Why I’m Spending Mother’s Day Without My Child

Disclaimer: I love my daughter. I love everything about her, from the tiny little freckle on the back of her neck to the way she jumps up and down and squeals with delight when a friend comes over to play.  She is eight years old, highly sensitive, and her insights on life stop me in my tracks on the daily. She is at that magic age—she wants to ride her bike alone but stay close enough to run inside with tear-stained cheeks when she scrapes her knee and needs mama to treat it with a band aid and a kiss.

Ok, now that you know how I feel about the whole motherhood thing, let’s get real up in here.

I waited a long time to be a mother, and motherhood has brought me immeasurable happiness and fulfillment. But can I get a ‘heck yeah!’ if you can relate to the feeling that motherhood is sometimes all-consuming? Meal prep, bedtime, backpacks, sick days, doctor’s appointments, after-school activity schedules, pick-up, drop-off, daycare. . .the list goes on.

More than all that stuff, however, is the constant feeling that you are on duty all of the time. Now, I have a fantastic partner. He’s a gem and a wonderful father, but my daughter will walk into the next room to find me to open the jar of applesauce when my husband is sitting right beside her. My husband commented the other night when I fell into bed at 10:00 p.m. that it was the first time I’d stopped moving all night. Yeah. I know. Did I mention that I have just one child? I cannot even imagine doing this times two or more!

This is why I am going to spend Mother’s Day without my child.

mother's day alone without kids

We have holidays in this country where we don’t have to do the thing we are celebrating. For example, lots of people get time off from their jobs on Labor Day. On Mother’s Day, however, we are expected to not only celebrate being a mother, but to still do all the accompanying work. Sometimes this special day will also include your partner’s kind gesture of booking a brunch reservation so you don’t have to cook. With the gift of Mother’s Day brunch, you get the added bonus of having to dress up your kids, take them out in public, and juggle plates while not really enjoying your meal. On the flip side is maybe that scenario where you don’t have a great partner. Or you’re a single mom, so you’re doing it all every day and Mother’s Day is no exception. Shout out to you, mama.

With the gift of Mother’s Day brunch, you get the added bonus of having to dress up your kids, take them out in public, and juggle plates while not really enjoying your meal.

I also have a little bit of a beef with these ‘Hallmark Holidays,’ as we call them in my house. My husband and I celebrate “Un-Valentine’s Day” by going out to celebrate the day before Valentine’s Day and by doing little acts of kindness and love any old day we please. Mother’s and Father’s Day falls in this same category for us. We celebrate our mothers with flowers and brunch because it’s tradition and it means a lot to them, but I’m also ok with being honored any time the mood strikes my partner and my kid. With chocolate.

So, this year, when a group of my oldest and dearest girlfriends planned a reunion back home, it turned out that Mother’s Day was the only weekend that worked for all. And we didn’t even flinch. In fact, I felt a collective fist pump across the miles with the thought of spending that day sans kids.

I cashed in some airline miles and booked my flight before you could say, ‘Goodnight Moon.’

Some of you have already cried ‘Blasphemy!’ as you read this, because you look forward to Mother’s Day every year. The sweet little faces bringing you breakfast in bed. The cards and flowers or handmade crafts. The delicious brunch that you actually do enjoy because your kiddos are older. Or, the fact that your college-aged kids come home for the weekend to show you they care. Hey, that’s awesome! You should celebrate however you wish and make sure you focus on you. Take 30 minutes for a solo Starbucks run. Leave the dishes and read a book instead. Take a nap with the little ones because you can. Soak your feet and paint your toenails red.

mother's day alone without kids

As for me and my mama friends, we’re going to celebrate Mother’s Day, too. After all, it’s not like we’ll forget that we’re moms for a day, or that we don’t love our kids, because we do. Deeply. But we’re going to celebrate it a’ la Labor Day and take the day off of mothering. We are going to spend the weekend making spicy food, eating chocolate, waking up with a full cup of coffee that we will enjoy while it’s still hot, drinking wine without watching where we set our glass, laughing until we pee our pants (which won’t take much, because, motherhood), and generally celebrating our bad mama selves.

We’ll also talk about our kids a lot, share photos of their latest stages, talk about their struggles and glean the collective wisdom from the group, and repeat funny things they say, because that is part of our identity and we all love each other’s kids like our own. It will just be uninterrupted conversation, because we won’t have to stop and open jars of applesauce. 

mother's day alone without kids

How will you celebrate the mothers in your life this weekend?


Sherri is a transplant from Oregon who came to be a Hawkeye in 2006 and stayed for the sweet corn...and for the Iowa boy she met along the way! She and her husband (Kyle) have a 9 year-old daughter, Aissa. Sherri earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at The University of Iowa and works for Ruffalo Noel Levitz as an Enrollment Marketing Consultant for colleges and universities. When she's not working, you can find her with her family, enjoying Iowa City and cheering on the Hawkeyes.



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