Celebrating Mother's Day, Minus the Mom
Not everyone has a mother and a father, but everyone has to deal with Mother's Day and Father's Day. They're there on the calendar, everyone else is celebrating them, and you're bound to see a million commercials about them. So if your family has two dads (like mine), two moms or a single parent, what are you supposed to do?
Sure, you could just ignore one holiday or the other: "Sorry, honey, today doesn't apply to us." But then your kids could feel left out when everyone else is painting their "World's Greatest ____" mugs at school or going out for ice cream. I'm a strong believer in celebrating every occasion you possibly can. Go out for brunch, get a cake, buy presents. It's fun! And why should anyone feel left out just because their family is a little bit different?
Mother's Day and Father's Day are great opportunities to celebrate your non-traditional family, if you can just work around those official titles one way or another. There isn't one solution that's going to work for everyone, but here are some suggestions. Hopefully there's one here that will inspire you.
- Celebrate someone else. There's no mother in our family, but we don't want our kids to feel left out on Mother's Day. So in my family, we celebrate Surrogate and Egg Donor's Day. We're very open with our kids about how they were created, and we've stayed close to both their surrogate and their egg donor, who each had a very special role in bringing them into the world. (We actually celebrate it the day before Mother's Day, so that our surrogate and egg donor, both moms themselves, can still have their special day with their own families.)
Our situation obviously doesn't apply to everyone, but I'd guess every family has someone worth dedicating a special day to. Instead of Mother's or Father's Day, you could have a Grandma's Day or an Uncle Joey's Day or a Nice Lady Next Door's Day.
- Celebrate the concept. We don't have a mother in our house, but I don't want "mother" to be a dirty word. Moms are great, and I want my kids to know that, especially since my daughter might want to become a mom herself someday. So just because you don't have a mother or a father in your immediate family doesn't mean you can't spend the day celebrating the other mothers or fathers you know. My partner and I both honor our own moms on Mother's Day, and our kids get to take part in that.
- Ignore the holiday names and just give each parent their own day. The intent behind Mother's Day and Father's Day is to give each parent a special day to honor them. So if you have two moms or two dads, just give them each one of the holidays and change the name. Instead of Mother's and Father's Day, you can celebrate Daddy's Day and Papa's Day, or Mommy's Day and Mama's Day, or Silly Mommy's Day and Brown-Haired Mommy's Day. As long as everyone gets a turn to feel special, you're living up to the spirit of the event. (Just remember to buy that second Mother's Day card before they take them off the shelves in mid-May.)
- Get greedy – take both days! You might think if you're a single parent that you only get to celebrate one parent holiday or the other. Wrong! If you're raising kids all by yourself, then in my opinion, you get both days. Congratulations. You're pretty much pulling double duty at parenting, so have a Mother's Day and a Single Mother's Day. Or a Father's Day and Father's Day #2. Your kids should know Mommy or Daddy is an extra-special parent, so have them celebrate you twice. You've earned it. Feel free to show them this column and tell them I said so.
Of course, if you're widowed and you want to keep the other holiday to honor someone who's no longer with you, that's great, too.
- Add another day. What if your family has more than two parents? Say there's a stepparent or... well, whatever. I'm not here to judge. Maybe you need more than Mother's Day and Father's Day. You can celebrate both Mom and Stepmom on Mother's Day (which is what I do, personally), or you can give that extra parent a third day. Just let them know you're doing it because you think they deserve their own day and you want to have enough time to treat them special, too. Then Dad gets Father's Day and Stepdad gets the first Sunday in July. (Try to keep it on the same day every year, if possible, and as close to the actual holiday as you can. If nothing else, it makes gift-buying easier.)
Are there any other non-traditional families out there who've come up with their own solutions? Let us know in the comments how you celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day in your own special way.