It is that dreaded time of year for stepmothers everywhere -- Mother's Day. The emotional turmoil and quiet confusion starts several weeks before the holiday and culminates in a litany of rationalizations right up until that dire Sunday. It is reasonable that children spend Mother's Day with their mother. For divorced families, it means that the children are scheduled to be with their mom and rightfully so.
Meanwhile, stepmothers are left to justify why they do not care about Mother's Day. After all, we do not want to show our vulnerabilities. We do not want anyone to know that our feelings may be hurt. We feel silly that our hearts hurt when we are unacknowledged on this day, even though we understand. Mostly, we are keeping a sacred and embarrassing secret -- that is, we feel as if we deserve something on Mother's Day.
I am convinced that there are three lies that stepmothers tell themselves.
1. I Don't Care (Acknowledgment)
Humans crave connections and the need to know that we have mattered. Although it is reasonable that Mother's Day is spent at mom's place, the undeniable urge to feel as though our work has meant something to the family can overwhelm our logic. Think about planning your Mother's Day on another day. One year, we had a Stepmom Happy Hour. It was fun. Most importantly, I got to spend time with the family. At the end of the day, this time is precious and is what really matters.
2. I Don't Have Any Expectations (Premeditated Resentments)
Often, stepmothers do not want to admit that we expect some acknowledgement on Mother's Day. The truth is that most of us are quietly hoping for recognition, even if we know better. The truth is that these expectations are premeditated resentments. In other words, when we have expectations of others, or ourselves, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Often these expectations are unrealistic. To cure this tendency, talk to your partner about your expectations. By being open about your hopes, you will avoid the resentment trap
3. This is a Corporate Holiday. It Doesn't Mean Anything and Can't Hurt Me (Hurt Feelings)
It is true that Mother's Day is a corporate holiday, but it has permeated our everyday culture. It is very difficult to ignore and can become a bastion of hurt. Denying that you feel emotional on this day can only make your feelings worse. Admit your feelings and show your vulnerability to your partner. Consider planning something for yourself and tell your partner that it would make you happy if they did something for you. Just because you had to remind your partner will not lessen the fun that is awaiting you on Mother's Day.
Every mother and stepmother should know that their work is highly appreciated by their families and the world. Do not create premeditated resentments and approach the holiday with a smile and a plan for a fun day. It is all about you. Happy Mother's Day.