Confessions of a Mother’s Day Grinch

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Years ago, a good friend of mine gave me a hilarious book called Today I Will Nourish My Inner Martyr: Affirmations for Cynics. If you know me, you know that I am totally into affirmations. I say them every day. My kids have “AFFIRMATIONS” listed on their job chart. And before I let them leave the house, I ask, “Did you brush your teeth, say your prayers and do your affirmations?” I am just kind of crazy in love with affirmations! And this book is full of them…. but not exactly the good kind. For example:

Today I will become an expert at hiding my feelings.

Today I will pretend that everyone I see is judging me.

Guilt will be the driving force behind all my actions today.

I will remain tense all day.

Are you laughing?  This book is pretty hilarious.

I am not a cynic.  And yet, every year, around Mother’s Day, cynicism seems to bubble up in me spontaneously.  There is something about this holiday that makes me feel like I wrote this book.

I hate Mother’s Day.  No, that is not true.  I am just a Mother’s Day grinch.

I have a wonderful mother.  She is an angel!  I have an amazing mother-in-law and grandmothers.  I appreciate them!  I definitely want to recognize them for their sacrifice and their investment in me.

I have a dear husband and eight remarkable children.  They are my life.  I have been richly blessed with all the opportunities of motherhood.  It is the life I have chosen.  And I don’t even resent the sacrifice it requires.  Why, then, do I cry (and not a happy cry) when I hear the words: “Dear mother these flowers remind me of you?”

Motherhood itself is a sensitive subject.  It evokes our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows.  For many, unmarried and childless women, Mother’s Day arouses visceral grief.  Some, who have had children, are unable to have more.   And others have no spouse to support and appreciate them in their most demanding role.  I weep for all these women on Mother’s Day.  Their pain is real.

Even those women who seem to have ideal family situations, like me, have very real struggles.  Motherhood is tremendous work; it requires absolutely everything we have to give.   And so often, we feel like we are failing.  For me, Mother’s Day exposes a great divide—a gaping separation between the mother I am and the mother I wish I could be.

At some level, I wish my life were picture perfect, with me an ageless beauty rearing clean and cooperative, flower-bearing children.


Every year, I am asked what I want for Mother’s Day.  And every year, I am frustrated by the question.  My children should already know what I want.  After all, I tell them EVERY day. But they are generous and want to buy me something, a token of their love.

I want to tell them that when we really appreciate our mothers, when we really love them and value them, we will work to become who they raised us to be.  We will honor their lives and their sacrifice with ours.

I want to tell them to be their very best selves, despite all my mistakes. That is what I really want for Mother’s Day.

I know that my husband and kids need me to graciously receive  their adoration… and not have a meltdown or cry and lock myself in my bedroom (not that I have ever done that before).  After all, I am the mother and it is my job to teach my children to show proper gratitude.

Because they need me to be emotionally healthy on this very special day, I will be making use of the following affirmation:

Today I will have absolutely NO expectations!

Or even better than my silly, cynical affirmation, I could humble myself and say these.  After all, Mother’s Day follows closely on the heels of Easter.

 Today I will depend more completely on my Savior.

Where I lack, He will make me enough. 

Where I fail, He will succeed.

Where I sorrow, He will comfort me.

Where I have unmet expectations, He will bring me peace.

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  1. Vanessa says

    comment shared via Facebook

    Beautiful. I’m definitely in the hater of mothers day/Valentine’s day/ etc. You are a fabulous writer!

  2. jane randall says

    Beautifully put.
    Also, get yourself a little gift of something you’ve been wanting. You truly deserve it!

  3. Keisha says

    comment shared via Facebook

    I’m so glad you wrote this because I don’t feel so alone now for hating mothers day!! Love you!!

  4. Dawna says

    comment shared via Facebook

    My children will tell you that I have a rough time on Mothers Day. They know it has nothing to do with our family, It’s my childhood days. I do not like to sing Love at Home.

  5. Serena says

    comment shared via Facebook

    Love this! Mother’s Day has always made me feel a tad uncomfortable. I think your feeling the way most moms do on the day. Thanks for the post! It made me smile!

  6. Jenny says

    There is nothing more ridiculous than someone who quotes himself. Does it hold true if I am a “herself”? Because I’m about to do it. :)

    A couple of years, I wrote what has since become my favorite blog post of all time. ( In it, I concluded:

    “…this is why we celebrate Mother’s Day–so we can give our mothers a present once a year, and be forgiven for all of the stuff we do the rest of the time. And as mothers, we can in turn thank our own angel mothers who did the same for us when we were growing up.”

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      I just read your blog post Jenny. I LOVED it! I get a kick out of Emmy lovingly giving you a flower (she procured by disobedience) for your Mother’s Day gift and your obligatory Mother’s Day response. This story is hilarious and speaks volumes! I’m so glad you gave us the link!

  7. Jen says

    I love and miss my mom more than I can say, everyday. However, I rejoice that we don’t have to celebrate Mother’s Day. It was always the worst holiday.

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      You are such an example to me Jen! The way you ALWAYS speak about your mother is with so much respect and love. It reminds me how I should treat my own mother, who I am blessed to have still living. Thank you!

  8. Tracy says

    Seriously, why is Mothers day so hard? I agree with your sentiments about your (my) mother and mother-in-law. Why isn’t it enough for me to just honor and be happy for them? Very thought provoking.

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      I wish I could wrap my mind around the “why” Tracy. Even though I don’t understand it, I have tried to be a good sport. I want to appreciate the mothers in my life the way they would want to be appreciated, and not just once a year.

  9. says

    I think the take home message for all of us, me included, is: lighten up. It is a day to officially say “Mothers are neat.” Is that so much to ask? And on occasion, I have been known to be neat too. And that deserves celebration. :)

    I also love Valentine’s Day. Ironically, I AM a cynic naturally.

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      You are right Julie! I need to lighten up! One of my weaknesses is my depth. 😉 Haha! I tend to overanalyze stuff! I’m like a wet woolen blanket on everyone’s little flame of fun. I have to say, though, that I have had a bad reaction to Mother’s Day only in the past three or four years. I used to kind of enjoy it. So, just maybe, I’ll be able to enjoy it again. Thanks for your insight!

  10. Crystal says

    I almost could have written this post. :) I’ve always wanted to talk on Mother’s day at church and share a talk that would actually be helpful to mothers. So instead of sharing every way my mother is perfect, I’d inform them that she wasn’t and there’s still hope for me and talk about the atonement. Because really, why would you want to hear about how someone’s mother never yelled at them EVER, when you just spent an hour and a half yelling at your children to get ready for church?

    I must admit that there are parts of Mother’s day that I like though. I like the school project gifts that the kids are so excited about, and it can be entertaining to have the family cook dinner and hear, “Houston, we have a fire! Yes, that’s affirmative, we have a fire!”

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      I think we’re on the same page. I would love to hear a talk like that on Mother’s Day! And I’m glad I’m not the only one who has unspiritual Sunday mornings. 😉

      And, I totally agree about the gifts the kids make. It is fun to see them be excited like that. Thanks for your thoughts Crystal!

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