The Secret To A Great Mother's Day: Asking For Exactly What You Want

A family therapist's eight-step process for getting exactly what you want — now and in the future.

Mother and child against a red textured background, smiling Rohappy / shutterstock  

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to be a mother. And you love being a mother — at least, most of the time. 

But being a mother is tough. Add on the challenges of being a working or single mother, or both, caring for a home, and perhaps trying to stay connected to a husband or a partner, all while you care for your children and your hands are full.

The push and pull of motherhood can result in feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis. 


How do you handle this? Start by trying harder while you beat yourself up for not doing a better job. 

But you are a mother. You are powerful by definition. That's part of the reason why you can should feel empowered to step up and make your Mother's Day what you want and what you need.

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Why you may not be looking forward to Mother’s Day

Is it any wonder that anticipating Mother’s Day can feel almost depressing? Like another chore? Another reminder that there’s more you have to do — this time to help those who care about you do something you like.

Admit these struggles to yourself. Most women block them out. After all, we’ve been raised to make sacrifices for our children and family. We’re told to be forever grateful for what we receive. To not make waves. To not ask for too much. 

We’re the eternal givers. Aren’t we? But maybe there’s more to you.

Use your power — and say exactly what you want!

How? It’s simple. In this video clip on TikTok, our wise mother says that to make our Mother’s Day great, we need to ask for exactly what we want. 




Did you just gulp? Listen again to what she says because you know she’s right.

Is this selfish? Not at all.

Giving yourself and your children a gift

As a mother who is also a psychologist asking for what you want is actually a gift for you and for your children.  

This is modeling self-care, an important skill to give your children, particularly now during what’s being deemed a national mental health crisis for our young.


Our children need to learn to care for themselves. Who better to teach them what self-care looks like than you?

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Here are eight steps to make Mother’s Day great for everyone

1. Become excited about being pushed out of your comfort zone

Asking for what you want is going to be hard. You’ve had a lifetime of being told, congratulated, and modeled to you by generations of women in your family that your role is to just take care of others.

As you shift this, you may stumble, even feel a little anxiety. Good — this means you’re trying.

Remember receiving what you want is going to feel wonderful.


2. Experiment with fantasizing about what you want

Fantasies are good, even for Mother’s Day.

The wise woman on TikTok shared that when her children were young, she fantasized about having four hours alone on Mother’s Day. 

I can relate. 

I remember when my twins were about four, I’d read them a book I loved about a mother hippopotamus wanting to take a bath for five minutes. This felt so luxurious. But they’d hit the book. They were tough and so loveable.

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3. Be creative and even indulgent

So, this won’t be easy, but you have an imagination, or else you couldn’t have encouraged your kids to use theirs. Remember the interesting cookies, Halloween costumes, artwork, stories, and maybe even their own TikTok posts you cheered them on to create.  


Now it’s your turn to experiment with your creativity directed toward your needs and wants.

What’s a common daydream on Mother’s Day? Relaxing. Having to do nothing for at least a little while.

Would you like:

A bubble bath? Sleeping in? Taking a long walk? Or, as our wise woman on TikTok shared, having your children’s father take them for a couple of glorious hours so you can relax?

4. Be willing to take a risk in asking 

Use your words! This is a skill that you not only encourage your toddler to do when they’re having a tantrum but also remind your sullen teenager to do.  Model this.

5. Respect yourself

Consider how empowering your sharing what you want on this day will be for your children — particularly if what you want breaks with convention.


We try to teach our children to respect themselves. The best way to do this is to model doing this ourselves. 

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6. Give your family the gift of your clarity

Kids and partners go through no small amount of stress trying to make this a good day for you. They feel pressure to make it somehow perfect while often flying in the dark because they may not know what it is you really want. 


You think they should be, but if you’re not clear, then this becomes a challenge, with a big downside — you feel disappointed and stressed on Mother’s Day. 

Your family’s default may be to listen to the advertisers and buy you a piece of jewelry you hate, flowers that die and make a mess, and food that’s too fattening. Or take you to a noisy amusement park that gives you a headache. 

Your clarity is a gift for everyone, you included. 

7. Push to make sure they make things happen

Even if you feel that this borders on being impolite, because it also includes considering what you’d like not to do, be honest and push for them to follow through. Remember this is a growth experience for you!

  • How about no dishes or laundry? Yes, you can give yourself permission for this.
  • Do you want to not shop and plan for your special meal, even if you won’t be the one cooking it?
  • Do you not want to travel to your mother-in-law, and or your mother’s home, making them happy but resulting in you feeling resentful?  
  • Hint … maybe your husband or partner could ask them to come to your home and bring the food?

8. Let them know that you would like this to be a tradition going forward 

You shouldn't have to push them to follow your instructions forever, but that is part of why you need to be clear even about that. Let them know that you would like to be consulted when they are planning Mother's Day from here out. Be willing to reciprocate for their birthdays and Father's Day, if that is relevant. 

Let them know that you are going to show them how to follow through with this process this year, but in the future, they should make it happen without you having to push. They will ask, and you will give an honest answer, and they will make it happen. 

If you want this to be a great Mother’s Day, then use this as a breakout moment. Share exactly what you want! Embrace your courage and self-care, a gift you can continue to build on for the rest of the year.

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Patricia O’Gorman, Ph.D., psychologist and life coach, is a best-selling author of nine books on trauma, resilience, women and self-parenting. Find her work on Substack.