There are a lot of different feelings that can come from Mother’s Day. Many make it a celebratory holiday, but as military or first responder loved ones that can prove to be difficult some years. Whether it is because of a deployment or unfortunate shift, we Waiting Warriors find ourselves flying solo on many holidays. This puts us in the never ending predicament: are we going to succumb the the natural response to sulk, be sad, and look around with tears in our eyes as our friends and family are showered with love and admiration while our day is less eventful? Or are we going to stand up and take charge of the day?
Of course none of us want to feel helpless and sad, but how do we keep ourselves from falling when we have such little control? Well, we take control of what we do have! Here are 3 ways every solo military or first responder loved one can still have a good Mother’s Day.
1. Be open and honest about your hopes and expectations.
You know it’s coming, you also know he’ll be gone, and that’s when the dreams begin. “It would be so cute if he got the kids together before he left and did…,” or “Maybe I’ll come home from church and flowers will be delivered that he ordered…,” or “I’m sure he’ll write a heartfelt letter of how he feels and send it in time for me to read on the holiday…”
All of those are completely understandable and fair desires for a loved one and mother to have, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. Just because your loved one is a first responder or in the military does not mean you have to let go of all expectations and deprive yourself of celebration. But you have to voice those expectations.
If you want him to order flowers online and have them delivered, tell him. If you’d like him to spend time with the kids and make something heartfelt for you, tell him. He’s not going to forget Mother’s Day because he doesn’t love you or you aren’t the most important thing to him. If he forgets Mother’s Day it’s because he’s on the other side of the country and might not be looking at a calendar with US holidays on it every day like you. If he forgets it might be because he’s had a terrible shift and he’s putting a lot of effort into not bringing trauma home to you and the kids.
Most importantly, as amazing as your Warrior is, humans aren’t mind readers, especially not humans on the other side of the world fighting wars. By voicing your hopes and expectations you are taking control.
2. Turn outwards and treat special moms around you.
During our first year being married my husband enlisted and went to Basic Training. I stayed +up at college, pregnant, and far away from family. One of my older sisters gave me sound advice: Every Sunday at church find someone who needs an extra set of hands with their kids, or looks down and could use a friend. Serve them and you’ll see how much service fills you up.
Solid advice, but it is advice I stubbornly and naively ignored for that first separation. Instead I always sat in an empty bench almost every week and looked around at everyone else with their loved ones. I let myself sulk. I let myself believe that this season of time had to be one of loneliness and heartache. Now I know so much better. Service really will fill you up, no matter how lonely or sad you feel.
So if it’s too late for your loved one to fulfill one of your dream scenarios, it’s not too late for you to turn outward and help fill someone else’s Mother’s Day with love. Write a note, buy some flowers, make a card, bake some cookies, write a funny poem, then deliver it to a wonderful mother. It doesn’t have to be a long strenuous thing, just some time to celebrate someone. By spending your time and energy trying to uplift others you are filling your heart and taking control.
3. Buy yourself the flowers.
I say this with all the love in the world: BUY YOURSELF THE FLOWERS, or chocolate, or pedicure, or new outfit, or the meal at your favorite restaurant. Stop looking at them at the store wishing he were there to buy them for you. Stop wishing someone was there to surprise you with dinner. Stop, stop, stop. Stop letting yourself sink into a victim mentality, because lady, you’re no victim! You’re a warrior!
We could all use a little note from Tom Haverford in Parks and Rec:
It’s ok to cry today because you miss them, I miss my Soldier too. I’m crying too. But we can still celebrate and find ways to have a wonderful Mother’s Day! There’s no point in wallowing today just because things aren’t being done “traditionally.” Yes, it would be amazing if your loved one could be with you, but while there’s nothing that can be done about that situation, there is something that can be done about how we approach the day. Take control. It can still be a good day. You can still be treated, celebrated and pampered, and there’s no shame if you are the one paying this year!
Happy Mother’s Day fellow Waiting Warriors. <3
By Michelle Bowler