The second Sunday each May can be a minefield of emotions for those of us who’ve lost our mothers, and for those of us who aren’t mothers.  For those of us who ARE mothers and grandmothers, this holiday can be filled with joy, or it can be a source of conflict every year.

If Mother’s Day is anything but joyful for you for whatever reason, I would like to ask you these questions:

Question #1:  Is the way you traditionally spend Mother’s Day okay with you?

Question #2:  In a perfect world, what would make you the happiest on Mother’s Day?

Question #3:  Have you communicated your expectations to your family?

Question #4:  Are you willing to be flexible?

You’re not the only one who’s ever felt angst when thinking about the hierarchy of this holiday.  Who comes first on Mother’s Day, you, your own mom, your grandmother, your stepmother, your mother-in-law, your surrogate, or your kid’s biological mother?  And if you’ve ever been pressured by a passive-aggressive family member to spend the holiday cooking, cleaning, and entertaining, you’re also not alone. 

What would it look like if you changed up Mother’s Day this year and started a new family tradition?  How about a take-out picnic, or a bowling tournament, or a cooking challenge?  You can get creative with a new approach.  Even if the idea ultimately bombs, just think about  the memories you’re creating, and how everyone will laugh in the years to come:  “Remember when we did our own ‘Chopped’ episode?  it took weeks to get all the crumbs out of every single kitchen drawer!” 

On the other hand, would it be so awful if you simply checked out for that one day?  You might go on a hike, get a massage, take a Yoga class, or have brunch with some non-mothers.  

If you’re a husband, a dad, or a son, what would it look like if you gave your wife or mom permission to change things up this year?  If you’re met with resistance because “we’ve always done it the same way,” ask the follow-up question:  “What’s the worst that could happen?”

People don’t have to get stuck in roles and traditions that aren’t joyful.  If you’re feeling stuck right about now, I’d like to remind you that the the sole responsibility for initiating a change belongs to you.  The change starts with a conversation, and that conversation starts with the word “I.”  So when you begin to talk about Mother’s Day, remember to express your own feelings first.  Communicate your expectations, translate your ideas with enthusiasm, and then temper them with your willingness to take baby steps.  Maybe the twist is for this year only, and maybe not.  Let’s just see how it goes.

And by the way, I’m aware that Dia de Los Muertos, as depicted in this photo, has nothing whatsoever to do with Mother’s Day.  I just had a moment imagining that the photo was of my mom, my sister and me.  It brought me joy.