…..Dilemma or Delight?

May 9th is Mother’s Day this year, so timely suggestions as we try to help parents age well make sense. Yet thinking about how to celebrate the day with older mothers can prove challenging; or perhaps not.

Proximity of mothers and mothers-in-law is a factor.
When both live within driving distance–One of my senior advisers, M, says she lives more than an hour away from her son’s wife’s mother. “Standing on their heads like a contortionist to be with both of us on Mother’s Day doesn’t make sense,” she says. She suggests alternating years when adult children in this situation take their mothers out on Mother’s Day. “A nice card and plans for another time we can be together (even the Saturday before) is fine.” But in her case, she says, “they shouldn’t worry about it.”

D remembers well that she didn’t have the dilemma, but her brother did. Both his mother and his wife’s mother wanted their adult children with them on Mother’s Day. While the mothers were within driving distance–they lacked a cozy relationship…didn’t want to be together. So D’s brother and wife had to make two long drives together in order to see both mothers.There really was no other choice, I’m told. Needless to say, D’s brother and his wife were weary by the time they saw his mother. Never-the-less, each mother got her wish. Children often sacrifice for the sake of a parent!

Then, of course, mothers often have more than one child. So if each child celebrates on a different day, the mother gets double rewards. In fact, D suggests Saturday can be preferable because places aren’t as crowded and staff can pay more attention to making the outing special.

Adult children with siblings who live near mothers can work out plans that benefit everyone if people are flexible. Indeed, D even suggests–perhaps in jest–“Mother’s Weekend” instead of “Mother’s Day.” And thinking about today’s blended and extended families, there may be some wisdom in this idea.

My husband and I are far-away living children, so the preceding never affected us. I have a sibling (who lived near my parents); my husband has none. Up until last year R, my mother-in law (now 96), flew East to spend Mother’s Day with us. It coincided, more or less, with the Spring Flower Show at our local Woman’s Club, which has a membership tending towards “older” women–primarily 55+, with a fair number in their 80’s and 90’s, so R and some of the women enjoyed a commonality.

We sent R a ticket, she stayed with us, and the flower show was a highlight–along with our being together for a week. We had a solution for the proximity problem and gift dilemma–which lasted over three decades.


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