Mother’s Day Disappointment | What Can Be Done to Prevent It?

Whether you are a new or seasoned mom, the possibility of experiencing Mother’s Day disappointment exists. 

The feeling comes as a surprise for many. They may not think the holiday is important only to feel crushed when they receive no Mother’s Day card.

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Mother’s Day Disappointment | What Can Be Done to Prevent It?

I had my first experience with Mother’s Day disappointment over 10 years ago… way before I was a mother myself. 

My husband and I were living in New York City at the time, young and carefree. I used to wake up early on weekends and that particular Sunday I spent the morning chatting with my mom and wished her a happy Mother’s Day. 

My husband woke up a couple of hours later and we quickly headed out for the day to find some random New York adventure, like trying all the dumplings in Chinatown. 

That evening, my husband got a very angry phone call from his dad. “How could you?” he yelled. “How could you not wish your mom a Happy Mother’s Day? No flowers, no card, NOTHING. Everyone has been calling her today, asking what her son did for her, and she had to embarrassingly tell them he forgot. I hope you are ashamed of yourself.”

In all the excitement of the day, he had completely forgotten about Mother’s Day, much less to call his mom. 

We felt terrible, but honestly it wasn’t until I became a mom myself to fully appreciate everything my own mother had done for me. 

So let’s talk about Mother’s Day disappointment. Is it a valid feeling? Can anything be done to prevent it?

Why Do We Feel Mother’s Day Disappointment?

Even though we all know Mother’s Day is one of those “made-up” commercial holidays designed to make money – the sentiment behind it is real. It still matters. 

More than looking for a “day off”, it’s a time when mothers expect to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. 

Some moms are looking for breakfast in bed or maybe some flowers. Others are simply wishing for a hug and words of affirmation.

No matter what mom is looking for, Mother’s Day disappointment occurs when the outcome of the day doesn’t match those expectations. It leads to mom feeling like she’s not appreciated. 

Those feelings of being let-down by big Mother’s Day expectations is OK. Those feelings are valid. 

Let’s talk about expectations for Mother’s Day, what to do if you experience Mother’s Day disappointment, and how to ensure the best Mother’s Day possible. 

Mom communicating her feelings of mother's day disappointment with her family

What to Do With Let Down Mother’s Day Expectations

While it’s easy to tell moms who are dealing with Mother’s Day disappointment to better communicate their expectations the following year, that doesn’t give them any way to handle their feelings at the present. 

Here are a few ideas for how to immediately handle feeling let down on Mother’s Day:

Have a Talk

Sit down with your partner, kids, or family and tell them how you are feeling after the holiday. 

In order for them to learn how to care for you, you need to be open and honest about your feelings.

An example of how the talk could go:

“Let me start by saying that I love you and I’m not mad at you. I’m just feeling a little sad today and I wanted to tell you why. 

Today (Mother’s Day) was a special day for me. I was hoping to feel super loved and extra appreciated. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like that. Instead, it just felt like a normal day. 

I know you said, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’, but those are just words. If you are showing someone you care for them, there are  a lot of ways to do it. You could have made a card, planned an activity, or even just told me something you love about me. 

I think it’s important we talk about this because in order for you to learn how to care for people, they need to first let you know how they want to be cared for. And I want you to grow up to be a person who shows others they are loved and appreciated.” 

You’re letting them know not to make them feel bad, but to give them an opportunity to make it right. This helps build empathy in your children. 

Schedule a Do-Over

Who needs Mother’s Day to feel appreciated? If the holiday let you down, schedule a chance at redemption – a “do-over” the following weekend. 

After conveying the purpose to your family, try some of the methods listed above (cooking breakfast, card making, words of affirmation, etc) to help them make this bonus Mother’s Day everything you want it to be! 

Sign and coffee for Mother's Day expectations

Communicating Your Mother’s Day Wish List

It’s important and necessary to teach your family how to love and appreciate others. Otherwise, how will they learn?

Don’t be afraid to let them know your feelings and expectations for the holiday, starting with… 

Explain Why the Holiday Is Important to You

Your family doesn’t know Mother’s Day is important to you unless you communicate that ahead of time. 

Explain that you love being a mom, even though it’s a lot of work. Seeing your family grow is a wonderful and rewarding feeling. That being said, it’s nice to feel appreciated every once in a while for everything that you do. 

Use their birthday as an example. How would they feel if they didn’t get cake, presents, or a party? Wouldn’t they feel sad? 

Planning activities on someone’s special day helps them feel how much we love them. 

Homemade Cards

The day before Mother’s Day, set out some construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, or whatever other craft supplies you have on hand. Tell your children you’d love for them to make you a card to show that they appreciate and care about you.

Mom and daughter spending time together

Tell Them What You Expect

The best way to avoid disappointment is to be clear and upfront about your needs and wants.

Set a reminder on your phone for two weeks before Mother’s Day. On that day, have a conversation with your family regarding your Mother’s Day expectations. 

Looking for breakfast in bed? Tell your family and ask if you need to add anything special to the grocery list. 

Want to go to the zoo? Go to the website and buy the tickets. 

Need a compliment? Let your family know and give them paper to write it down. 

Let them know how to make you feel loved, valued, and appreciated.

Find a Mommy Buddy

Enlist help. Recruit another mom to trade with each other’s kids to support them in success.

Trade children for the day and help another mom’s kids pick out flowers, make cards, and plan an activity. They can do the same for you. 

Mom and children going on a walk and looking at a lake

Set the Activity  

Your Mother’s Day, your choice – YOU set the activity. And tell your family your choice ahead of time. 

Say, “I’d like to go on a family walk with no one whining or complaining” or “let’s have an hour as a family where we all sit and read”. 

Looking for some more adventurous ideas? We’ve got your covered: 

READ  10 Unique Ideas for Mother’s Day Activities

Plan a Shopping Trip

Take your kids to the mall, Target, or the grocery store. Tell them to pick out a special surprise for mommy that makes them think of you. 

If your children are young, you’ll have to foot the bill. But it’s a cute way kids can learn the skill of gift giving to express their appreciation. 

Mom and son in a field picking tulips

Start a Tradition

Sometimes the stress of planning a unique Mother’s Day is too much for your family, so consider taking the guesswork out of it. 

Pick an activity that will become the new Mother’s Day tradition. Maybe you take a long walk and go flower picking as a family, or even something basic like go bowling and eat pizza. 

Model Behavior

It’s important to always model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Look for other opportunities for this throughout the year – Teacher’s Appreciation Week, Father’s Day, birthdays etc. 

Help your family plan out how they will show their appreciation to the special person. Living by example goes a long way.

Mom and child blowing bubbles

Wrapping Up Mother’s Day Disappointment

Mama, know that your feelings are valid. 

It can be a crushing feeling to expect something for a special occasion, only to feel nothing at the end of it. 

We hope you can take these tips to help you confront  your feelings of Mother’s Day disappointment and prevent it next year.

Mother’s Day Disappointment | What Can Be Done to Prevent It?

About Author


Hi, I’m Jo!

I have two small children, Ry and Lily, only 19 months apart. It’s usually crazy around my house, but thankfully my wonderful husband is around a ton and helps keep the peace.

I also own my own business and work full-time. I’d love to list all these amazing hobbies I have, but honestly I can barely handle keeping the kids entertained, the house clean, and food on the table. Although on days I’m too tired to do housework, I love to pour a glass of wine and watch Supernatural or Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix.

My husband and I like to stay very busy and drag our kids everywhere with us. Weekends often include relaxing at wineries, festivals, exploring Washington D.C. and other short getaway trips.

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