Mother’s Day is one of the hardest days for many women. It taps into the deepest pain and most emotional disappointments, but I have an idea that I think could rock your world.

Have you ever cried, gotten upset, pouted, or been envious of the gifts others have gotten on Mother’s Day? Raise your hand if that’s affirmative. Go ahead.. join me…

raising hand

Look-a-there. You’re not alone. (Please tell me that ^^ made you chuckle. You should have seen me trying to take that selfie.)

Mother’s Day can be emotional. It’s sad. It brings out the deepest of pain.

  • Some desperately want a child yet month after month are unable
  • Some have been told they are unable to have a child biologically
  • Some have experienced failed attempts at adoption
  • Some are dealing with sadness at losing their moms at a young age
  • Some have wayward children and long for restored relationships
  • Some are mourning over the loss of their child

Each year, my heart aches and I pray fervently for those in these situations.

On Mother’s Day, during the church service, I have trouble enjoying the beautiful tributes to motherhood as my mind is filled with names and faces of those who must be finding this emotional tribute to be especially painful.

And then there are those who ARE mothers...

who find Mother’s Day to be one of the most unfulfilling, disappointing days.


I’ve heard friends tell many stories regarding their Mother’s Day:

  • I cooked. I cleaned.
  • I got a coffee maker, and I don’t drink coffee.
  • I spelled out what I wanted and didn’t get it.
  • I wanted to go out to eat and we stayed home.
  • My grown kids didn’t even call.
  • I was at least hoping for a card in the mail.
  • Flowers would have been nice.
  • My friends’ kids posted something on Facebook about their moms. Mine didn’t.

Expectations unfulfilled.

Dreams of a lovely day shattered.

but wait…

I’d like to share this ONE idea that has made each Mother’s Day a day free of disappointment.

I write a letter to each of my children.


I personalize each . . . as if I’m talking right to them… listing specific attributes that I love about them.


I may include a precious moment we shared, or an example or two that brought joy to my heart.

I may include a verse…or not.

I may include a quote…or not.

I include a character quality or two or five…or ten… that I observe in them.

I may include a blessing or a prayer… or not.

It may be in the form of a folded note card, or a handcrafted card, or notebook paper. It matters not.

My focus is on expressing to them my gratefulness in being their mother.


Rather than expecting them to give in gifts, words, and deeds to make me feel honored and loved…

I tell them how proud I am of them and how very loved they are.


So, if you’ve found yourself disappointed in what your kids did, gave, or said (or didn’t say) to you on previous Mother’s Days, why not let go of all expectations of what they will do for you.

And, instead… YOU express to them what an honor it is that you are their mother… and why.

And… even if your kids (and spouse) do an AMAZING job of honoring you and showering you with just the right gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time, you may want to add this tradition to your Mother’s Day.

You’ll find this to be a highlight of your Mother’s Day… telling them why you are honored and blessed to be their mother.

As far as implementing this goes, it’s varied over the years.

Some years I’ve put the cards under their plates at lunch. Other years I’ve actually opened each and read them to that child in front of the whole family while still sitting at the table together. Some years our Mother’s Day has included extended family, so I’ve read them the night before during dinner or while hanging out in the den when it’s been a time for just our immediate family.

If you have kids out of town, you could still send them a letter… or read your words into a video and text it to them.

Here’s one I recorded last year for my daughter Alexis who lives out of state now.  #mamadontlike

It’s about focusing on giving rather than receiving. It’s about releasing expectations. It’s about stopping and realizing the beautiful blessings right in front of us.

Please note… I still think it’s lovely for the kids to speak into the life of their mother and honor her in meaningful ways. And, they most certainly should be taught to be thoughtful, honor others, to observe interests in others, and to be givers.

Truly, the joy is in BEING their mother.  (Well, most of the time. shhhhh.)

Here's my family . (L-R) Daniel's fianćee Gabi, Daniel, Laura, Rhonda, John II, Alexis, Kelsey, John III, Heather

Here’s my family. Jan.2016. (L-R) Daniel’s now-wife Gabi, Daniel, Laura, Rhonda, John II, Alexis, Kelsey, John III, Heather.


And for those whose pain stems from NOT being a mother, I’m praying for you as I type this. Your hurt is real. It is raw. Yet, God’s plan and timing are worthy to be trusted. He is at work, refining your heart, making you beautiful. (Just as he is doing with the disgruntled mother). This is an opportunity for you to dig in and trust and intentionally turn your focus outward on other’s celebration rather than inward-focus on your pain.

You can come alongside mothers:

  • Write a letter to a mom, spelling out specific traits you admire in her mothering.
  • Write a card to a friend’s child or children as a way to honor their mother. “You’re blessed to have a mother like you do. I see … in her and she loves you so much…” Your words may be used to mend hearts, build a mother/child relationship, or open eyes to positive traits unseen.
  • Write a letter to your mother.
  • Gather together your friends’ kids and help them make cards, a handmade gift, or take them on a shopping trip to assist them in honoring their mother.
  • Write to an expectant mother, telling her how excited you are that she’ll be a mom soon. This, to me, is beautiful, as you are pushing through your own pain and ministering in the very area you hurt most.
  • Ask the Lord who to turn your focus outward to as Mother’s Day approaches. And for his creativity. Then just do it.
  • Trust God. He is at work deep in your heart and loves you deeply.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rhonda happymothersday ellis

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  1. Just wanted to let you know this post was a blessing to me. Thank you for sharing it and for inspiring mothers everywhere to continue to pour themselves out into the lives of their children. <3

    • Jenn, thank you for your encouragement today. I’m so grateful when God uses us to share ideas that have impact for Him. To God be the glory!

  2. MaryC

    Thank you-I just had one of those Mother’s Days and I felt so bad for being disappointed. I love you idea-just what I needed to read.

    • Mary, I have had those Mother’s Days as well. It is SOOOO freeing when I finally released ALL expectations. One year I wrote the cards and then told them how I was the one thinking of them and not them me. Pity Party of One. LOL. I know you’ll love it next year when you get your mind all geared up for blessing them. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Jennifer Holland

    This is so perfect for me!!! I will use this for Emma and Manning next year!!! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom!!

    • Rhonda

      Jennifer, you are such a wonderful mother. And now, a year later… you have three to cherish this Mother’s Day

  4. Cheryl

    I dread Mother’s Day and have for the past few years. I purposely sign out of FB so I don’t have to see all the other wonderful comments the other moms get from their kids. I have always found you to be so insightful in the 20+ years I have known youl. Thanks for this article! It was definitely needed.

    • Hello to my beautiful friend! Thank you for your sweet words and for your transparency. Your thoughts are shared by so many, yet isn’t it such a blessing to be able to turn our hearts to gratitude and giving rather than expectations. Not an easy thing, for me at least, but I’m a work in progress. 🙂

  5. Jeanne

    Oh Rhonda – this is wonderful. I love every word. Thank you!

    • Rhonda

      Love you, Jeanne!

  6. Rhonda Key

    Rhonda, thanks so much for sharing this….this will be my 2nd Mother’s Day without my mom and I’m struggling once again already thinking about this day…my kids are great and my husband with them always manage to honor me on that day…but that day was for my MOM and without her, my heart is truly missing a big part! I love the idea of writing a letter to my kids, I plan on adding this tradition. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Rhonda, I know memories of your mother will be all around you every year, especially at Mother’s Day when your heart longs to talk with and be with her. Praying for you and others as it approaches. Thanks for taking the time to write. And, I’m glad you’ll be doing this letter-writing for your sweet children.

  7. Awesome idea!! Thank you so much for sharing, Rhonda!!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Lisa, thank you for sharing the post with your friends. Sure am thankful for you.

  8. Robin

    Wonderful, brilliant, and absolutely perfect~

  9. Tracey Cavender

    Rhonda, Thank you for this! You inspired me to do something I have been contemplating for years. And the reaction was wonderful! Both of my boys loved getting “a present” for Mother’s Day. The best response was from my oldest son Shaun, who you may remember is my prodigal. I wasn’t even sure he would read it much less give it any real attention. His wife relayed to me how excited he was and how much he loved the letter. What a blessing! My best Mother’s Day so far! I plan to continue this tradition each year. Bob is contemplating writing a letter to the boys on Father’s Day as well. Thank you my friend for allowing the Lord to continue to use you so faithfully!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Tracey, I love that idea- for Fathers to write a letter!! Thanks for sharing. I also LOVE how both of your boys enjoyed your specific words of affirmation to them. 🙂

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