Dear Single Moms: Pandemic Or Not, Celebrate Yourself This Mother’s Day

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Mother hugging daughter in kitchen
Scary Mommy and Sara Monika/Getty

The one thing I’ve learned in my almost 17 years of being a mother is this: Don’t count on anyone else to make Mother’s Day special. It’s just another day to your kids, moms never get a day off, and partners can’t read your mind. There’s nothing wrong with taking charge of this day.

I never really thought I set my expectations too high back in the days of not voicing my opinion about what I wanted out of this day, but apparently I did. It always tasted like sadness and disappointment. Then, three years ago when my ex-husband moved out, I discovered that if I wanted Mother’s Day to feel special, I had to put a little effort into it myself.

I can tell you that one small tweak in my life has made a huge difference on Mother’s Day. Since being a single mom, I’ve refused to sit and feel sorry for myself. I decided I could be the one to make Mother’s Day great or terrible. Being selfish won, and I now plan my own day.

I’m kidding — it’s not selfish. It’s called putting yourself first so you don’t have unmet expectations followed by feeling resentful. I will never forget to celebrate myself this one day of the year — it’s the very least I deserve. And honestly, I wonder why I didn’t start taking charge of Mother’s Day sooner.

I am worth it, I deserve it and I will not forget that. Especially not this year.

Single moms, I beg of you, do not neglect yourself this year. Pandemic or not, you matter. This has been a rough ride for everyone. We all have our own struggles; we all deal with things in our own way. I have caught myself many times in the past month saying I didn’t need to celebrate Mother’s Day this year; that I didn’t need to buy myself anything special or do anything meaningful. Then I remember how much joy I get out of taking my kids out for sushi and going to a movie. This year we will be ordering takeout and watching something at home, but it’s what I want to do. Since there’s still a way to do my favorite thing, we are doing it, dammit.

Last week I ordered my favorite mascara and eyeliner, and it should be arriving just in time — it’s a gift from me to me, and I’m looking forward to it.

I know this year is extremely different and you may be thinking it will be easier just to sweep it under the rug and plug along, but remember — it doesn’t have to be some huge, grand celebration. Obviously we can’t make reservations to go out for a fancy brunch, but maybe you have a favorite meal that you’d like your kids to cook for you … or you’d like to cook it for yourself. Do it.

Maybe there’s a pair of earrings you’ve been wanting on Amazon. Order them.

Maybe you would like to escape for a few hours, tell your family you’re going to go up in your room, light a candle, put on some favorite music, take a bath, or read a book. A little alone time will do wonders for you right now.

I’m sure you’ve been dying to treat yourself (which you so rightfully deserve since you can’t get out and do something right now), so maybe order a gift certificate from your favorite local spa, nail salon, or beauty salon. Buy that shit and give yourself something tangible to look forward to.

Please do not gloss over this day and act as if it just doesn’t matter as you let it run into the next, because that’s exactly what will happen if you let it. And single moms, you cannot let it. You deserve to be picked up. You deserve to be celebrated. You deserve to have one day, or one afternoon, or even a few moments, where you recognize yourself and all that you do for your family.

Click on the “add to cart button,” buckle the kids up and stuff your face with fast food, or spend the afternoon with your favorite book after giving your kids free range with their devices.

I know feeling valued on Mother’s Day as a single mom can be tough, especially when there’s no partner around to plan a celebration (even if you had to remind them), but make this year the start of a new tradition. I don’t care what it is, just remember you this year, sister. Because even though we might not be thinking about our wants and needs very much right now, it’s more important than ever to give ourselves some love.

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