I’ve really struggled with Mother’s Day since divorce at times. This will be my fifth one on my own. (Yeah I’m counting). To the point that I now actually make a deliberate choice to stay away from Facebook on that day, as I find all the status updates or pictures about how spoilt they’ve been, breakfasts in bed, flowers and gifts they’ve received etc quite difficult to bear. It just gets my green monster going, and quite frankly it hurts, as I wish I had the same. It seems to compound my sense of loss, loneliness and injustice, as it’s not how it should be, I shouldn’t be doing this on my own.
In fact at times I’ve found special occasions really get my head going on why I chose such a bad choice for a husband, and how life could be with a good man, but then I remember the happy times we did have and the fact I do happen to have two great children thanks to him, and I wouldn’t be without them. And that in fact ,I too, had a role to play in the breakdown of my marriage. I almost have to give myself a pet talk and try and snap out of it, to see the good in the situation and what blessings I do have, to find perspective.
Some people are married and they are in some of the loneliest marriages out there, they may not be spoiled on Mother’s Day despite being married, or their husband may work away or be in the Military. So in fact there are people out there who are married who may find Mother’s Day tough, not just lone parents. But in those early days post-separation I found it nigh on impossible to think like this, as I was still so raw.
Thankfully, as the years go by post-divorce, I’m getting less and less of these thoughts, but if you find yourself doing this I assure you you’re not alone, and it does get easier. I still have to make a deliberate choice though on what films I watch, and not going on Facebook on certain occasions, as let’s face it, it will draw those feelings to the surface again at times. Most lone parents would like to settle down again; we would prefer not to do this on our own. I don’t need reminding of what I’m missing; that doesn’t help me.
Mine were only 11 months and 2 and a quarter when my marriage broke down, so Mother’s Day for me hasn’t ever been a particularly special day in the past but like any other when you have young kids. And in fact trying to do anything when they were really little on my own on this day was hard.
I also found it hard to ask for help. I’m a coper and a doer and being vulnerable and asking for help is difficult for me, but I’m learning slowly to do so. Please ask if you need help or support. Some friends only step forward if they realise the need is there.
Perhaps your ex used to really make this day special? That can be so hard, too. You have to create a new normal, a new tradition, a new way of having that special day and yet you remember how it used to be before. That’s also really hard in those early days.
Over the years though I have learnt how to make it more special for me post-divorce. Here are a few tips:
Get a friend to take your children shopping for a gift for you, if you can.
Or give the children some money to buy you a gift and a card and stand in the shop not looking as they choose and buy it, and encourage them to hide it until the big day. You may feel silly but go on, do it.
If they’re older you could drop them in town and collect them later.
Buy something special for breakfast and lunch. Or go out for lunch.
Buy yourself some flowers or let your children choose some with you. You do deserve it – doing it on your own is tough!
If your children are still too young to make breakfast in bed for you without help (mine are), then you can lay things out on a tray the night before. Something simple like dry cereal in a bowl and they can just get the milk out of the fridge in the morning. I’d put some in a small jug that’s easier to lift out of the fridge.
Plan a special day with another lone parent. Then you can both feel less alone and have a great day together.
Or spend it with family if they live nearby or good supportive friends. Don’t spend it alone as that only makes you feel worse in those early days.
I haven’t had a lie in for years as my ex never has them overnight, but for just this one day I plan to put a movie on for them and spend that little bit longer sitting in bed. This concept can make me feel guilty but there’s enough to feel guilty about as a lone parent already and it’s ok to do this sometimes.
Buy yourself a nice top or perfume or bubble bath. I rarely treat myself and spend what money I do have on my kids, but even I deserve a treat sometimes. No guilt!
Go to Church. They often have a special family service and give out daffodils on Mother’s Days. It’s a great way to mix with others and feel less isolated.
All of this may sound contrived or a lot of effort, but my daughter seems quite excited at the idea already and I’m hoping by teaching them young to treat me, it’ll become a habit as they get bigger.
This year I plan to go to a botanical garden for the day with my two with a picnic. Fun for them and lovely for me, too.
There’s not much tougher than doing it on your own, especially with young kids, it can feel like a thankless task, no matter how much you love them. You can have the best of times and the worst of times. You feel like the good cop and the bad cop sometimes. But one thing is for sure, you find an inner strength you didn’t know you had.
So we definitely deserve to celebrate coping as mums on our own this one day a year, and one day as mine get bigger they’ll have learnt how to spoil me and make me breakfast, without any pre- planning by me, I hope. And as each Mother’s Day rolls around, it is a celebration of having made it another year and knowing I’ve done the best job I can for my kids that year. To think of what I have achieved that year and how great my kids are. Five years of doing it on my own, and I’ve come so far! You will too; there is hope.
Have a great day, ladies, whatever you do. We’re all heroes.
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