It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday (or Mothering Sunday, if my Mum is reading this). If it’s anything like Father’s Day in this house, it will mean you mums will be getting woken up at way-too-early o’clock, while smiling faces hand you undercooked egg on bread, and a home-made card. #HappyDays.
Here at OnlyDads, we wish ALL mums a happy day – for those spending the day on their own, you will enjoy what our solicitor friend, Candace has to say…
…For many mums Mother’s Day approaches with a sense of anticipation and delight. Conventionally it’s a day where traditional roles are reversed and the carers have a chance to themselves be looked after and nurtured. Breakfast in bed, flowers, gifts, chocolates and the prospect of putting your feet up and being waited on for the day. Well, that’s in theory at least! It might not always happen like that and you might end up in the kitchen cooking the dinner anyway but rest and relaxation and a demonstration of how special you are is what Mother’s Days is supposed to be about.
However where parents have separated or divorced things can be very different as there is no parent to help the children make the day special. Single mothers can dread Mother’s Day looming. As a single mum of two myself, Mother’s Day can be pretty interesting. In the past when the children were younger I didn’t give the day much thought, thinking I wouldn’t be that fussed if I didn’t receive anything and that a kiss and a hug was sufficient. Who was I kidding? That noble conviction didn’t hold water long when the day actually arrived and huge bouquets of flowers and gifts would start arriving for the other mums in my family. (My sister has a fantastic partner who spoils her rotten and I can be forgiven surely for feeling a bit depressed when she receives yet another lovely present or surprise trip abroad).
This year things will be different! My children are a bit older now and I duly packed them off to school earlier this week each clutching a signed permission slip and £2.50 for their school bought Mother’s Day present. So in effect I paid for my own Mother’s Day present and I will receive identical gifts from both of them (must remember to act surprised and grateful twice!) but the point is their gift will be given and received with love and they will feel very proud of themselves.
But there is a very real point about my musings. In ideal situations separated parents manage to co-parent effectively meaning Dads approach Mother’s Day with consideration and forward planning and will help the children to celebrate by making or buying gifts for Mother’s Day (and equally mothers should do this for Father’s Day!). This is very important for the children and shows that Dad respects the children’s relationship with you, even if there is still a lot of anger and resentment between you both. However, there may be some cases where Dad either doesn’t want to or is an absentee parent. In some cases where parents are separated or divorced Mother’s Day can fall on a father’s contact weekend. What then? Communication is the key.
It is probably best to approach your ex with respect, stating your position by saying something like, “Mother’s Day is coming up in three weeks. The kids are scheduled to be with you and I would like to have some time with them. My request would be to have the children for Sunday morning. If you could help them with a card and gift, I would really appreciate that and I would be happy to reciprocate for Father’s Day.”
It can be hard to reject such a request made in such a reasonable way. However in situations where Dad is not agreeable then this is often a symptom of a much bigger problem where the parties cannot agree contact matters generally. In such situations you could consider mediation as a means of helping you reach agreement, or you may even need legal advice. Legal advice can help you consider your options and arrive at a long-term solution.
As for me? Well I will love whatever my children give me because I know that my job as a mum is the most important job in the world. In time and as the children get older maybe the gifts will get more sophisticated and I won’t have to pay for them. Who knows? Here’s hoping!
Candace Benjamin is a solicitor in the Children’s Law department at Fisher Meredith. Candace regularly advises clients on a broad range of children matters including contact and residence disputes and domestic violence cases.