So It's Your First Mother's Day As A Single Mom —
Let your kids do nice things for you. You might have to teach them how.
Today is your first Mother’s Day. You might have had three or seven or 16 Mother’s Days before today, but today you are single and you are a mother and this is the day when both of those things together might make you feel pure awful as anything. Maybe you feel like the only mother who is single in the world today, and I can tell you that you are not.
You know that you are not, it’s not like you don’t already know. You’ve seen movies, you’ve read books, you’ve been to the grocery store where mothers are pushing their kids around in carts by themselves. And you wondered if they were single or just shopping on their own and when you were still with your person you sort of told yourself it was the same thing in the end. But now you are a single mother for sure and you know it is not the same thing at all.
You might feel alone, deep alone. Alone with your kids, which is still alone today and before I tell you that things get better I’m going to tell you that it’s okay if you feel alone with your kids. Sometimes you are all in your clubhouse together and sometimes you want to lock the door to your own room in the clubhouse to sulk for a bit. Today set a timer for sulking that is either 15 minutes or 30 minutes but not more. Any more and you’ll forget how to get back into the clubhouse.
You might be tempted to tell yourself little stories today. About everyone else’s day and what it probably looks like and how perfect it must be. The adoring partner, the docile children, the big house with the big kitchen and the big backyard. You are looking in imaginary windows at imaginary families and aching and aching for what you think you’ve lost. Or what you think your kids have lost which is the worst of all aches. But you don’t know. Everyone is just out there being normal still, just like before this first Mother’s Day. They are forgetting things and stepping on LEGO pieces and getting annoyed with each other. You are not alone in aching for something different, this is the bad news and the good news.
Today you and your kids might have forgotten to prepare yourselves for the shift. The new way of things where no one takes them shopping to buy you that scented candle that smells like cookies and there is no other adult to pay for dinner at a restaurant. No adult to cook or pick up flowers or to tell you to put your feet up.
This sounds hard. It is hard. It’s sad to wake up on Mother’s Day with your little kids who love you and they don’t know what to do. It’s sad to all sit in the living room looking at each other like you are trying to remember a Jeopardy question that’s not quite coming to you. They are little, for me they were little boys with sticking up hair and earnest eyes, and they want so badly to do right by you but there’s no one to show them how. They are embarrassed at first and so you are embarrassed, the keeper of all their feelings times 10, and you all just wish there wasn’t a Mother’s Day to remind you of the new way of things.
This is when you learn it, though. Your day is your own.
You are going to have to take ownership of this day from now on. You are going to have to remind your kids that Mother’s Day is coming, you’re going to have to help them plan. You’ll have to go to the grocery store to pick up all the breakfast stuff so they can cook you something. Because your day is your own. But it is also for them.
It’s true that there is no one there to help you but also, also you can pick for yourself. You can make your day your own. This first Mother’s Day you can try, just try, something a little different. Order pizza and watch all of the Lord Of The Rings movies in your pajamas together. Go to the park and hang out with a book and a coffee filled up with all the stuff you normally don’t add because you want to have good cholesterol or whatever. Let your kids do nice things for you. This is the part that is for every parent not even just you so I will make it bold: Let your kids do nice things for you.
Maybe one of your sons will wake up early and make what he thinks is a smoothie but is actually a big glass of milk filled with chunky peanut butter and melted chocolate for your breakfast. Maybe he’ll stand over you breathing as you sleep so he can be the first one to say “Happy Mother’s Day” and even though he is shirtless and his belly is smeared in chocolate, you will know true love in that moment. Maybe another son will fold dirty laundry for you and leave it on your bed with a beatific smile of generosity lighting up his face. Maybe they’ll feed you burnt toast. Maybe they deserve to show you they love you. Maybe they need you to help them out a little.
Because you are going to have to take ownership of this day from now on. You are going to have to remind your kids that Mother’s Day is coming, you’re going to have to help them plan. You’ll have to go to the grocery store to pick up all the breakfast stuff so they can cook you something. Because your day is your own. But it is also for them. You’ll even give them a bit of money so they can buy you cards. Or flowers. You’ll foster their ideas about how to celebrate you which feels uncomfortable but every year, and this I promise you, they’ll know you better. They’ll make a game out of it. They’ll get to be the boss of loving you for the day and they’ll thrive on it. And so will you.