, Salem, MA


May 10, 2013

Having low expectations can make your Mother's Day

In theory, Mother’s Day is a day when children are supposed to celebrate and cater to their moms. In turn, mothers have visions of breakfast in bed, children actually picking up after themselves (a true miracle in the making), a day of pampering and no conflict. In other words, it’s either a day in heaven (if you’re religious) or on another planet (if you’re not).

Kids learn early on that Mother’s Day means they do whatever Mom wants. They’re told it’s the day when they’re supposed to show their mom how much they care. And I have no doubt that because almost all kids see their moms as the central positive force in their lives, they do want to make her happy.

But because kids are kids, even when the expected behavior is spelled out, underlined, studied and reinforced, children aren’t always able to express their love on demand. Even adults fail to demonstrate appreciation for others. Gratitude simply isn’t something we teach as part of our daily life curriculum. In fact, expressing thanks can be awkward, like talking with a mouth full of marbles.

This is where a mother’s sense of humor comes in handy. A child’s disastrous attempt to demonstrate his love can become the most memorable and hysterical moment of a mom’s family life. When breakfast in bed ends up on her head, for example, it’s best to roll with whatever comes her way. It’s the effort that counts.

After all, if children are thoughtful enough to try and pull off a “perfect” Mother’s Day, it will be with a cluelessness that’s precious. Sure, some moms may wonder why their kids can’t figure out how to put dishes away, even on Mother’s Day, when they can run circles around us downloading their favorite app. So moms need to remember that, for a child, thinking of his mom’s needs and taking care of his own are worlds apart. Kids care for their own happiness first, long before they consider someone else’s needs, even those of the mother they worship.

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