How I’m celebrating myself, a single mom, on Mother’s Day

As soon as May started and Mother’s Day quickly approached, I realized just as quickly that it would be my first holiday as a single mother. That thought alone didn’t make me sad, but it did make me wonder how I should frame this holiday for myself. My young son is too little to comprehend the day’s importance, but also, I never want to solely place the responsibility of this significant holiday on him any year.

I remember being a child—I always loved Mother’s Day because of how my mom reacted to the little presents my brother and I would make her, like a simple felt teapot to store tea bags that decorated our fridge for years. But more than gifts, I want to redefine Mother’s Day as a holiday where I can indulge in myself and celebrate my own experience becoming a mother. I want to make it a day when I take on new traditions to highlight my unique journey. I want to make myself feel special. As soon as I started thinking beyond presents and stopped thinking others should be responsible for the celebrations, I really got creative.

Here are some ways I will make the holiday unique and personal for myself throughout the years. Hopefully single moms reading this will be inspired to do the same.

Have a photoshoot with a friend

I’m the type of mom who swears her son can be a model. My favorite gifts from friends over the past two years have been framed candid photos of either my son or the both of us having fun. For Mother’s Day, consider asking a friend who is adept at photography to take some beautiful, intentional shots to celebrate the holiday and capture the present. In my own mother’s scrapbook of our 18 years living together, we’re missing candid photos together because she, too, was a single mom and often the main photographer at our parties and birthdays.


Plan a picnic

A picnic for you and your little one at a beautiful local park can take minimal planning and mitigate the stress of a more formal event. Also, picnic foods are relatively simple; snacks are easy to pack and easy to clean up. Perhaps, depending on your child’s age, you can add in a grounding exercise where you meditate together and take this opportunity to consciously meditate on your favorite parts of motherhood.

Give yourself flowers

If your budget does not allow for a picnic, think about visiting a free flower garden or taking your child to a nursery where you all can pick out your favorite flowers. Then, together, decorate your home with your new flowers.


Tell your friends

I love celebrating my birthday, but this year, I found myself quite upset on the day. My friends hadn’t pulled through how I’d wished. After a few phone calls and vent sessions, my best friend pointed out that I had never actually told her how much my birthday means to me, or how I wanted to be celebrated on that day. This made me think of all the ways we hope for others to uplift us, but we don’t often vocalize it.

Friends and loved ones are not mind readers, so if Mother’s Day is a huge deal for you and you’re battling the idea of celebrating it yourself, then try to disperse some of that pressure. Let others know what you would like. It might be too late for it his year, but make sure you get started on Mother’s Day plans with those you love sooner than later. It’s easy to feel unappreciated, especially without the support of a romantic partner, but sometimes our friends can be even better than a romantic partner—they just need a little nudge and time to plan.


If possible, revisit your birth experience

For some this might not be an option for a vast array of reasons, but if you have photographs or videos that bring about positive memories of your child’s birth or of the first moments of their life, then consider sharing them with your child. If they are too young or uninterested, give yourself some space to reflect on those images or on the experience of becoming a mom alone.

If you don’t have any media from that day, if the experience is triggering, or if you didn’t birth your child so you don’t have those kinds of photos, consider reimagining your birth experience. Focus on what did go well or on the moment you met your child. Remember the good emotions you felt and journal them. If the birth was not perfect or it’s outright too painful to recount, perhaps you can try working out those feelings in the future—but not on Mother’s Day. Sometimes, a difficult birthing experience can subconsciously or consciously taint your feelings about motherhood. We benefit when we release those kinds of memories. If possible, gift yourself by revisiting these emotions and clearing them so that next year’s Mother’s Day shines even brighter.

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