“I hate Mother’s Day more than any other day!” A sentiment I hear from many stepmoms at this time of year.
You wake up hoping your partner kisses you, surprises you with flowers, a card and wish you Happy Mother’s Day. And if you’re lucky, you get coffee in bed.
Your stepkids crafted these nice cards for their mom, looking forward in spending the day with her. And what do they give you?
The day continues just as any normal Sunday would. You run errands, do a few chores and maybe watch TV. No one’s connecting the dots between you and Mother’s Day.
You eventually go up to your room, sit on the floor and sob to no end. For many stepmoms, Mother’s Day is one of the hardest days of the year for them. It’s the day when you feel the lack of appreciation and recognition for all you do for the household:
- all those rainy soccer practices you attended
- the workdays missed to stay home with a sick child
- those ER and doctor visits that made you sick with worry
- the thousands of meals prepared will little or no words of “this is good”
- the missed dates with your partner because of unplanned schedule changes
All you’re asking for is a simple “Thanks for taking care of us.”
Stepkids see this day differently. Many see Mother’s Day as a day to honor their “real” mom, the one that gave birth to them. I know many stepmoms see themselves as the ‘real’ mom. I hear you. I understand. But from your stepchild’s perspective, it’s different. They are torn between wanting to honor Mom while also respecting that you play an important part in their lives (even if they don’t see this immediately.)
When you’re neither seen nor heard, you feel invisible. That’s painful. Internally, you understand you’re not your stepkids’ biological parent, still, you want the acknowledgement — like mom.
Logic tells you not to make a big deal out of it. Just let it go. Yet, you feel left out, ignored. You want to shout “I’m HERE! Can’t you at least acknowledge what I’ve done so far?” Your emotions are running high during the very moments you should be joyous.
Here are a few things you can do to ease the pain of feeling invisible during this day of honoring mothers:
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS. Don’t pretend your feelings are not there or that you don’t care. Those unexpressed emotions will pop up at some point later in your relationship and create a huge argument — or, at a minimum, resentment. Think of this as an untreated infection. If you don’t clean the wound up and simply put a Band-Aid over it, it will continue to fester and grow.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS. OK, so your husband didn’t wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. Tell him how that felt. My first Mother’s Day was spent stewing at how my husband ignored me. Later, when he asked me what was wrong, my response was “Nothing!” (Typical.) This only confused him more until I shared how I truly felt about not being acknowledged on Mother’s Day. His response was, “But you’re not my mother!” That was a shocker for me. Our views on Mother’s Day were totally different. Do not assume that others share the same definition or perspective of events as you do. Instead, seek clarity. Listen to my podcast on My First Mother’s Day HERE.
ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. It’s one thing to share your thoughts, but you must also ask for what you want in very specific terms. After all, these are two entirely different things. If getting a card is important to you, tell your partner. Don’t make him guess. Explain why a simple gesture as a card or even a hand written note means a lot to you. We don’t go out to restaurants on Mother’s Day because it’s too commercialized now. I rather enjoy a nice quiet relaxing day, reading, painting or just enjoying a nice glass of red wine.
PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Since Mother’s Day is about recognition and acknowledgment, why not start by giving yourself that gift? Why wait for someone else to do it for you? Plan of some self-care. I could be a spa day, a walk out in nature, going to the movies, or like I mentioned above, a nice glass of red wine with your favorite book. Take the day off. The family won’t fall apart because you’re taking this time for you. Show your family that you value yourself enough to spend some time with YOU! Here are more tips on self-care.
A final note: If Mother’s Day isn’t your cup of tea, that’s totally OK. The following Sunday is Stepmother’s Day! A day just for US!!!
A version of this article first appeared in the 2014 May edition of Stepmom Magazine