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!
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.