Why I Don’t Wait for My Kids to Call Me on Mother’s Day

One year when my kids were little, my son asked me to drive him to the store a day before Mother’s Day. He brought his velcro SpongeBob wallet and wanted to get me a gift. I was touched. 

We both loved Reese’s peanut butter cups, and I watched as he carefully counted out his money for the large orange bag of bite-sized chocolates while the cashier waited. I thought it would be the sweetest Mother’s Day gift and wondered how he’d wrap it. 

The next morning, I walked into the kitchen to find a tiny pyramid of six little Reese’s cups on the counter—three on the bottom, then two, then one. That was my gift—six pieces—the rest of the bag was for him. I appreciated the artistry but one thing was clear. If it was a contest between me and a bag of candy, I trailed a distant second.

Mother’s Day is just another day for me. (Photo credit: Courtenay Rudzinski)

My mom and I had special rituals

When my mom was alive, Mother’s Day was different. We’d treat ourselves to brunch at a nearby café, or she’d bake my favorite chocolate sheet cake. Sometimes she’d slip me money to get a massage and I’d hand-write her a card and tuck it into a soft new nightie. The sweet day spent together made both of us appreciate each other’s existence. 

As a mother of two boys, I had no blueprint. While my mother and I told each other everything, my sons shared no secrets and asked few questions. I’m still not sure they know when my birthday is. 

It was hard sometimes not to compare the difference between generations, but it made me treasure the close bond I had with my own mother even more. Boys and girls communicate differently. I didn’t expect embellishments from my kids on Mother’s Day, or a day in the spotlight. But once my kids were out of the house, that second Sunday of May had the potential to sting if I didn’t hear from them. 

Texting your son is like writing a guy who’s not interested in you

I loved (and kept) all the cards my kids made me in elementary school with their crooked handwriting and crayon drawings. When they were older, we’d all go out for a nice meal on Mother’s Day, or my husband would take them to buy flowers for me. That changed once they left for college. Absence did not make the heart grow fonder. It was more, out of sight out of mind. 

I’m not sure who first said on TikTok, “Texting your son is like writing to a guy who’s not interested in you,” but from the way it blew up I realized that many moms could relate. For every six texts I sent to either son at college, maybe I got a one-word response back two days later. If they wrote a sentence or more, I’d run in to share it with my husband, then re-read it, analyze it and search for clues into their lives and mood. 

Never one to sit around and wait for someone to call, I decided several years ago to take Mother’s Day into my own hands. I wouldn’t drop hints or prompts, or sit idly by checking my phone all day. I’d call my kids and let them know what day it was, and then we’d hopefully chat for a few minutes.

It started out as a preemptive strike in the great likelihood that they’d forget and erased the chance that I’d feel forgotten at the end of the day. 

Social media is a place of smoke and mirrors

It always blew my mind to see what other moms “woke up to” on Mother’s Day. A spread of artfully wrapped gifts, balloons, roses, Hallmark cards. On what planet do the kids stay up late wrapping, shop in advance, have access to curly ribbon and arrange everything in such a curated way? (Seems like a lovely place I’d like to visit.)

Social media is a place of smoke and mirrors, especially on holidays, so I tried it one year. We drove to the beach for the day, because I wanted a picture with my kids in front of the ocean at sunset. When photo time came, someone spilled ice cream all over me and it just got worse from there. However, we are all laughing in the picture, mainly because I was sticky and freezing. My kids thought it was hilarious. 

Nothing had gone according to plan. We had a great time but, in the photo, the ocean was of course nowhere in sight.

Mother’s Day is just another Sunday, and that’s fine by me

Now I prefer to stay home on Mother’s Day and spend the day exactly as I want. No more homework reminders or long waits at a restaurant. No more late nights at the kitchen sink or early alarms the next day to be sure everyone is up for school. No pleading to stop yelling through gaming devices so I can enjoy my book. All is quiet.  

I text or call my kids early in the day to give them plenty of time to respond. It works well and I do it every year if we’re not together. No one feels guilty or sad. It takes the onus off them to remember and gives the power of the day back to me. 

After all, it’s just another Sunday in May. I can buy my own flowers. And I don’t need a parade… but I might like a tiny pyramid of Reese’s.  

More Great Reading:

“We are not the sun around which they spin. Not anymore” Mia Freedman Explains Being the Parent of a Young Man, Perfectly.

About Courtenay Rudzinski

Courtenay Rudzinski is a freelance writer in Houston, where she lives with her husband and two rescue pups. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Wired, HuffPost and Business Insider. You can find her on Instagram.

Read more posts by Courtenay

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