Mother’s Day After Divorce

2018-04-13T00:45:22+00:00

Divorce changes everything.  During and after divorce, even a seemingly clear-cut, simple holiday like Mother’s Day can be full of challenges and disappointment.  Our after-divorce Mother’s Day can bring on feelings of sadness and loss instead of joy and a sense of being appreciated and recognized for our importance to the family.

Only another mother actually realizes everything we contribute to the success of our children and our family.  As mothers, in the day-to-day, we sometimes feel unappreciated. Mother’s Day is usually that one day when our children, and even our husband, make things special for us.  After divorce, that often doesn’t happen. Those first Mother’s Days after divorce can bring loneliness, despair and feelings of worthlessness, instead of the feelings we want.

For mothers, Mother’s Day is of course, an emotional day – especially after divorce when we are emotionally fragile about almost everything!  Because our wasband may have left us or has moved on to someone else, we wonder if our children will abandon us, too. We wonder if anyone likes us. A divorce we didn’t want or didn’t expect makes us think those irrational thoughts particularly on a day like Mother’s Day.

Scheduling

As with all holidays, Mother’s Day during or after divorce can be difficult for both younger and older children.  Just keep in mind that kids are usually the innocent bystanders to a situation they did not cause and cannot fix. They usually try to make things good for both of their parents.  They are figuring out how to survive this new situation themselves, so the easier we can make it for them, the better.

Custody

How Mother’s Day turns out in the middle of a divorce or even after the divorce is finalized usually depends mostly on how old your children are and if your custody arrangements include you having custody on that special day.

Some of the difficulties with holidays … even holidays like Mother’s Day after divorce … can be solved before they start by discussing family schedules during custody hearings.  Judges and attorneys should encourage children to be with their mothers on Mother’s Day and their fathers on Father’s Day. The same is true for birthdays.

Make sure those decisions are in the decree from the beginning if geography and other circumstances make it feasible.  If it is not part of your custody agreement, see if you can get it changed for the good of both parents. If that’s not possible, you will have to create other ways to celebrate your day, even if it’s not on the actual holiday.  And that’s hard, but it can be okay.

Your Kids Have Their Own Lives

Remember, too, that older children have their own lives going on at full tilt even after the divorce.  Once our children leave home for college or to start their own lives, we have to honor their decisions to spend Mother’s Day away from you.  As children get older, that will probably be true whether you are divorced or not.

Often our older children, who have their own families, are celebrating the mother in their own household.  We can learn to participate in a Skype visit or GoogleChat with our grown children and grandchildren. Remember that they love us just as much as always, but as they get older they have other responsibilities, too.

Especially after our divorce, our children do not need a mother who falls apart or freaks out about being alone during Mother’s Day, when these same children demonstrate that they love us in other ways throughout the year.  They may be trying to make sure they do what they need to do for their own primary family in hopes of strengthening it. We need to encourage that in every way we can.

Flexibility is Key

Again, with everything having to do with our children during divorce and after divorce, flexibility is so important. Like all the other holidays, there is no rule saying that Mother’s Day has to be celebrated on the date the calendar says is Mother’s Day.  Since we know that every day is really Mother’s Day :)), why not celebrate it on any day that works for you and your children!

Not putting extra pressure on your children (and grandchildren) is so important!  Stay on the high road. Guilting our children because they cannot be with us is not a good road to go down.  Find other ways to make the day meaningful and wonderful for everyone involved.

Sometimes things work out just the way we want it to during holidays like Mother’s Day.  After divorce, something they don’t. But it’s not the end of the world. Flexibility and resilience are powerful lessons we can teach the next generations.  Mother’s Day is just one way we can model those important life skills for them.

Family Traditions

Mother’s Day disruptions after divorce are often just one more challenging reality we have to deal with.Time-honored traditions are often casualties of divorce, So let’s all be strong, take a deep breath and see what we can control and what we can’t. What traditions can be saved and which ones we may have to let go.

Mothers are usually the keepers of the traditions in the family.  Even though the father may think certain things are important, it is often the mother who brings most of those traditions to life.

Mother’s help children stay in touch with relatives.  They help children make the cards or pick out the gifts. They usually cook the special meals or the traditional treats on different holidays.

If you have young children and are divorced or in the process, those children, of course, cannot be responsible for making that day special for you.  Your ex-husband is the one who should make sure that young children remember to celebrate what you mean to them. Sadly, often there is such animosity between parents after divorce, that doesn’t happen.

That’s out of your control, so don’t spend time fretting about it or mourning something you cannot change.

If your children are older, they can find simple ways to honor you, and we have to be thankful for those small things.  Just keep in mind that until kids have some access to their own money and a way to get someplace to purchase a gift, gifts don’t just magically show up.  You most likely will need to help them find ways to make your own day special.

You might even play “turn around,” and send a message to each of your children and grandchildren saying “You make being a mother fun!”  or “You make being a grandmother exciting and an adventure to be sure!”

When divorce happens, often children are left with no one to encourage them to do the things they need to do like making sure their own mother feels special.  You, on the other hand can help them send grandma a Mother’s Day card or make a simple gift or call them or skype them on Mother’s Day. You can’t control what happens for you, so rise above it.  Don’t fall apart about things you can’t control.

Instead, create ways to make yourself happy and fulfilled and that will bring fun into your own life yourself.

New Ways To Celebrate Mother’s Day After Divorce:

  1. Focus on celebrating your own mother.  Even if you mother has died, spend some time thinking about what good things she taught you.  If she is still living, make a trip to see her or arrange for a special outing or trip just for the two of you.  Spend the day with her and be thankful you have the chance to do that. Help your grandchildren Skype or send a card or a message.
  2. Find a random mother to encourage.  If you’re not with your children or grandchildren during Mother’s Day, find a woman in the grocery store with several kids in tow, and give her a small, inexpensive bunch of flowers and remind her how important her job of mothering is. Also tell her to cherish those wild early childhood days!
  3. Go to a nursing home or just around your neighborhood and find a woman who usually doesn’t have visitors or lives alone.  Adopt her as your mother for the day. Take her a treat (check with the nursing home to make sure it’s okay to bring food treats like candy or baked goods.)  Make her day special.
  4. Create new traditions.  Be like a young woman I know who has been divorced since her children were small.  Every Mother’s Day, she has created the tradition of going to the nursery or garden shop and picking out Spring flowers for their porch.  Each child is given a certain amount of money to spend for the flowers they want, and the mother gets to pick out some for herself as well.  They each all pick out seeds for their Community Garden plot. They always look forward to that special day. I got to go last year, too!
  5. Take a single mom’s children out shopping.  If you have a family member, neighbor, friend at work or someone at church who you know is a single mom, take her young children shopping for “Something for Mother’s Day” or bring them to your house to make cookies or fix a special soup or simple dinner to deliver to Mom on Mother’s Day.
  6. Do something special for the mothers in your own family.  Something I like to do for Mother’s Day is to get a pot of spring flowers for each of the mothers of my grandchildren.  I write a note telling them how important what they are doing every day is, and that I am thankful that they are such good mothers to my grandchildren.  I also do something similar for the fathers in the family on Father’s Day.
  7. Do something special for yourself!  Get a massage, a manicure or a pedicure.  Go someplace special to get your haircut. If you are alone, go get carryout from someplace you love and enjoy every bite of it.  Get yourself flowers. Get together with a friend who is also alone and go to the movies or just do something else you would enjoy.  We are in control of our own happiness, even on Mother’s Day after divorce when we are on our own.

In Conclusion – Celebrating Mother’s Day After Divorce

When we are busy shining God’s light for others, it brings joy to us as well.  Especially after divorce, we still all have so many blessings to celebrate, including our children and our grandchildren!  Let’s make every day, even Mother’s Day, about spreading as much joy and good cheer as we can, and we’ll discover that most of that joy and good cheer falls back on us!

Mother’s Day during or after divorce can bring many challenges, but it can also bring many opportunities to do something nice for someone else who may need encouragement.  Even after divorce, we always have the chance to create joy regardless of what day it is – Holiday or not!

About the Author:

Suzy developed Midlife Divorce Recovery as a safe refuge for people healing and surviving the overwhelm of divorce. Starting her first RADiCAL support group in 2003 she's been helping women navigate the journey of divorce ever since.

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