What's a Good Son to Do?
Dear Son • If you want to get a lot of hate mail, do what I did once and write a column about how you think Mother's Day is an excuse invented by Hallmark to sell more cards. Good times!
The truth is that not every mother loves Mother's Day. Rather than feeling appreciated, some women feel like they can't and don't measure up to an impossible standard of motherhood. Maybe your mother is one of them. Take it from me, however. You'll be in more trouble if you DON'T acknowledge her on Mother's Day than if you do. Like that suit guy on TV says, "I guarantee it."
Dear Ann Cannon • Ugh. Holidays have turned into a nightmare for me and my husband because of our families. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Easter. Mother's Day. Our parents his father and stepmother, his mother, my parents all want a piece of us whenever another holiday rolls around. We try to see everybody, but it's exhausting and they act resentful when we don't (can't) stick around. What should we do?
Tired of Pleasing
Dear Tired • OK. This is going to be a two-part answer. Part One is for you and your husband. You're in a tough position, and I sympathize. Trying to please so many people is hard. For what it's worth, our family handled holidays this way: We alternated. If we spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family one year, we spent the next Thanksgiving with mine. This, of course, isn't the only way to address your problem, and I invite readers to share their experiences with you.
Now here's Part Two. It's addressed to the parents of adult children who find themselves in the above situation. I get it. We all want to be the alpha parents in our adult kids' lives. But come on. Let's be the grownups here, OK? Spending time with extended family shouldn't be viewed as a competitive sport with winners and losers. Make it easy for your kids to spend time with you AND with their other families, as well.
Dear Ann Cannon • I'm a mother who invariably finds herself in the position of taking care of my own mother and mother-in-law on Mother's Day, which I am actually OK with. However, no one seems to remember that it's Mother's Day for me, too. Suggestions?
The Forgotten One
Dear Forgotten • It's generous of you to take care of your mothers (I hope your partner helps with the mother-in-law!), so give yourself a pat on the back. Meanwhile, I'm guessing you're not the only woman who finds herself in this position. Maybe it's time for you (as my friend Dorothy the Therapist says) "to use your voice." Let your family know that you want to be acknowledged, too, and tell them how to do it. It would be lovely if people could read our minds so we don't have to spell things out, but they don't unless, of course, the mutant Jean Grey is a close personal friend of yours.
Dear Ann Cannon • I'm a single woman with no children. People automatically assume Mother's Day must be hard for me, so they try to make me feel better by honoring me as a mother of another kind. Instead, I feel patronized. Thoughts?
Not a Mom
Dear Not • No one likes to feel patronized. And I've heard women in your position say the same thing. But I've also heard women say they appreciate being honored for the influence they've had in other people's children's lives. Giving birth isn't the only prerequisite for mothering. Bottom line, if you really don't want acknowledgment on Mother's Day, let your people know. You're within your rights to do so. Otherwise, accept the well-meaning intentions of your associates and move on.
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