Shout Out To Single Moms

This one is for all the single moms out there who are facing another holiday and trying to do it all on their own.

I want you to know that I get it. I want you to know that I care.

I know it’s hard. Holidays can be particularly brutal, and sometimes really lonely, even with kids around. If you’re still getting used to be a single mom, trying to get through holidays and special days can feel anything but special. It can feel stressful. It can feel hollow. It can feel hurtful.

But it does get better, with time and a positive attitude. Like with everything else in life, you have to have a positive attitude. Mourning a failed marriage or the end of a relationship is normal. It’s expected, and it’s part of the grieving process. But at some point you have to start opening yourself to good feelings, even if its in little tiny increments. With all our rain here in Seattle, our weather gurus have come up with the term, “sun spots” to let us know that we’ll see the sun sometime that day or week, even if very briefly.

Single women and single moms need to learn to look for the sun spots in their lives, too. Look for the moments when things work, when you feel good, when the kids succeed, when you’ve that moment of calm. Tell yourself that there will be more of these good moments. Remind yourself that eventually the good moments will outweigh the bad. And remind yourself that you don’t need a man or a new relationship to provide you with happiness. You and your kids can be your own source of sun and fun. You and your kids (or if you’re a single woman, just you) can create new traditions to rival the old, new holiday memories that are as strong and happy and healthy as the old, if not stronger, happier, and healthier.

I have been doing holidays alone for five years. Even though I met Surfer Ty years ago, we actually share very few holidays together. My kids holidays are Ty’s biggest work days of the year. It’s not practical for me to haul the kids to Hawaii during the school year for every school break, and it’s impossible for me to ask Ty to not run his business just so we can have a man at our holiday table, or participating in a holiday tradition.

And so all my favorite traditions are traditions I share with the kids. Valentine’s Night isn’t about romance, but about love, family love. Easter isn’t about having certain people over, or certain things happen. It’s about togetherness, forgiveness, hope, and love. Family love. Mother’s Day isn’t about me being spoiled but about me being grateful for the amazing people in my life… my children.

What I’m trying to say is that there isn’t just one way to be a family, or one way to celebrate a holiday, or one way to create wonderful memories and traditions for your children. Until my divorce five years ago my children knew only the most traditional of holidays–Easter church service followed by brunch followed by Easter egg hunt; Christmas Eve midnight might followed by stockings and gifts on Christmas morning–and while I try to do the same now, I’ve found there are differences. Without another adult to carry the conversation I’ve learned to listen more closely to my children. Without another adult to shoulder some of the discipline the boys and I have had to battle out our own rules and rhythm and respect. Without another adult to help decorate, or cook, or clean up I’ve learned to simplify, realizing that happiness doesn’t need lots of extras and external stressful. It just needs me to be with the kids and to laugh, and to love, and to sometimes cry. Holidays don’t have to be busy or extravagant or perfect. They just need me to be real, and present.

And being present with my kids feels good.

It feels right.

It didn’t always, but we’ve been creating these memories and traditions for five years now and the boys look forward to them now. They know what to expect, they’re excited about the fun traditions we’ve built, and they know they’re responsible for making holidays festive and celebratory, too.

You see, we women don’t have to do it all on our own. We can let our kids know they’ve a responsibility to making family time fun and festive. Because a family isn’t just about mom giving and giving and kids taking and taking (our spouses, for that matter). It’s about sharing. And caring. And doing your best.

To the newly single moms, you might not be in the sun yet. You might be struggling because tomorrow’s Easter and Mother’s Day is coming and you wish, how you wish, someone else was there to make it easier.

Just know that you’re not alone, and you can do it, and if you do the hard work now–if you stretch and reach for the sun spots and carve out those happy moments for the kids–you’ll eventually have happy moments, too. Lots of them.

So tomorrow while I’m waddling about the wet lawn early in the morning hiding all the plastic and real eggs, know that I’m thinking of you, and cheering you on, and saying you go, girl. Just do the best you can.

Happy Easter everyone!

Jane

PS  I’m doing a shortie contest for Easter, and the prize is a cute blue and brown tote bag with a signed book of your choice from my back list, a Starbucks mug, a $10 Starbucks drink card, and lots of JP reader goodies. Enter to win by posting a comment…any comment is fine. Contest closes Monday night midnight PST and I’ll announce the winner Tuesday morning.

66 Comments

  1. This is great and so true. I was raised by a single mom, and she busted her tail to make holidays be a big deal. It wasn’t until I married and had my own son that I realized how hard it was for her to accent the positive and just let all the bad stuff go. Happy Easter, Jane.

  2. Jane,
    Congratulations on the your soon to be bundle of joy. And your post is very sweet, and uplifiting. I’m not a single mother, but i love reading your posts.
    I know several women who are single mothers, and work their butts off to giver their children a happy and safe family to come home to. And unfortunately i know a couple who are married, but they might as well be single.
    So no matter what your situation its hard making things perfect for your kids, but in the end like you said the best thing you can give them is your love, and time.
    happy easter, and have lots of fun snuggling with max very soon.
    jody

  3. Those are such nice thoughts. Thanks! I love that you don’t pretend you have a perfect life and you care about people that may be having a less happy period in their life. Here you have this amazing time in your life- just a few days from the birth of your very special child, you’re doing well with your career, and you have a great man in your life,.. and Hawaii!!! And yet you take time to think about others and extend some support and caring. Thanks for thinking like that.

  4. My sister is a single mom to a beautiful sixteen-month-old baby girl. I’m going to send her a link to this post.

    Single or married, you give great advice for getting through the holidays. Thank you!

  5. I hear you. I’m not single, but my mom was single for most of my years growing up after my dad passed away early. At the time, I didn’t have a great amount of appreciation for the incredibly difficult job she was doing, day after day, year after year, I tended to focus on the flaws and areas not particularly well done. Now that I’m a mom myself, I can only marvel at what she accomplished – including many a special holiday.

  6. one year when it was just me and my son, i forgot easter was the next day and was up at 5am, in pj’s, hiding easter eggs in our yard. {good thing i had bought the goodies ahead of time!}

  7. Jane,
    Your blog brought tears to my eyes. My husband travels three weeks, then home two weeks. I am more of a single mom to three kids than a married mom. I struggle all the time.

    This year’s Easter is another challenging holiday. My husband is leaving at 4 a.m. so I am doing the holiday alone. It doesn’t feel like a holiday, just another day. I have to try and make it special, putting a smile on my face for my kids. Even though they are older, it is still a holiday and still something they look forward to so I want to make it special. Your blog reminded me to make our own sun spot. We’ll make it special. We’ll have fun and we’ll be a family even though we are one member short.

    Thank you for making me feel better about my situation. It meant a lot… 🙂

  8. To all the single mothers out there, you guys rock. You all are special individuals who just got a well deserving pat on the back. Keep up the good work from a woman who has been inspired. Thank you for all that you do for your family. Have a wonderful and a blessed Easter.

  9. Jane,
    Your posts always make me think. My dad died when I was 17, but I had 3 younger brothers and a sister who felt the loss more than I did. All of us, and that is 8 total, did what we could to help mom out, but holidays were tough, especially at first. We made do with less, but we appreciated each other a lot more. My mom is my hero, and when I was married and had a son my admiration for her went off the charts.
    SIngle moms are awesome!

  10. That was an awesome blog and even though I’m not single and I do struggle with holidays as well and it’s nice to be reminded that everything doesn’t have to be perfect.

  11. What wonderful and encouraging words! A quote by Wayne Dyer changed my outlook on everything, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at chagne.” Happy Easter!

  12. Wonderful post Jane!! I baked cupcakes for my two little girls to decorate today. We will be delivering them to family and friends tommorow. It is amazing how little things like that can create such wonderful memories. Whenever my 4 year old hears we are going to do something like that she squeals with excitement. It is so much work to be a Mom, but there is really nothing better in life!! I hope you have a wondeful Easter! Eat some peeps for baby Mac! 🙂

  13. I think your advice is good for everyone. Even though I’m married, when my kids were little I wanted everything to be done “perfectly” for every holiday but I found that doing that took all of the enjoyment out of the day so I started being more relaxed about things and enjoying the moments more. Happy Easter!

  14. More words of wisdom from Jane. I wish I had read them when I left my first husband. There were so many times that I was sure I wasn’t strong enough or smart enough…capable…and then I would remember I had been doing it by myself for years anyway.

    I am a person who loves traditions and the holidays are part of that. But I have also learned that traditions change, too. Being locked into a particular mindset only lessons the joy of the day. With kids you discover so many other ways of doing things and definitely we learn to see the world in a different way.

  15. Thanks for your great post! Though I am not single I am feeling like that for today’s holiday as my husband is leaving for a business trip in about three hours. I am going out to brunch with my niece and her family. I can’t wait for the 12 and 4 year olds to tell me what the Easter Bunny brought them this year. I am going to send your post to two single mothers who are doing it on their own and doing amazing jobs. I so admire these two women for their courage, strength and I hope they too will find their sun spots!

    Happy Easter and have a great day!

    ~Michelle

  16. With a husband who is a chef (and works all the time), I’ve done most holidays with our my myself. It does take extra work and a shift in how you see the holidays, but they can be just as fun. Hubby actually got to fill the Easter basket with me last night…a first!

  17. You post brought back a lot of GOOD memories for me. I was a single mom for five years. That was a ton of holidays with and without my son. When I had my son, my siblings wanted to make sure that we were together for the cousins and when I didn’t I traveled to see them.
    I didn’t realize that those were good memories b/c at the time they felt heart breaking. Now I am remarried to a wonderful man who has custody of his three boys (making me the only princess in the house). My husband and I have started the wonderful family traditions with our four boys, but my 10 year old biological son whispered in my ear, ‘mom remember on Easter we would lay in bed and eat candy the Easter bunny would bring me, get up and go to church and then have a lunch date.’ MY HEART STOPPED! It was a hard time in my life, but some really great memories came out of it.
    Families are not longer defined by a man, women, two kids and dogs. Families consist of anything imaginable. Even if it was just you and a hamster or a friend.
    I wish every one a Happy Easter!! Eat a peep for baby mac!
    Tonya

  18. I know this thing’s for single women, but I stumbled onto this and had to say something. I’m in the process of getting divorced and moving into another town.
    I feel awkward and relieved at the same time. We share a 15-year-old-child, whom I will miss dearly.
    I’m battling the tanking economy and working in a industry, the newspaper business, about to tank.
    One good thing came from this divorce proceeding: I became an author. My first book, Picking Cotton, comes out on Thursday at Red Rose Publishing.
    Again, my apologies for muscling in on a topic for women. Just wanted to let you know single dads hurt on the holidays as well.

  19. Parenting is the most difficult job out there, hands down, and single parenting is tenfold. But it is also one of the most rewarding jobs that you can take on, too. When you please your child, you get a hug and an “I love you.” If you please your boss, you’re lucky if you get a “good job.”

    So I just want to say to all of the moms out there, single or otherwise, you’re doing a great job and some day, your kids will think so, too.

    Happy Easter!

    Margay

  20. Great thoughts with caring and sharing and much time spent with conveying the message of hope and understanding. Happy Easter to all!

  21. I’m a single mom but have been for 10 years. It was tough in the beginning but so much better now. I have been so lucky to have my parents living close by who support me so much emotionally, always letting me know I’m strong and I am making a difference in my kids’ lives. Thank you for a wonderful post reinforcing that for the holidays. Happy Easter to you and your family!

  22. I guess everyone struggles with the holidays…wanting them to be perfect…or at least a great memory. I guess we all just struggle differently…single, married, or married with a husband who is physically absent or emotionally not present.That’s just the way it is. What you choose to focus on will have a big affect on how you remember it.

  23. Happy Easter to you and yours! Although I’m not a single mom, I have a very good friend who raised 2 boys on her own and I marvelled at how she made memories for her boys! (And continues to do so even though they are both adults..) Thanks for sharing!

  24. I loved the post Jane, you are so right! It is really not about gifts or how much you get to make you smile, but so much about family and being around the ones you love. I wish more people could realize that. I came from a large family that didn’t have a lot. We never had tons toys like kids now days, but we always had eachother! We are one of the closest families I know and we love eachother more than anything.

    Jane, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter! Hopefully the rain will break for a while so you can have a somewhat dry Easter egg hunt!:)

  25. Great post Jane, so sweet. It looks like we have a pretty day going for us today at least the sun is shinning. It is a little cold right now but it is going to warm up later, so the children should have some nice weather to hunt eggs in. I think it is going to get to about 60 today.

  26. Hi Jane – Happy Easter.
    Thanks for the blog – brought some tears to my eyes remembering. I have been a single parent for over 20 years. My girls are grown now and there dad has passed away so I was just feeling like the bad mom for not having a big Easter celebration. I can remember getting them all dressed up in their Easter dresses and going to mass and then a big celebration at their grandparents. None of those things happen anymore but we do the best we can. Reading your blog made me feel better. I’m going to grab those girls and go to the movie and lunch. Have a great Easter with the boys.
    Dawn

  27. Hi Jane,

    That is a wonderful post, I think simgle moms are amazing, and never get the credit they deserve. I hope you and your little ones have a wonderful Easter. My family and I will be celebrating after I get off work. Can’t wait for the turkey and mashed potatoes.

    Hoppy Easter,
    Melissa

  28. Jane, thank you, thank you, thank you. My sister found your blog and forwarded it on to me. Thank you for the encouragement and kind words. Does a year still count as being newly single??? My daughter is 16 months and we have pretty much been on our own since she was born (with the exception of my great family and friends who have supported us from the get go!). I have found myself getting discouraged over the holidays trying to make them perfect for her (as if she’s going to remember details at her age!) and all it does is stress me out!

    I know life isn’t horribly bad, we have definitely found some sun spots, but we are also definitely still working on it becoming a more permanent part of our lives!

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences and motivational words.

  29. “sun breaks” ? (haven’t heard of sun spots!) Whatever you call them, nice post. Happy Easter. Too bad there don’t seem to be any in the forecast for today!

  30. This is the first year that I have been a single parent. So just getting into the swing of doing things myself, but at least I have a great family that is there to help whenever I need it.

  31. I really appreciate your attitude, Jane. For years, my husband and I shared custody of the three girls. We had to celibrate at odd times, but it was very traditional still.
    then we had a toddler in the house (a believer!!), and we had to do Santa and the Easter bunney at the “right” times.
    So our time as a big family got less structured, and oddly, more fun.
    Today we threw an ice cream ball (you fill it with cream, sugar etc, then fill the outer chamber with ice nad salt, then throw it for ages while it makes ice cream) with my niece and nephew, and it was so much fun!! We had laready done the big stuff, so we just relaxed and played.
    My son loved it!

  32. Jane,

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. Holidays are the hardest as a single mom. Especially with all the questions that come up and wonders why their holiday is different.

    THANKS!

  33. Hi Jane:
    What an encouraging post and such a testament to your optimistic attitude. I was raised by a single mom who never let me think we had any “less” because my dad wasn’t there. Today my husband had to work the whole day. He seemed so blue to be missing the kids hunting for eggs, it really tugged on my heart. He asked me to video-tape them looking for eggs in the yard (they’re 7 and 10).

    So three cheers for single parents (some single dads carry big loads, too)! Three cheers to you for keeping our eyes to open to all aspects of being a parent and being human!

    Happy Easter!
    Shannon in Tustin

  34. I am not a single mom but my kids are twenty two and eighteen and they don’t care about the holiday time with me and their dad anymore. They would rather spend it with friends. So I had a blue Easter today.

  35. Thanks for your uplifting comments. As a separated, newly single mom it’s nice to hear how others do it.
    Have a great week.

  36. Jane-
    This was a hard post to read. I too have been a single mom for 5 years and there are still times I feel like I haven’t done enough. There are times I think when will I ever catch up on things? There is only one of me and on some days there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Holidays are tough. I want to decorate, bake, have people over, just relax. But I know when all is said and done it is clean up time. I just don’t have it in me to run that marathon. So I end up feeling like I have let my kids down and I miss it too. I hate feeling like I have had to compromise a holiday or event because I just can’t mentally and/or physically face the demands.

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. Holidays may not be all that I would want, but that doesn’t make them any less special. It is what you make of a situation and new traditions can be fun.

    Hope you had a great day with your boys. 7 days and counting! How exciting!

  37. As always, a wonderful post. I’m not a single mom, but I am a step-mom and a lot of what you said here hit home with me. Many of us are in different situations now than what we grew up knowing and it can be challenging. Thank you for always helping us to see the sun spots.
    Kim

  38. So, so true… especially how some married women are technically single come holidays, when all the planning and expectations land on their shoulder. My husband travels alot, does not like holidays (often sits them out at home alone) and it’s difficult sometimes to make everything the way we think they should be. Sometimes you have to look outside the box, stretch the envelope a bit.

    In the end anything is what YOU make of it. You have to look for those sun spots (great analogy).

    Hope you had a wonderful Easter and looking forward to the announcement of the safe, healthy arrival of little Mac.

  39. Dear Jane,

    what an uplifting post! I’m not a single mom, but we are a family without extended family. And what you say above is equally true for that situation. We’ve made our own traditions over the years, and it’s been good. We’ve formed our own extended family of neighbors and colleagues who’ve become friends, and been graced with expected.

    Blessings to you and yours ~

    LynneW

  40. Duh. Somehow my keyboard is not cooperating. I meant to say “we’ve been graced with unexpected levels of support and caring.”

    LynneW
    who is not entering the drawing (with either post!); I just wanted to thank you again for your thoughtful and inspiring words

  41. Thanks for the reminder Jane! for reminding me that it’s all worth i t and that I actually enjoyed having the girls’ growing up days, good and bad and wonderful, all to myself.

  42. Jane
    I always enjoy your blog. What up lifting and encouraging words. Thank you so much for writing! And for your caring & support. Your message does applies to all.
    Make memories, enjoy each day. We have a short time to teach our children, then they grow up.

    Hope you and the boys had a wonderful day! Happy Easter! And you didn’t eat too many peeps!

    Wishing you the Best!
    Especially these next few weeks,
    with baby Mac arriving!

  43. Kudos to you on a very profound post. You go girl!!! It is so great to be independant and then above all, to have someone to share with at times- a friend, a lover, a hubby.

    hope your Easter egg hunt was fun.

  44. A great message for single mom’s, and as usual you know how to make women feel like someone else understands.

    Happy Easter!

  45. Hi Jane,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. The one thing I was get from each blog is the be myself, nothing more and nothing less.

  46. Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

    I salute all the single moms!

    Then there’s the moms like me whose hubbies are sleeping while the “magic” happens of basket making and stocking filling.

  47. Ooops! I accidently hit post! LOL

    Saturday we made pierogie a Polish Tradition. Everyone helped and we had fun and they were yummy! We went to church and came home and ate lunch. My in-laws came and she smothered us with food. And I made dinner…I can’t eat for a week now!

    I did pray for you at church Jane! I saw all the new babies and thought of yours! What a waonderful time for a new baby.

    Happy Spring!
    xoxo,
    Monie

  48. Hello!

    I really enjoyed your posting. I had a great Easter, and I hope that you did. I think that your boys are lucky to have an example of such a strong woman in their lives. You go all out to let them know that they are loved and that women can be independent. That is really cool.

    Christian

  49. Hi Jane

    It´s always fun to read your blog. I had a nice Easter despite I spend the most of it in bed because I caught a cold. But it gave me some time to catch up on my reading.

    Happy Easter.

  50. My friend, Ginny, is a single mom to teenage triplets! She has raised them on her own since they were born and she’s an amazing mom. You and Ginny share a lot of the same sentiments about the holidays being a time for family and starting special “Mom & kids” traditions, so I’m forwarding your post for her to know she’s not alone in being a fantastic single mom!

  51. Hi Jane –
    Thanks for the nice message. It was just me and my mom this year for Easter. The rest of the family is scattered over the west coast. So she and I went to breakfast and then for a drive on this rainy/then sunny Easter Sunday. We just need to have the best Easter we can in spite of our not so perfect circumstances sometimes.
    Have a great week!
    Brenda E.

  52. Hi Jane, I hope you enjoyed your Easter. Your comment was great about single moms. I was raised by a single mom and she was a mother, father and more!! Next year you will have one more little one to hide for and hunt with. Here’s to Easter April 4, 2010!! Have a great week!!

  53. I love the way you write Jane. Your blog is so interesting. It is neat to read of other ways of living. Now I read about your surfer! I’m learning how to blog now although I have 15 filled notebooks that are my journals from 1963, blogging is different. I’m finding it scary to talk about my feelings where everyone can read them. But I want to. I was brave today after seeing Susan Boyle and started writing how I feel. Here is the link to my blog. http://angelsloveyou.blogspot.com/

    I don’t know where I’m going with it but at 73 I have a lot to say. So glad I discovered you 🙂 Jean

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