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For mothers living apart from their children, one of the hardest things about Mother’s Day is it’s inevitability.  It comes without fail, every year, on a Sunday when most of us don’t have to work and at a time of year when spring hasn’t been here long enough to lift any winter blues we might be experiencing. 


Mother’s day can feel inescapable, unavoidable – another ‘should’ day.  The society we live in makes us believe that we should be spoilt by our children, that we’re not a worthy mother unless they do.  Retailers and restaurants make us feel like we should have money spent on us – flowers, chocolates, Sunday lunch – and that the amount our children (and husband) spend on us, is equal to the amount we are loved by them.


As mothers apart our ‘should’ day might translate to:  Our ex or child’s carer should make sure that she/he spends the day with us, our child should give us a present or at the very least, buy or make us a card.  Our child should make a fuss of us or be civil to us or, in some cases, should at least speak to us.


When we focus on what should happen we shift the emphasis from ourselves to external factors.   We hand over our power to other people.  Our happiness is dependent on other peoples’ moods and behaviour.


If you feel you’re heading for a ‘should’ day, how about making this Mother’s Day a ‘could’ day?


A ‘could’ day is one of possibility, a time for you to choose what you do how you do it and with whom (if anyone) you decide to share it with.


Start by reminding yourself that none of us has control over anyone else and that includes our children.  We cannot force our child to stay with us this weekend or visit us on Sunday.  We cannot make them phone, text, chat to or email us.  


Then think about what you could do on Sunday.  Here are some ‘I coulds’ to get you thinking or planning:


I could…

 plan something in advance so that I know exactly what I’m doing, who I’m seeing, what I’m going to wear and what I’m going to eat on Mother’s day.  I could also plan to change my mind, if I felt like it.


I could…

 wake up on Mother’s Day and be completely spontaneous and give myself permission to do anything I feel like, taking each moment as it comes.


I could…

go shopping for my spring/summer wardrobe.  Whether I buy a pair of killer heels or soft, leather sandals, a flowing dress, harem trousers or sharp tailoring, I will buy what pleases me and makes me feel great.


I could…

ask someone who cares about me to give me a hug and hold me until I want to let go.

I could…

make a delicious meal and eat it slowly and savour every bite.


I could…

go to a park or for a country stroll and see the new growth – daffodils, crocus  and wood anemones – or ride a bike along a canal tow path or a walk on a beach.


I could…

 allow myself to cry freely without fear or judgement, without listening to any critical internal voice that says “Don’t be self pitying”, or “You don’t deserve any better”,  and then make myself a warm drink and sit quietly until I feel calm again.  (One condition for this one:  Please think about getting some counselling if you are frightened by your feelings or if you know that you are very judgemental of yourself).


I could…

plan a duvet day with a good book or the Sunday papers or a pile of magazines or all three.


I could…

 just for today, let others be themselves, make their own choices, knowing that they are on their own life journey.


I could…

light a candle to symbolise the fact that I am a mother, a rite of passage that no one can take away from me.


Mother’s day is for mothers.  Please remember that you are a mother whether or not you’re in contact with your child, no matter what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. 


Whatever you decide to do, please bear in mind that Mother’s Day will pass, like all days. 


I hope that a ‘should’ day becomes a ‘could’ day for you.


Wishing you serenity and joy this spring.


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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