Mother's Day After Divorce
How to Cope With Mother's Day When Your Parents are Divorced?
Dear April Masini,
My parents are divorced, and Mother's Day is always a dilemma for me because I have my mother, and the woman my dad married, my step-mother, both vying for my attention. Do you have any advice on how I can handle this situation?"
Signed, Mom's The Word
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Mom's The Word,
Don't worry. Help is on the way! Mother's Day is supposed to be flowers and perfume and brunch with the family - if your whole world is one big Hallmark card store! But the truth is that Mother's Day can be fraught with tension because of different dynamics between mom and the rest of the family... especially at Mother's Day.
It's no secret that divorce is now part of American families, which means many children (no matter if they're nine or thirty-nine), have more than one mom. Okay, so the mom's aren't all "weighted" equally, but there's possibly: mom, grandma, mother in law, step mother in law, step mom(s), step grandma, etc. It's a mom-fest!
So, here are a few Dos and Don'ts for Mother's Day:
Operation Multiple Mom Strategy: Make a list of all the moms in your life so you can figure out whom you want to take care of, and how. ◦
One Big Party: If you have a lot of moms on your list, and you don't have enough time in your day to visit all of them, you can host a mother's day luncheon at a restaurant or a barbecue or tea in your own home - depending on your style. If you have a lot of kids and/or a heavy work schedule, reserving a big table at a restaurant will save you lots of energy and time that you may not have. If your budget is tight, host a meal at your home, and enlist your siblings to bring different food dishes or beverages to help out.
Send invitations to the lunch to make mom feel extra special. You can buy personalized invitations, store-bought fill in invitations, make invitations on your computer, or have the youngest members of the family make them. Whatever you choose, sending invites out a few weeks ahead of time will make the event extra special.
Personalize the event with photos of mom in frames, lockets, or jewelry boxes as gifts. Moms love family photos, and having them as decorations or gifts is really terrific.
Want entertainment? Throw a slide show. A little computer magic makes pulling together a slide show on a DVD easy, and most restaurants will give you a private room for your slide show, if you have enough guests, or you can play your home movie on a white wall at home.
When Mom isn't around: If your mom has passed on, remember her with a special trip to the cemetery and even a family ritual that involves a graveside tradition with a few prayers, flowers, a lunch afterwards - whatever is comfortable for you.
Moms without children: If you know a mom without children - either alive or nearby, who are going to be alone on Mother's Day, remember them with a card, a plate of homemade cookies, or a bunch of flowers. Think about any child-less mom's in your neighborhood, your office or any other part of your community.
No Mom Left Behind: Don't leave any mom out. It's better to cover too many moms with cards, at the very least, than to forget them. Snubbing mom because you had a fight, or because she's your step mom and not your bio-mom, is not okay. Bad manners are not acceptable. Even if it pains you, grit your teeth, and send a card - at the very least. When in doubt - send it out. On time.
No Gift Ruts: Don't send the same old, same old. You know how Dad has too many ties from all those Father's Day neckwear onslaughts? Well, mom is expecting the same old same old perfume or flowers. So, shake it up a little with something unusual (See how to choose and order great gifts, easily), like gardening tools, a gift certificate for a massage or a day of beauty, or some beautiful lingerie to remind her that she's not just a mom ? She's a woman!
Forgive and Forget: Don't let old fights fester. Unless there is abuse involved - try practicing these three fight-busters: ◦ Apologize for something. And mean it. Be committed to letting go of any negative feelings associated with this incident - whatever it is. Really listen to what she has to say - or if she has nothing to say about it, be okay with that. Tell her what upset you, and why you're going to let it go, and how you're going to do it. Then do it!
Do something unexpected that is above and beyond the call of duty. For example. If you can afford it, buy your mom a car. Paint her living room for her. Clean her garage. Wash her car - inside and out - and have it painted or put in a new CD player for her. ◦ Ask her to tell you about her marriage. Or her relationship with her mother. Crack a bottle of wine - or sherry, if it's her cup of tea - or tea or coffee for that matter, and sit down for a few hours, and listen. Ask questions, and don't leave until you understand why her background - for better or for worse - played a part in whatever fight the two of you had.
When divorce affects your mother: One look at the hit show Gilmore Girls -- or even its PG-13 rated cable TV clone, Gastineau Girls - and you'll realize what television producers are capitalizing on is true -- there is a special bond between mothers and daughters -- especially with divorce infiltrating our families as it has. Many times mothers are un-partnered due to divorce (Read about what some parents without partners are doing.) and while the ravages of divorce on family are spouted often and loudly, the upside of divorce is closer bonds between mothers and children -- and sometimes even fathers and children. If mom takes care of herself, or gets around to taking care of herself when she’s emotionally healed from the split, she will be modeling well for her daughter, and there is often a much stronger bond that develops than if the parents were not divorced.
Compared to the competition: Another upside to mothers and daughters in divorce situations is that more often than not, dad gets a new girlfriend (read more about blended families) or wife more quickly than mom even gets around to dating. The new girlfriend or stepmother may or may not be preferable to bio-mom, but in most cases, the new woman in the daughter’s life either causes bio-mom to put on her good behavior (if she hasn’t been), and help her evolve into the preferable mom, or, the daughter may just appreciate mom a lot more when she sees what the competition looks like!
All for one and one for all - when Dad's not around: The reason that this positive mother/daughter relationship works is because mom is not closely partnered with dad in traditional families where the father is at the office or working for long hours, while mom raises the kids and oversees the house - or in cases of divorce, when mom no longer has the support system she did when married, and needs to rely on her kids’ help, or company, which can bring about appreciation, enjoyment of each other, and gratefulness for each other.