What Mother's Day means to me as a single mum

<i></i>
 Photo: Getty Images

Do you remember your first Mother's Day? I don't. I mean, it was 17 years ago, and quite frankly I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast today.

But I do remember that it was important to me. I wanted to feel appreciated for my hard work. I wanted to feel celebrated, like the mums in the commercials! I wanted presents and flowers and breakfast in bed and a card outlining how cherished I was.

Of course, my son wasn't even a year old at the time, so he couldn't do any of that. He was a smart kid, but not even he was writing at 11 months. It was a job for my husband, of course. He bought me the flowers and wrote the card and made me breakfast in bed. I can almost guarantee he didn't use the word 'cherish', though – that really wasn't his style.

Because that's what Mother's Day is about, when you're married. Your partner showing his appreciation.

As my kids got older, they participated in the process. They made cards and helped their dad make the breakfast, and took his money to school to buy those crappy $5 gifts. You know, candles and eye masks and candles and nail kits and more candles.

But it was all under their father's supervision. And the lavishness of the breakfast and the quality of the gifts depended on his direction and guidance.

So what does Mother's Day look like now that I'm divorced? And what does it look like for all the single mothers out there?

Well, it's no longer about my (ex) husband. It is solely about my kids. The extent of my Mother's Day celebrations depends entirely on the effort they put into it.

My big kids generally take themselves to the shops and buy me gifts. Sometimes the gifts are fabulous. Sometimes they are … thoughtful. But I don't care. I imagine them picking up an item, turning it over in their hands, wondering "Would Mum like this?" and buying it with their own money, and I get teary eyed. I mean, it was lovely when my husband bought me something, but when my kids do, it cranks it up to a different notch of happiness.

Advertisement

My little one isn't quite ready to part with her own cash. She takes money from my purse to buy me a present from the school stall, and is as excited as the big kids are generous. And then she drops all sorts of hints about the gift until Sunday rolls around. (Spoiler alert: it's a candle.)

On Mother's Day itself, the three of them work together to make me breakfast in bed. I use the word 'work together' loosely – I am generally woken rather early by the sounds of them debating who should toast the bread and who should cut the fruit and whether I like two sweeteners in my cappuccino or one. And really, I can't even taste the food (generally because my youngest eats it before I can get to it), but it is all delightful. And if the coffee is too sweet I gulp it down anyway and wash it down later with another.

Mother's Day was great when I was married, but it's different now. It's sweeter (and not just the coffee). It is more poignant for me, because it is all about my kids and me. It is not about anyone else. I look forward to it, and I savour it.

And besides, you can never have too many candles. Am I right?