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5 Things on a Mother's To-Do List for Mother's Day

When the kids were growing up, Mother's Day brought breakfast (crumbs) in bed, handmade gifts and special dinners. But with adult children, is the notion of "Queen for a Day" as outdated as the 1960s TV show?

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Over the years, our fantasy changes: At one time we wanted 10 minutes alone to take a shower. Now we want our adult children under the same roof at the same time. Stoked by the advertising hype, it's easy to imagine a magical Mother's Day, only to be disappointed when we don't get a card, a call, a visit or some token of their appreciation for all we have done!

For a reality check, we talked to Marie Hartwell-Walker, a psychologist who wrote Tending the Family Heart and mother of four children ages 24 to 34. "Moms can end up distressed when their expectations are not met," she agrees. "Then they become angry and lay a guilt trip on the adult children who have their own lives, sometimes more complicated then they're willing to share."

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Drawing on advice from Hartwell-Walker and several friends, we compiled a Mother's Day "to-do" list to avoid disappointment this Sunday:

  • Be proactive. If you want to visit, call in advance and see what can be arranged. If they can't visit, make plans to share the day with other family and friends.
  • Reach out. If you want a call and the phone doesn't ring, don't steam. Call your child and have a loving conversation. You'll feel better for taking the high road. If they don't answer, text a few emoticons (friendly ones, not subversive).
  • Treat yourself. If there's some gift you really want, why wait for someone else to get it? For all those years of raising kids, working, cooking, carpooling and cleaning, you deserve something special. Give yourself that spa treatment or special dinner.


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  • Remember friends. How about calling or visiting some other moms - contemporaries and wise, older relatives - who helped you survive from colic through college and beyond? A good laugh over shared memories can be the best medicine if you're feeling down.
  • Send a card. Remember Mother's Day involves mom and child. So send your adult child a thank you card for making you a mother. There's ready-made cards for daughters and daughters-in-law (yes, her too!). You'll have to make one for your son. With a heartfelt note, a loving card can become a reassured keepsake.


Mary W. Quigley's blog, Mothering21, tackles parenting of emerging adults and beyond.

Photo: eyewave/iStockphoto


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