Jenna Bush Hager: have low expectations for Mother’s Day

Happy belated Mother’s Day to anyone who celebrates it. I know it can be a rough day for some and I’m sorry if you fall into that category. Fortunately, it’s over now and we don’t have to talk about it for another year. Well, after today we don’t need to talk about it for another year. Jenna Bush Hager was talking to Hoda Kotb on the fourth hour of TODAY. Jenna said she had a lovely Mom’s Day this year, mostly because she got to go home, which sounds kind of funny, but I get it. It also sounded lowkey but nice, with flowers from the kids and her husband Henry Hager getting Jenna her favorite Mexican food. Jenna said that overall, she was pleased but that was because her bar is pretty low. Her logic is that because moms never know how Mother’s Day is going to go, it’s best to lower our expectations.

Jenna Bush Hager spent a special Mother’s Day with her three kids.

The TODAY with Hoda and Jenna co-host, 41, celebrated the holiday with husband Henry Hager and their three kids — son Hal, 3, and daughters Poppy Louise, 7, and Margaret “Mila” Laura, 10, as she explained on-air Monday.

Chatting about the holiday with co-host Hoda Kotb, the mom of two remarked, “You never know how Mother’s Day is going to go.”

Bush Hager agreed, adding, “You have to have low expectations, so you have low expectations and then you’re just grateful you get to enjoy it.”

For the special day, the family of five traveled home, which Bush Hager said was “really fun.”

“The kids cut me some flowers, which I thought was really sweet,” she shared. “Henry got me some Mexican food for dinner, which I love. And then Henry was like, ‘Who wants to say a toast for mommy?'”

The mom of three got varying levels of enthusiasm from her kids about the prospect.

[From People]

I love the part where Henry asked who wanted to say nice things about their mom and Jenna’s kids were like, “I’m good.” That’s such a kid response. Apparently, Poppy came through with a prayer to make up for the lack of response. That’s pretty solid thinking on her feet.

The part that’s getting to me is where moms have to lower their expectations because their families can’t be expected to celebrate them properly. Let me start by saying that I’m sure this is not a universal truth. There are plenty of stories of how families came through for their mom. Some moms only want a good book and to be left alone for ‘their’ day. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the fact that this comment would never be made about Father’s Day. The whole point of Mothers Day is to make up for all the crap Mom puts up with the rest of the year. Asking her to be the one to make the necessary adjustment to not be disappointed defeats the purpose, does it not? Sure, if a mother has really high expectations, it would behoove her to express that to her family. But most moms are just ‘expecting’ for a little forethought and genuine intent behind the affirmations distributed, be they verbal or physical. How low are we expected to go, sheesh.

Photo credit: Instagram and Cover Images

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42 Responses to “Jenna Bush Hager: have low expectations for Mother’s Day”

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  1. Mcmmom says:

    My daughter came through for me and I got a beautiful card and lots of quality time, which I appreciated. My college aged son dropped the ball so badly that I talked with him on Monday about how he needs to learn how to show appreciation for those he loves because someday he’s going to be in a relationship with someone who does NOT love him unconditionally (like I do) and she’s not going to be ok with this. I have pretty low expectations, but I was still annoyed.

    • North of Boston says:

      Great you followed up with him on it

      What do you think the difference was between them, that caused one to get it and the other to not? A age and stage thing with Son?

      • Mcmmom says:

        Poor executive functioning skills for my son and he had a lot going on and didn’t plan well. He apologized and said, “there’s nothing I can do about it now,” so I walked him through how he needs to make up for it on his way home from college. His EQ isn’t great, so I am having to walk him through it. My daughter is much better at social interaction.

  2. Ex-DouchesOfCambridge says:

    I don’t expect anything, but my family does just highlight it simply by having dinner together. My teen daughter got a bouquet , a card and chocolates for me for the 1st time, that was very thoughtful. I start in march and plant seeds so I can offer my veggies seedlings to my mom, sisters and mother-in-law for mother’s day.

  3. Lady Baden-Baden says:

    I’m one of those weirdos that prefers to left alone for mother’s day. I’m on-call for my 3 kids the rest of the year, so a bit of peace with a book or an afternoon alone at the cinema sounds like heaven to me.

    • ama1977 says:

      This, this, this. My husband knows what I want every year (really, for every occasion.) “Peace and quiet.”

      Mine are older (10 and 15) so they are really pretty easy (I say, knowing full well that the physical part of mothering has gotten so much easier while the emotional aspects have gotten so much harder as they make their ways in the world amongst disappointments, people who might hurt them, crushes, friendships changing, and all of the other challenges that I can’t protect them from) and all I want is not to go out (never, EVER on a holiday!) and not to cook dinner. My husband is amazing year-round, so Mother’s Day/Valentine’s Day don’t resonate with me.

      All that said, he picked up breakfast, sent me beautiful flowers, and got me a digital frame for my office that I loaded with over 750 pics and watched all day yesterday instead of working. 😂 My youngest is crafty and made me a beautiful, sweet collage showing all the reasons they love me. And my oldest gave me a long, gangly teen boy hug and a kiss and told me, “I love you so much. You are just the best Mom.” So what more do you need??

      I do feel bad for all of the women I see who put SO much stock into this one day, because they don’t feel supported/appreciated/seen all or most of the time, so Mother’s Day takes on this mythic level of importance. I wish that every woman felt important, seen, and appreciated on a daily basis because we are all remarkable and absolutely deserve to know it.

  4. bisynaptic says:

    Jenna is the nepo baby of a war criminal, who, decades before Trump, rigged/ staged a coup after the Presidential election to make himself POTUS.

    • Msmlnp says:

      Well/ that’s clearly her fault and she deserves to never have a good day the rest of her life. *eyeroll*

    • Alice says:

      To be fair, her war criminal father was also the nepo baby of a war criminal. They are a classy lot! My favorite memory is when her grandmother (wife/mother of war criminals) said that things were working out “very nicely” for Katrina refugees.

      • Kristin says:

        Again, what does this have to do with her? I’ve not ever really heard anything terrible about her or her sister, and I don’t think we should demonize people for who their fathers are.

      • Mustang Sally says:

        So Alice is suggesting that she has a crappy Mother’s Day due to doings of her family over which Jenna had absolutely no say or control? Gee, that makes sense.

      • bisynaptic says:

        Yes! And the pearl choker made it all go down, more easily.
        —Good times…

  5. Southern Fried says:

    When kids are little they come up with the most fun things, drawings, poems, craft projects, sing a song, suspicious looking breakfast in bed.

    • Christine says:

      I got a homemade card and my 13 year old son made my favorite (and only sweet I love, I’m more of a savory person) cheesecake, with help from his Grandma. It was perfection.

      I started sowing the seeds of anti-breakfast in bed early. I can’t think of many things I would like less than eating a suspicious breakfast in my bed. How did breakfast in bed even become a thing in the first place? The crumbs of it all!!

    • Guest says:

      This! My husband asked my 3 year old what he loved most about mommy and he said “her heart” and I burst into tears. He also made me soap at school and was SO proud to give it to me.

  6. Savu says:

    Exactly, we shouldn’t have to lower our expectations! However I just celebrated my first Mother’s Day, my son is six months old. He’s teething and we had a pretty terrible day. My MIL took the cake though – we went to their house for dinner, and she made a main dish I couldn’t eat, and asked me about the abusive biological mother I no longer speak to. We can’t control the kind of day our baby has, but damn, I was so annoyed at her.

  7. Lens says:

    It’s hardest on single moms (actually like Hoda) because dad is expected to cover it before they start preschool and can give you those hilarious and cute cards, and homemade gifts that the teachers spent their money on to make your day special (I know I was one of those teachers who made sure they got a nice gift because our moms were often single). Guys that don’t know that can made a new mom so unhappy. They need to be reminded right at the start of pregnancy because they just don’t think.

    • Christine says:

      You aren’t wrong! I got a little weepy when my son moved on from elementary, his teachers made sure to do something really special, and I got doubly celebrated, because they also made sure he celebrated me (and his Grandma) on Father’s Day. I love great teachers so much!

  8. bitsycs says:

    I don’t think I’d say have low expectations, I’d more so say don’t get caught up in the hype and comparing. Especially when you have young kids, you have no idea if one of them will be sick or just wretched that day, lol. I’d say the same to dads, but there seems to be less hype about Father’s Day. I’d also say, be clear about what you want.

    This year my daughter had a day full of competitive dance scheduled for Mother’s Day and my sister in law asked if we wanted to go eat at a restaurant I hated (I guess to celebrate my mother in law but that wasn’t explicit – and in my family, we celebrate all mothers not just one). I was like “nope I hate that restaurant, we won’t be there.” And my other sister in law declined as well because she doesn’t like to go out on Mother’s Day (too crowded, etc).

    I think an outside observer might say my Mother’s Day was kind of a low bar (long day of dance, pizza for dinner), but I chose pizza from my favorite place we don’t always get pizza from because it’s a hassle and said no to a celebration I didn’t want to attend, lol. Perfect day for my introverted self.

  9. TwinFalls says:

    I sent a meme to my mom friends for Mother’s Day that said “Mom, I just wanted to let you know you forgot to remind me that Mother’s Day is this Sunday”

  10. Shawna says:

    Hecate, I really appreciate your pushback against this lowering of expectations. I will admit, though, that in practice, I’ve had to adopt Jenna’s attitude. My own mom and MIL want all the attention on themselves, so I do all the planning, shopping, wrapping, and cleaning, and it’s another busy day of piloting holidays. It’s really their only flaw (main character syndrome on holidays and during emergencies), so I put up with it. DH at least does all the cooking, and the teachers at preschool had my son make me some art, so that was nice!

    • ama1977 says:

      That’s BS. Mother’s Day is for the active mothers IMO. When your kids have their own kids, you take a backseat to the moms with kids still at home. I am fully prepared to celebrate the active duty (lol) moms if/when either of my kids have their own kids. You should put your feet up and relax if that’s what makes you happy, and let your husband run interference.

  11. DeltaJuliet says:

    I have had many disappointing Valentine’s Days, birthdays and Mothers Days over the years. I have lowered my expectations and i truly am happier. It’s kind of shitty but my mental health is much better. Not everyone has people who spoil them in their lives and that’s just how it is.

  12. Isa says:

    Women having to lower their expectations makes me really angry. I lurk on mommy boards and there’s SO many posts by women who have been let down. These women that work hard to give their families everything and do most of the household management and emotional labor and so many men just won’t. And the women tell their partners what they want and still, nothing. You literally have the internet at your disposal with a million ideas to plan something, etsy which can make you personalized anything, Pinterest where so many women go to pin exactly what they can, breakfast in bed, keep the kids entertained, it is not that hard and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

    • QuiteContrary says:

      I agree @Isa.
      I used to remind my kids that while I’m always there for them and would do whatever I could to help them in any way possible, I am a real human person with feelings, too.

      Frankly I had to kind of teach my husband how to celebrate holidays—his mum let her family (husband, sons) take her for granted. While my Dad treated my Mom like the amazing and special person she was.

  13. QuiteContrary says:

    It used to bug me that kids sports and dance events continued on Mother’s Day — I felt too guilty to miss them so that meant the usual prep etc. We’ve passed that stage now.

    Coaches and dance instructors: Give moms the day off next year.

  14. Myeh says:

    I saw picnics at a local park where families were there for mother’s day. There were bouquets of flowers, eye rolling happy valued moms. I also saw a dad and three of his kids buying flowers for mother’s day. A friend got a balloon from her daughter. Then I decided to acknowledge the women in my life who are pet mom’s, step mom’s, elder siblings who took on mom duties, mentors, and anyone who I’ve watched act just like a loving and caring mom. Wishing them over text, a call, in person cheered them up and I’m glad I made them happy. It made me feel good too. I even wished a dad who is a single parent. I always see him struggle and make sure I wish him on mother’s and father’s day.

  15. Jack says:

    Single mom here. I keep thinking that as mine gets older, I’ll actually get something for mother’s day, birthday, Christmas. She has a new job so is making her own money and is 19. She keeps talking about all of the things she wants to buy me, but then doesn’t get anything because she doesn’t want to spend her money. My birthday and Christmas (with nothing under the tree unless I buy it myself) hurt more than mother’s day.

    She did get me a card this year. Then asked how many birthday presents I bought her (her birthday is later this week.) I told her more presents than she bought me. My brother is just like her and he is a grown adult.

    • Kristin says:

      Well that sucks:(. I’m really sorry and that must hurt so much! Kids can be so inconsiderate in thinking a mom’s focus should be solely on them and then in turn forgetting that mom needs some cherishing too!

  16. Silent Star says:

    I don’t even like a big fuss to be made. But I do hope that some thought is put into it so that it doesn’t feel like my family considers it a “chore” to have to do something nice for me.
    I give them some slack because they all have ADHD and struggle with planning. But admittedly I do always hope that “maybe this year” I will be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately I have to be ok with low expectations or it will just be sad day. But it really would be nice to have others put my needs first just one day a year.

  17. B says:

    Well of course some dads aren’t going to acknowledge how much crap the moms unilaterally or disproportionately deal with over the year.
    If they acknowledged it then they would be that much closer to being asked to change their behavior.
    Those are the small squeaking penis men right there…

  18. one of the marys says:

    @jack Your comment really resonated with me. I have learned that I have to teach/train/coach my husband and daughter about many ‘basics’ of relationships be they family, in laws, neighbours, hosts etc. There’s give and take, reciprocity, etiquette, consideration, generosity I’ve had to spell out in detail. It’s all toward enriching our lives and having value in relationships for us and for my daughter going forward. But I also believe that people need to be aware of or informed of the consequences of their actions/ inactions. I’ve also spelled those out at times or used situations as examples. Your daughter is old enough to be informed about consideration and reciprocity in relationships. It may not change anything on her end but I don’t think she should blithely go forward with no ownership of hurting you. This is a bit of a bee in my bonnet because I’ve had too many examples of family tolerating poor behaviour and I now address it sooner rather than later.

  19. Ana says:

    Oh man, I know it’s just a day and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But I still think about my first mother’s day with a twinge of sadness. I’m a single mother, had both of my kids through a donor. My first mother’s day 6ish years ago, my brother and I took my mother out to lunch, and I got her a present from me and a present from her new grandchild. I got… nothing. Not even a card to acknowledge the past 10 months of working hard and learning the ropes of being a parent. My mother is just not an empathetic person and it apparently never occurred to her to celebrate me too, on my first mother’s day. And I know it’s not her job or my brother’s, but man it sucked (she also got pissy when I was clearly not enjoying lunch – I was just sad and emotional)

  20. Kirsten says:

    I wish we’d just get rid of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. (And Valentine’s Day, tbh.)

    People have birthdays where friends and family can celebrate (with) you. Even if you have a great relationship with your parent/kids and regularly feel appreciated, now there’s a day where people have to demonstrate extra-appreciativeness or else there’s disappointment? These days are just a lot a lot and kind of unnecessary.

  21. Dara says:

    I am going to preface my mini-rant (maybe not so mini) by stating that working at a Hallmark store in high school completely ruined me for most holidays. Ruined me. That said, I have a deep, seething resentment of all the “invented” holidays – Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Teachers Day, Bosses Day, Love Your Dentist Day (ok, maybe I made that one up), and the evil behemoth that is Valentine’s Day. At best, they are an artificially created obligation to spend money, at worst they are a minefield of disappointed expectations and performative appreciation. Some people also see it as a free pass for being thoughtless and neglectful the other 364 days of the year. As long as they pull out all the stops on that one day, no one says anything if mom gets neglected the rest of the time. Let’s abolish the holiday and just treat moms better every day of the year, and throw in a bouquet of flowers on any random day just for the hell of it.

  22. Truthiness says:

    Jenna Bush Hager is a nepotism hire with no interview skills, so I have a problem with her. Zero interview skills! In my view, she was positively awful with Michelle Obama, trying to force Michelle to take sides on a polarizing issue that would be a lose-lose for Michelle. I guess Jenna’s better than protecting r*pist Matt Lauer for SO LONG, but I can’t watch that show. We have eyes and we saw what happened to Ann Curry.

  23. Rnot says:

    I feel so conflicted here. On the one hand setting realistic expectations can be an act of self-protection. On the other hand there’s a real bitter taste to the whole “don’t expect anything better because you’re not going to get it” message whether it’s internal or external.

  24. AngryJayne says:

    I feel that lowering your expectations = being realistic about what kind of crew you roll with.
    Some friends and family knock planning, being thoughtful, and gift giving out of the park. Most though…not so much (in part due to the fact that it’s usually the moms that handle that stuff).
    That way you’re kind of not disappointed with whatever happens.

  25. Baily says:

    I just had a convo about this same thing with a new mom friend of mine. Lowering your expectations of others, especially during your late 30s and 40s, the middle age years, will save you a lot of grief and heartache. I’ve learned that within the last few years, as I am now 42, and the mom of a six year old son, who is my everything. Folks are disappointing, even those closest to you. You are very rarely appreciated as you should be, especially if you are a mom. I think making peace with that and finding your own joy is crucial.