Life Advice



Ask Amy: The trouble with Mother’s (and Father’s) Day

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I've come to increasingly view Mother's Day with sadness.

Another of these days has come and gone, and my husband staunchly believes that he need not even do so much as say, "Happy Mother's Day" to me.

He also doesn't remind our kids to acknowledge me, so for many years they have said nothing to me.

It's not that he forgets. We typically devote the day to visiting our own mothers. But when it comes to me, when I have asked him about his lack of acknowledgment, he shrugs and says, "You're not my mother."

Our friends have pointed out, "She's the mother of your children!" but he just brushes that off.

I'm not after candy or flowers, but just hearing some words from him like, "Thanks for being such a great mom to our kids" would send my heart soaring. But it never happens.

Even his mother usually sends me a card and gift, so she doesn't subscribe to his philosophy.

Am I being self-centered? Should I just focus on my mother and mother-in-law on Mother's Day, and quit moaning?

– Sad Mom

Dear Sad: Mother’s Day is intended as a day of appreciation and celebration, but also seems to sow a lot of sadness and confusion.

Surely, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are the most awkward days of the year.

The very structure of these days is confounding, leading to lots of questions:

If we’re parents, are we only supposed to celebrate our own parents? What about grandparents?

What is expected of stepchildren who have multiple parents?

Is it OK to spend Mother’s Day crying in your car, as you grieve the loss of a child – or your own mother?

Are women who aren’t parents supposed to correct store clerks who wish them a “Happy Mother’s Day,” or should they just accept their carnation quietly and endeavor to avoid all human and online contact on that day?

Are boorish partners who can’t be bothered to utter a three-word phrase really supposed to get a pass by hiding behind this whole, “You’re not my mother” nonsense?

If children don’t contact parents on this day, how bad are parents permitted to feel, and if you do feel bad, should you diminish your own feelings as being embarrassing, unimportant, and “self-centered?”

In my view, your husband is a lost cause in this regard. He is willfully handing you something he knows you’ll feel bad about. Nice.


You should prompt your children: “Hey, heads up. You might think it’s lame or unimportant, but a text or a call on Mother’s Day would make me very happy.”

Dear Amy: As retirees who eat out regularly, my wife and I always leave a cash tip between 20 percent and 25 percent for good service.

However, if we order something that we simply can’t eat or truly don’t enjoy (e.g., tough meat, too spicy, over-salted, etc.), we send it back and ask for something else.

Even though the returned meal is taken off the bill, we always make it a point to include the price of it as part of the overall gratuity.

To my amazement, several family members are appalled that we would ever return a meal, and feel that we should stay quiet and simply pay for whatever we order, even if it is nearly inedible or tastes terrible.

Overall, they argue that it’s unfair to the restaurant and kitchen staff if something is returned and taken off the bill.

In any event, as this has become a subject of disagreement among several of us, I’d be interested for your input on this matter.

– Resisting at Restaurants

Dear Resisting: This is a matter of degree. If the food was improperly prepared or contains ingredients you can’t safely eat, then you should send it back. It sounds as if this is what you do. Restaurants want their patrons to enjoy their food. It’s good for business.

But if you order chicken parmesan and upon receiving it decide, “Hmm, I just remembered. I don’t really like chicken parm. I’m in the mood for a steak,” then you don’t have a drumstick to stand on.

Dear Amy: I am seeing people continue to use the outdated term “giving up” a child for adoption.

We adopted our daughter over 30 years ago, and already at that time, the process was encouraged to be called “placing” a child for adoption, not “giving up.”

Can you please bring this to the public’s attention in your column?

– D

Dear D: Gladly. Thank you.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



Rugrats Andy Marlette Baby Blues Bob Englehart Daddy Daze Crankshaft