Mother’s Day is around the corner — and after getting a divorce and spending this day alone with my kids, I’ve realized this day means different things to different moms. When you go from having a partner who plans something, even something tiny, to being solo, Mother’s Day has a good chance of losing its luster.
But here’s the thing: If you are a co-parenting mom, or a single mom, please don’t let Mother’s Day slide by without doing anything for yourself just because you aren’t married any longer.
While some women want to have a quiet day at home with their family that might include takeout or having dinner made for them, there are many moms who ask their partner to take the kids out for a bit so they can have a few hours to read, take a bath, nap, or do all three. It’s also a treat to get out for a few uninterrupted hours and treat yourself to a coffee or some shopping — even if it’s just a spin around Target.
If you are a mom who will be on your own this year with no backup — no extra set of hands, no one to make dinner for you or tell the kids to remember to be extra good and wish you a happy Mother’s Day — remember you deserve to be celebrated anyway. And speaking from experience, it actually is possible.
Last Mother’s Day was vastly different for me. It was my first Mother’s Day since my divorce and I was alone with my three kids all day. I wasn’t sure what to expect and thought the day would make me feel sad, so I thought about downplaying it and treating it like a regular day.
But I changed my mind after I realized something: Every mother deserves to have a special day (or even a few special hours) regardless of her situation. And if I was being honest with myself, it was something that I wanted. I wanted my kids to see me have no shame in asking to do something a little special with (or without) them to celebrate the fact I was a mom.
My kids are teens and tweens, and during the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I gave them a few friendly reminders that I wanted to do something to make the day feel special. I let them know it was important to me and they listened — for the most part, anyway. Our kids really do take mental notes. And even if they don’t always honor your requests, they really do want to please you, so it’s worth speaking up about it.
Also, remember you can celebrate the fact you are a kickass mom any day — it doesn’t have to be that day. Maybe you can take a personal day from work, or get a sitter for a different day if no one is available, in order to give you a little respite on the actual day. The important thing is if you are craving some time alone, ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to help. If you co-parent, ask your ex to keep the kids for a few extra hours so you can recharge. Again — if you don’t ask and treat it like the special day that it is, neither will anyone else.
Food is a big deal to me and I always look forward to the simple things like ordering takeout or going to dinner — so went out to a Chinese buffet. It wasn’t fancy or anything, but I didn’t want fancy; I wanted fast, easy, and greasy. That what I got and I left feeling incredibly satisfied, but more importantly, it was enough.
You can also order yourself something special online, from the comfort of your sofa, book a massage, or invite a friend for coffee or lunch later in the week (or that day if you can manage it). This is about celebrating yourself. I know how hard this is, but it’s a necessity, especially if you parent solo, even part of the time. And it’s worth the effort you put into it.
Honestly, there was a short time when I was a little mopey thinking the day wouldn’t seem special and might be a reminder of all the Mother’s Days in the past, when my ex would tell our kids to be good, let me sleep in a bit, or bring me breakfast in bed.
I know it doesn’t sound as fun to plan this for yourself — and I realize it’s not easy to do days like this, or your birthday, on your own. There’s always some guilt that creeps in and you’ve probably become an expert at telling yourself you don’t need to spend the time, money, or energy on yourself.
But you do, and you should. Do it for yourself. Do it for your kids. Do it so you can show your kids what it means to practice self-love. It’s okay to make a day all about you. And just because there’s no one there to plan something, or an extra set of hands available to make your day easier, I hope you know that doesn’t mean you should write it off.
It’s Mother’s Day, and you are an amazing mom who needs to honor herself.