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How was your Mother's Day? Great? Just okay? Disappointing? Ridiculous? I've had all of these in various years. Carla Foote helps us all look at our expectations for such holidays and embrace the opportunities God gives us all for "do-overs."


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By Carla Foote

In the midst of too many flowery accolades and boxed chocolates, here's the real deal about Mother's Day. Sometimes it is just a terrible day. There are many reasons it can be terrible: the unfulfilled longing to be a mother, remembering the death of your own mother or child, or just waking up to the reality that actually being a mother isn't always so wonderful.

If you asked anyone in my family to describe our own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Mother's Day, they would know exactly which one you were asking about. Because even after more than 15 years, it still tops the chart as the worst ever.

The day started out so well. I had even been proactive about deciding how to spend Mother's Day. Rather than leaving things to chance, I told my husband and two elementary-aged children what we were going to do. Simple. After church we would build a planter box next to the driveway and then plant the tree that I had already purchased in said planter box. Then we’d all have a picnic in the park. Lovely.

Except that the planter box didn't go in without a major struggle. OK, more than a major struggle, an epic struggle with several broken tools and trips to the hardware store. As the sun dipped down to the horizon, we shoved the tree in the ground (where it crookedly grew for many years) and had a few sandwiches before bed. Yuck.

At that point we made a crucial decision - one which has become hallmark of our family since then. Rather than wallowing in hurt feelings over the day - of which there were quite a few to wallow in - we decided we needed a do-over. We decided that actually, Mother's Day would be celebrated in our family the following week that year.

The ability to laugh about that crazy day and to schedule a do-over has proved helpful throughout the years. It has given us the ability to schedule our celebrations and decide what works for us, not what popular culture says we should do. Birthday falls on the day of the big swim meet? Let's celebrate a different day. Father's Day hits when the kids are at camp? We can decide when to schedule a celebration. Big anniversary during a summer when a big trip isn't possible? It’s just as easy to have a small remembrance and then celebrate 31 years in a big way. Because the reality of what we celebrate is the love, relationship and shared experience, not the ability to have perfect holidays. And shared laughter is an important part of our family culture as well.

That Mother's Day tree planted long ago died last winter. My son and daughter-in-law happened to be in town for Mother's Day this year. So my husband jokingly sent a picture of the dead tree a month before their visit and said, "Hey, we can plant a tree for Mother's Day this year, the old tree died."

To which my son laughingly replied, "How about we just read The Giving Tree together?"

  • How do you recover from a plan that goes awry?

  • Are there areas where you need a do-over?

  • Beyond anger and disappointment - how do you incorporate humor and grace in your life?

Carla Foote enjoys being mom to adult children, whether they happen to make it home for Mother's Day or not. She also still misses her own mom nearly 20 years after her death. She is the Really blog manager and also writes and edits for a variety of clients through

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