It’s the Monday morning after Mother’s Day and some first-time mums will have woken up today still basking in the afterglow of a day where they felt special, cherished and spoilt by their little family.
For others, though – and, judging by the volume of comments I saw yesterday in multiple Facebook mums’ groups, quite a lot of others – they’ll be trying to dust off the fog of disappointment that overcame them yesterday, when they woke up as usual to find their partner failed to make a fuss over them – or even acknowledge the day at all.
The sheer volume of first-time mums seeking out the support of other mums online for feeling sad about the lack of fuss made was heartbreaking. So many woke up with excitement – many for a milestone that had been years in the making as they struggled to become mums for one reason or another – only to have their newsfeed full of other mums being made a fuss of. Those same mums had usually organised gifts not only for their own mothers but for their partner’s mum as well, because that’s what we do, right?
If you’re one of these mums, I have a few truths to share with you.
Firstly, you’re amazing. Becoming a mother is the most transformative, heart-shattering, doubt-and-joy-filled adventure you’ll ever experience and you’re not silly or selfish or high-maintenance for wanting to feel some acknowledgement on Mother’s Day.
Secondly, if your partner uttered those ridiculous four words that so many clueless partners have before them – “you’re not MY mother” – I encourage you to fart on their pillow.
Finally, I want to tell you that while neglecting you on your first Mother’s Day is thoughtless and ignorant and more than a little selfish, this doesn’t necessarily mean your partner is a dud. I’m not into making excuses for men but I do believe that the first year of parenting requires a lot of benefit-of-the-doubt going back and forth between partners.
Next year’s to-do list
That’s why this next part of the article isn’t actually for you at all, new mum. It’s for you to screen-shot and send to your partner in a not-so-subtle hint about how not to screw up next year’s special day.
Here goes …
Hey new dad,
I hear you f***ed up.
I’m not here to beat you over the head with it, but I am here to tell you exactly how to not have a repeat of this next year. Father’s Day is in a few months, and chances are the mother of your child, in spite of her disappointment over the way you approached her first Mother’s Day, will pull out all the stops to make you feel appreciated come September. Consider this list of dos and don’ts your 12-month warning to make next year really special for everyone.
- Listen up throughout the year to things/events she mentions being interested in. If she comments on a friend’s necklace or a special book she loves, track that friend down and ask where they got it. Write it in your phone, or better yet, just go online and order it so you have it there as a gift when the time comes
- Put a reminder in your phone for six weeks before the second Sunday in May. Go on, do it right now so you don’t forget. In the reminder, write ORGANISE MOTHER’S DAY. Don’t snooze it when it comes around, start planning. And order a gift. “It isn’t going to arrive in time” is no excuse when you’ve had the entire year to get something sorted.
- Make the day special by actually listening to what she wants. Hint: I guarantee a sleep-in or at least an hour alone with a coffee scrolling her phone is going to be part of it.
- Plan in advance what needs to happen to facilitate this sleep-in. Maybe it’s you prepping clothes for the baby the night before so that you can take them out of the house and leave Mum in peace as soon as baby stirs. Maybe it’s just figuring out how you can be in one end of the house so that peace and quiet is ensured.
- Figure out the in-law sitch. Sure, you probably want to see your mum, and she probably wants to see hers. That’s great – if there is going to be an event organised, make sure you work around it to gift your partner some downtime before or after.
- Change every nappy that day. It’s one day, but every time you jump up first for a nappy change will be appreciated, I promise.
- Put something down in writing. Take the time to actually tell her all the things you appreciate about her as a mother. She has probably doubted herself more in the past year than you could ever imagine. Now is your chance to remind her how worthy she actually is.
- Give her a big shout-out on social media. Tell the world what an amazing mum she is and use a flattering photo when you do it. Have this in the back of your mind throughout the year and remember to snap a few cute shots of her when she is doing her mum-thang. I guarantee she has hundreds of sweet snaps of you with the kids in her phone.
- Get defensive. She gave up almost a year of her body being her own to carry your child. She either endured her vagina being punched out from the inside or her abdomen being sliced open. You whingeing about “Hallmark Holidays” or “high expectations” is just childish.
- Think it’s not your job. Unless your kid has the executive functioning of an adult, a credit card and their own set of wheels to get to the shops and organise something, it IS your job. It’s your job until the kids are teenagers. And when they ARE teenagers, it’s still your job to remind them.
- Rely on the daycare gift. Yes, your kid will probably come home from school or daycare with an adorable hand-made card, but this is your chance to add your own appreciation to the pile. If you don’t feel like she deserves your appreciation, question why this is, and then buy her something anyway.
Feeling supported and appreciated is one of the ways that mums can keep their mental health in good shape. Of course, one day is not going to change anything, but reminding her just how vital she is to your little family is a great start.
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