plan something/have the kids do something for Mother’s Day.