Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and women everywhere are preparing to be spoiled by their kids and partners. They may even be planning on spoiling their own mothers (and mothers-in-law). Reservations will be made. Breakfasts in bed will be served. And presents, both those crafted by little hands and those picked out in jewelry stores, will be presented with love and giddy excitement.

But remember, all of that fun only applies to those mothers out there with partners to orchestrate the fun, or older kids who are used to taking charge of celebrating such holidays.

Single mothers will experience a different kind of day. Especially single mothers with kids under the age of 10.

The reality

Single moms will get up at the crack of dawn with their kids, just like any other day, and work their way into the kitchen. They’ll not only make breakfast for themselves, but also for their little ones. Their kids may not be aware it’s a special day. And even if they somehow know that Mother’s Day is a thing, they won’t know it’s their responsibility to celebrate it — and their mothers wouldn’t ever want them to have that pressure.

So, there will be no presents. No reservations. No days at the spa or being waited on hand and foot. There might not even be a single “Happy Mother’s Day!” thrown their way. For single mothers with young kids, Mother’s Day is just any other day. Except on this day, their Facebook feeds will be flooded with their friends’ posts bragging about how spoiled they’ve been.

Meanwhile, the single mother is probably just throwing in another load of laundry. Not angry or hurt or even all that jealous, because she knows what to expect from this day. She realizes it’s not really going to be about her. And that’s OK.

Mother’s day at our house

I know all this to be true, because I’ve been that single mother these last four Mother’s Days.

My daughter was, and is, the very best thing to ever happen to me. But at 4 years old, she still has no idea what Mother’s Day is. And because I adopted her on my own, there’s no second parental figure waiting in the wings to show her.

All of this is OK, though. Truth be told, before she came into my life, I spent a lot of Mother’s Days being downright miserable. All of my friends had kids, and I was worried I never would. This day was a painful reminder of everything I didn’t have.

Now, even though it’s far from being all about me, it’s at least a day where I am reminded of how lucky I am to have this little girl in my life.

At our house, no one is letting me sleep in. My daughter will be jumping to wake me up bright and early, just like any other day. She doesn’t yet know to even wish me a happy Mother’s Day unless I tell her, which I won’t. I’ll still be solely responsible for wiping her butt and helping her blow her nose. I’ll be the one in charge of serving up all our meals. No one will be rushing to tell me to sit down and relax.

Celebrating being a mother

I’m not complaining, though. I’ll have my little girl with me. Maybe we’ll do something fun, like go to the zoo or take off on a mini-road trip. She won’t know to make the day special, but that doesn’t mean I can’t. She won’t know to spoil me, but I may still want to spoil her. If nothing else, Mother’s Day is a day when I can’t help but reflect on how happy I am to at least be included in that group of women who should be celebrated.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you’re a single mom who knows that no one is going to be spoiling you on Mother’s Day, but who still feels thankful to be a mother at all. Or perhaps you do have that growing sense of jealousy. Maybe it wasn’t always this way for you, which makes getting through this day a little harder — it’s a reminder of the family that, in your mind, is no longer whole.

That’s OK, too.

Bottom line

The thing about a single mother’s Mother’s Day is that there is no one dictating how you should feel. It’s OK to be a little bit sad as you watch your friends post about their amazing days on social media. It’s OK to feel a little ripped off when your kids don’t even know to give you a hug and tell you they love you, let alone present you with breakfast in bed and the opportunity to relax.

It’s OK to feel whatever you’re going to feel, because the honest truth is, Mother’s Day isn’t really designed to celebrate the single mother. If you have young kids, it probably won’t be about you for at least a few more years, until your kids are old enough to know it’s a day at all and to want to spoil you.

So, maybe until that day comes, it’s OK for you to spoil yourself a little on Mother’s Day. Even if that simply means ordering takeout so that you don’t have to cook. If anyone deserves that luxury on Mother’s Day, it’s most certainly you.

Here are some of my ideas and tips for how to spend Mother’s Day if you’re a single mom:

Fun tips

  • Order takeout so you don’t have to cook or clean up!
  • Plan a special trip or outing for you and the kids.
  • Buy yourself flowers or your favorite sweets, just because you deserve it.
  • Spend the day volunteering with your kids where you’ll do something nice for others.
  • Team up with other single-mom friends or friends who don’t have kids yet and plan a special meal or group trip together.
  • Avoid social media for a few days if it upsets you!

Leah Campbell is a writer and editor living in Anchorage, Alaska. A single mother by choice after a serendipitous series of events led to the adoption of her daughter, Leah is also author of the book Single Infertile Female and has written extensively on the topics of infertility, adoption and parenting. You can connect with Leah at her personal website ( on twitter (@sifinalaska), and Facebook.