Today’s guest post is brought to you by blogger and single mom, Jessica Ashley.
In the world in which many of us would like to live, Mother’s Day would be filled with a continual shower of glitter, heartfelt notes penned by marker-wielding toddlers, perfectly-wrapped sentimental gifts and naps. Long, uninterrupted naps. During a massage. By Jude Law.
But for many single moms, the reality of the day might very well be no celebration at all, perhaps sharing custody or not even seeing her kids, or shouldering all the responsibility of planning a day.
It’s possible, I promise, for single moms to take good care of ourselves, even if we don’t have a partner, a lot of money or enough energy. Here are five ways I’ve learned from four Mother’s Days as a single mama and from other women who parent solo about how to be really good to me while caring for my child on my own. And yes, it includes ruffle panties.
- Carve out Mother’s Day time that is all about you and only you. Even if it is not on Mother’s Day. Make a date to celebrate yourself, to luxuriate in silence or spa treatments or some way to validate all of ways you pour out love, work hard and buck up when you are exhausted and overwhelmed. This can be the day before Mother’s Day or a month after. Just be sure to commit to it and remind yourself on your way, “This is my Mother’s Day gift.”
- Tell your child the story of the day they were born. It is so good to recall the details of the day when your child was welcomed into the world. Sharing those moments — how his spirit filled up every corner of the hospital room as soon as he emerged, how it felt when the birth mother introduced you to your new daughter, how beautiful their long lashes and pouty rosebud lips were, how you stayed up all night peering into the bassinet, how he wailed, how his ears are shaped just like Grandpa’s, how many hours you labored — will connect your child with the early days of their own existence but will also be a reminder of how strong you are, how far you’ve come, and of the bonding of birth that helps us get through everything else.
- Buy yourself fancy panties. One of my favorite parts of being single is wearing fancy panties, whether I am headed out to a club, to a shi-shi new restaurant or over to Trader Joe’s for more tomatillo salsa and chips. I feel better about my body and like I am valuing myself when I am wearing the good stuff under my clothes, like a little wink to myself when I get dressed every morning. Plus, the affirmation that you deserve to be swathed in lace and leopard print whether you have a partner or not is critical. Take every opportunity, from Target panties (4 for $20 and they are adorable) to LaPerla (holy softness and deliriously spendy). Extra points if you look in the mirror in those sheer red numbers and say “Hey, hot stuff. You still have it. Me. Ow.” before you plug in a phone-reminder to get soy milk at the store.
- Get yourself something great for less than $20. Or even $10. I personally have no problem ordering myself a new dress or adding another pair of 5-inch platform sandals to my collection now that I don’t have a person sharing my finances to discuss the purchase with. But many single moms stack up the rationalizations for skipping gifts for themselves or don’t have the budget to treat themselves regularly. This is fair, but do use Mother’s Day as a great opportunity to dote on yourself a lot for just a bit of money. Forever 21 has fabulous cocktail rings for about $5 (and you won’t feel bad tossing it when it disintegrates on your finger), you can find lovely feathered headbands on Etsy for $10, choose a creamy MAC lip gloss for $16, stock up on bath salts at TJ Maxx for less than $20, slip into a sheer kimono from Target for a bit more. The only requirement of buying this gift for yourself is that every time you put it on your body, you must remind yourself of something affirming and heart-pumping: I am a phenomenal woman. I am a kickass mother. I am full of light and hope and terrible riddles. I am worth it.
- Read mom-focused books with your kids. You may not have all the time you want with your kids on Mother’s Day or enough energy to plan some big activity or the opportunity to sleep in, nap or get away. But you can take one small thing you already do with your kids and let it shine a light on all the reasons it is exhilarating and exhausting and evolving to be a mother. My favorite way to do this is to pull out all of the “mommy” books from my son’s bookshelves and spend a few days celebrating…well, me and the relationship I have with my boy. Plus, all the ways women (and some men) mother. Those old board books from when he was a baby? He can read those to me now and that makes it all the more teary and celebratory. Here are some of our favorites:
- Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary
- The Mommy Book by Todd Parr
- Time for Bed by Mem Fox
- Mommy Hugs by Ann Gutman
- Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer
- Mama, Mommy and Me by Leslea Newman and Carol Thompson
- I Love My Mommy Because… by Laurel Porter-Gaylord
- Mommy Hugs by Karen Katz
- Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman
What ways will you celebrate your amazing single-mama self this Mother’s Day?
Jessica Ashley is author of the single-mom-in-the-city blog, Sassafrass, and wears inappropriately high heels to the playground.