05/09/2013 08:24 am ET Updated Jul 09, 2013

Setting The Ground Rules For A Marvelous Mother's Day


Unless you're the mom of a baby or toddler no doubt you've experienced at least one disappointing if not downright miserable Mother's Day. Mine was the year my middle son (who was immersed in finals at his college) "forgot" to call. I spent the whole day bemoaning this neglect, even though my other two sons treated me royally. My expectation, however, was that all of my children should remember and honor me on this special day.

There's no greater gift than being a mom, and if you've raised your kids with love and compassion, no doubt they will honor you every day of their lives. That said, sometimes they need a little extra help, so if you want to make your Mother's Day really shine, open your throat chakra and let the kids know what you have in mind. It could be as simple as "no quarrelling with your sister today" or "an iced tea with a sprig of fresh mint." But whatever it is, don't be shy about asking (keep it reasonable, however; they're probably not going to spring for a cruise).

In the past few years I've taken Mother's Day into my own hands to avoid disappointment by setting the ground rules early. If you have little ones who (thanks to their preschool teacher) will bring you a potted plant or a homemade card, then good for you. But if you have adult children (as I do) who may be stressed out from work, college, or raising their own families, then you may have to do a little extra prep. For instance, about a week before Mother's Day, I always nudge, "Don't forget -- I will not be cooking on Sunday! In fact, I am expecting a really nice lunch out or breakfast in bed."

Now, maybe you don't think you should have to ask for stuff. But believe me, it's much better than sitting around stewing or thinking that you're not appreciated. Chances are, you are appreciated, but sometimes kids just don't know what to do or what to give you. (You can also enlist your mate in your quest to get the kids on board, but if he's the type that forgets your anniversary, don't get your hopes up; better to take matters into your own hands.)

Presents don't have to be elaborate, you can remind. A coupon for yard work, a framed family photo or a picture your child draws, a pair of earrings. One year my son asked for cash to buy me a begonia. No problem... it's the thought that counts (he was only seven at the time so I gave him a pass). Or, if you're a gamblin' mom, you can simply say "Surprise me!"

This year, I've informed my family that I'm attending a concert on Mother's Day evening. Therefore, they can either come along or take me out to lunch that day or the day before (my spouse and I discovered this year that going out the night before Valentine's Day was a heck of a lot cheaper, and the restaurant decorations were already up!). Mother's Day should be about Mom; the rest of the year, we may put our kids first, but on this special day I see no reason why we can't just say what we want -- and get it -- even if what we really want is simply to be left alone to take bubble baths and naps.

By the way, a week after that fateful Mother's Day, my son finally realized that he'd slipped up, and felt pretty badly. I could have saved him those feelings of remorse if I'd let go of my disappointment and given him a call. (On the other hand, I don't think he'll be forgetting Mother's Day again anytime soon.)

And neither will I! I'm looking forward to my day of iced cappuccinos, flowers, music and relaxation. A few hugs will be welcome, too. After nearly three decades of hard work and devotion as a mom, I'm not hesitant to set my ground rules any more. I deserve it. (And if you're a mom, so do you!)

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

What This Boomer Doesn't Want For Mother's Day