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Knowing that Christmas and the no man’s land between the 24th December and New Year can be a difficult time for mothers living apart from their children, I’d like to share a few thoughts and coping strategies with you.

Listen to what you really need
Whatever is happening around you, whether it’s busy, too quiet, whether you’re feeling stressed or lonely – try taking some time to be still for a while. Sit and breathe steadily, close your eyes and relax your body. Be aware of any feelings of loss, hurt, anger or other mixed feelings. Ask the part of yourself who takes care of you – your inner wise woman – this question:

“What is the best Christmas present I can give myself?”

Try not to analyse or think to hard about it – listen for an instinctive response.
Perhaps you need to keep busy and involve yourself in helping other people.
Maybe you need time to be out nature, taking in the fresh air – alone or with others.
It could be that the best gift is to pamper yourself in a warm, fragrant bath by candlelight and with soothing music. Or maybe curl up on the sofa with a good book and a box of chocolates.
What you need in the morning might not be what you need at night. There is no wrong or right. Try to release yourself from shoulds and oughts. Trust yourself to know what you need.

If you’re not in contact with your child
If you don’t have contact with your child right now, why not try a symbolic act of remembering her or him and more importantly, to acknowledge the fact that you are the mother of your child? You could light a candle, release some sky lanterns or a helium balloon. Creating and adding to a memory box – a card or memento – can feel painful but try to assure yourself that your tears and painful feelings will pass. The release and sense of being ‘real’ and connected can help you feel better than trying to forget or deny your loss. Above all, be gentle with yourself. All we have is the moment we live in. Painful moments pass and no one knows what the future holds.

If you are in contact with your child
If you have contact with your child this Christmas, why not make a conscious effort to remember ‘good enough’ mothering. This holds true even if some of your children life permanently with you. Over compensating is a trap for mothers apart, whether their children are young or adults. Forget perfection, it doesn’t exist. At this time of giving, remind yourself to give ‘just enough’ – not too little but not too much either. This is goes for both material exchanges (presents) and emotional exchanges. Don’t be driven by guilty feelings to do or give too much. Check in with yourself: Does this feel reasonable? At what point would it start to feel unreasonable to me? Am I trying to buy love or forgiveness? Where is my ‘resentment figure’?

Just love them
No matter how hard your relationship with your child feels right now – just love them – whether they are near or far. Just love them. By so doing, you affirm your status of mother within yourself. ‘Just loving them’ can be a very powerful action as nobody can deny you your ability to love and ultimately, by allowing love to fill our hearts we expand our capacity to love others. You never lose what you give to love.

Wishing you serenity and peace this Christmas time,

Sarah

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Sarah’s new self-help book: A Mother Apart

Support for women

Sarah specialises in counselling and training women. She helps non-resident mothers find inner peace by dealing with guilt, distress and other difficult feelings which can be experienced when living apart from their child. Her self-help book, 'A Mother Apart', published by Crown House, is available now. She also supports business women grow in confidence whilst growing their businesses. To find out more, please visit Sarah Hart's website

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