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Ed:  Today the Parent.co team is gathered to discuss Mother’s Day. We have three dads: Mike, Ed, and Justin. And three moms: Angela, Sara, and Autumn. And two women who don’t have kids, but do have moms who they’re close to: Amanda and Katrina.


Many people – including moms – have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. We accept that it’s kind of a Hallmark holiday, a manufactured obligation to get us to buy stuff like cards and chocolate and flowers.

But then again, Mother’s Day does provide an opportunity to focus on the moms in our lives, to celebrate and thank and appreciate them.

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Angela: I think that’s my fundamental problem with Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Anytime there’s the one day on the calendar it almost creates an implicit excuse to forget about that appreciation the rest of the year.

Autumn: We are sort of teaching our kids to experience the stress of this thing you have to do – ‘hurry up and get the crayons and feel guilty’ – and feel all these other things around it.

I don’t really care if my kids spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. I don’t want my husband to be like ‘You gotta make something for your mom!’ and they’re like ‘We do?!’

Sara: There’s a Buzzfeed article of kids’ Mother’s Day cards. In one a kid wrote ‘I am writing this so I can eat.’ At school they were like, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this before lunch.’

Angela: I think the only gift that I’ve ever gotten my mom that I felt pretty good about was a bouquet of flowers delivered every month for a year. That was an opportunity for us to have a monthly exchange about how much I appreciate her and care about her. Anything to stretch out the appreciation for the whole year.

Ed:  Maybe Mother’s Day can be seen as another opportunity to teach kids to understand  gratitude, how to express it.

Autumn:  Basically, I think that we – moms – want to be recognized. We want to be seen. We want to be seen and appreciated.

Then there’s a bigger conversation of how do we help our kids and our spouses understand that a big part of getting through life is saying ‘thank you.’ 

Someone saying ‘I know it was kind of a pain for you to leave that thing to go do that other thing to pick up the kids and that wasn’t the plan but you did it and that’s really awesome. That’s really helpful.’

Angela: It’s an opportunity to express those things that you feel like you don’t get to express. That’s a positive. It helps us remember.

Autumn: There’s also that other layer that’s becoming a little noisier year to year. It’s a corporate driven, sort of saccharine holiday that puts women without kids into this crappy space.

Either they chose not to have kids or can’t have kids or have lost a child. I know you can’t be responsible for every person every second of the day, but what does this feel like to these other women?

Sara: That’s what it’s like these days being on social media. Before, you’re might have those feelings on your own, but no one is throwing them in your face every second.

Ed: It’s something to be thoughtful about. I wonder if that’s another reason why Father’s Day is so much more muted than Mother’s Day. Most single parent families are kids living with a mom.

Autumn: I heard Howard Stern say one year, and it’s so true, ‘Why are we doing this whole Father’s Day thing, because for many people Father’s Day is the day you go and look for your dad.’ It’s cruel but true.

Justin: Unfortunately that probably is true.

Ed: What makes a great Mother’s Day gift?

Angela: If my kids have spent time on something and taken care when they’re doing it, I don’t care if it’s functional or not. I would just be thrilled to get it.

But then I would feel guilty when I threw it away. They would say “Mommy, where’s that thing I gave you?”

Sara: And you’d have to say, ‘Here’s the truth: it was kind of crappy.’

Angela: I guess for me it’s about time. It’s showing time and appreciation. Either giving me time or spending time doing something, or in some other way a gift of time shows appreciation to me. I definitely don’t want or don’t expect my husband to get jewelry for me.

Ed: Autumn looks incredulous. Autumn is giving the skeptical look.

Autumn: That’s the tricky part of these holidays, aside from the schlock and the cheese and the precious stuff. There’s often this expectation that you need to do something.

Then, I think there’s this dynamic where moms are approached by their partners and it’s like ‘Well, hey, so I didn’t really do anything yet.’

Then it’s your responsibility to either let them off the hook or be the a-hole that’s like, ‘Well you’re supposed to do something.’

I know I definitely don’t want to know that nothing has happened yet, and he hasn’t really done anything.

That makes it even worse. Because it puts it on the other person. The same with Valentine’s Day. The same with birthdays. The same with all holidays.

Sara: I think that is kind of a crappy dynamic. It exists because the holiday exists.

Amanda: I wish I could go back to being able to make my mom something for Mother’s Day that she would appreciate and love and just coo over.

The biggest thing for Mother’s Day – even in Google Search Trends – is this whole concept of brunch. I like the idea of making food and spending time together, but I don’t live near my mom. So I’m left with sending flowers I guess. I still want to make popsicle stick art for her.

Mike: In our household, Mother’s Day is ironically about relief from being a mother.

It’s kind of an interesting thing. ‘You can get away today. Here’s a spa day – take a break from your responsibilities as a mom. I got the kid. See ya! Take the day and do whatever you want.’

Angela: Autumn and I were talking about this last week. My perfect Mother’s Day would be to spend the morning with my kids and my husband and to have family time, and to also have some time to myself.

But even better than having time to myself would be to have time with friends. To have time with other female friends.

Sara: I feel guilty when I’m out indulging just myself but if I’m out with my friends and we’re shooting the shit there’s really nothing that’s more fun than that.

Last year in my daughter’s preschool class they sat down and the teacher took time with each little kid asking a series of questions about the mom. It was so sweet – except for the part when my daughter said my job was “vacuuming.”

It’s just a simple piece of paper. I’m sure I still have it somewhere but I also took a photo of it. That’s something that is going to be a part of our life. That’s a gift.

 

Ed: What is everybody doing for their mom or their wife on Mother’s Day. Be honest. I’m taking Erika to see “Captain America.”

Sara: I cross my fingers that a statement necklace shows up for me. And maybe I’ll call my mom instead of throwing her a text.

Amanda: I’m on the fence this year. I may make a surprise trip to see my mother. Even though she’s been an empty nester for a while, for some reason it’s really hitting her hard this year. Out of nowhere. I think it’s because we’re calling her a lot less. Even though we’re texting more. I mean she really has a grasp on emojis!

She’s starting to feel more of a physical distance that’s unnerving her so I might just make a surprise visit. She will love it because I will have to catch up on like three months of conversations.

Justin: I’ll be in Montreal so we’re gonna have a whole weekend up there.

Autumn: You’ll be in Montreal with your wife?

Justin: With my wife and my kids. My mother and father. Sunday when we come back we usually do a barbecue and so I’ll do that.

I usually have the boys pick out a way that they can help mommy on Mother’s Day and carry it through the week. So it’s a chore that they pick up through the week. Something to help their mom out.

I have a hard time subscribing to the gifts. I think the thing is kind of a Hallmark holiday. So instead I try to show her how much she’s a great mom every day and not just for Mother’s Day.

Mike: My wife sent me a link to some sandals. She was like ‘This is what I really want,’ and I’m like ‘Okay. I’ll get them for you.’

That’s how it is every holiday. It’s fantastic –  it makes it a lot easier, and it takes the stress out of it. We’ll go out to dinner, or I’ll make dinner for the family and Dominic will do something nice for her.

If she wants the day on Sunday she can do whatever she wants. We don’t make a big deal out of it.

Autumn: I was thinking of sending a link for the gift I want to my husband. He doesn’t like it because it takes the surprise away. I’m like ‘Why are you fighting me on this?’

Mike: My wife is like ‘Wouldn’t you rather know that you’re getting me exactly what I want?’ And I’m like ‘Yes.’ She’s like ‘Remember the mixer?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah. I remember the mixer.’

She’s like, ‘Just stick to the plan.’

Sara: I’ll never forget the mixer.

Autumn: I don’t know what’s going to happen. I won’t be home for most of the day because I’m going to New York for a girl party. I’ll be home mid-afternoon Sunday.

I want to be like, ‘Hey cool, now we’re together but I kind want to go from the airport to yoga and then come home and then have dinner. Great, that’s it!’

I think probably that.

Angela: My husband is going to be gone for work. I don’t think he even knows, honestly, that it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. I’m going to be at home with our kids and my mom. And I’m happy that my mom is going to be with me on Mother’s Day.

Ed: You look convincingly happy.

Angela: I am happy. She likes Mother’s Day. The big take away: no special plans except to spend time with my mom and my kids.

Ed: What are you going to do with your mom?

Angela: I don’t know. I really meant to make freaking brunch reservations.

Katrina: Freaking brunch, that’s a good one for home.

Angela: I don’t like cooking.

Katrina: I’m hosting a Mother’s Day brunch thingy or dinner, I guess. Dinner with my mom and Andy’s mom. My grandmother.

Amanda: Growing up, it was important to my aunts that they were around their nieces and nephews on Mother’s Day. To recognize that they were participants in their lives and had appreciation in that day as well.

Angela: I think when used properly Mother’s Day relieves symptoms of neglect, disconnection, the sense that you are not seen. That sort of invisibility thing that we sometimes feel.

I think it’s a really good idea, and it’s sad when it turns into a stressful occasion; when there’s commercial pressure, or consumerist pressure.

What Amanda just described, that sounded fantastic – generations of women together with their children and their nieces and nephews just to celebrate.

A celebration of the women in my family – that sounds beautiful.

Mike: I don’t think Mother’s Day is bullshit. It creates a focal point for your appreciation throughout the year.

Ed: It probably teaches kids how to show thanks and be appreciative.

Angela: It all comes down to time and sentiment and intention.

Autumn: Wow, we worked it out didn’t we?

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

$69.95

Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

$79.95

Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

$135.00

Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

$79.95

Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$79.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:

Kindness

Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.

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Responsibility

Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.

Patience

Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.

Politeness

Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.

Flexibility

Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.

Empathy

Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.

Cooperation

Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.

Gratitude

Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.

Respect

As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
Learn + Play

Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.

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This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.

News

Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).


Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

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  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


ORDER A BOX

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My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.

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But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

Life
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