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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Greetings from Chez Chump, where we’re still unpacking boxes and Mr. CL is unfortunately under the weather. But my son is here and we’re doing low-key things. (He set up the internet and mansplained routers.) Thinking of CN and all the mighty single parents out there. A column I rerun on Mom’s Day. Hugs if you’re missing your mom, didn’t have a mom, are being a mom substitute, or are just slogging through the Sane Parent life. Corsages for everyone! — Tracy


I was a single mom for most of my son’s childhood, and I have to confess to you as hokey and shameful as this is — every Mother’s Day I coveted one of those orchid wrist corsages like you get at prom. I wanted to be Matriarch for a day, surrounded by my well-dressed family at an ostentatious, over-priced Sunday brunch. But what I really wanted most of all was what most mothers want on Mother’s Day: recognition for a job well done.

Single mothers don’t get much of that. Putting aside how vilified single mothers can be in the culture, when your kids are young, they tend to be short on perspective. You’re only as good as your last mac n’ cheese dinner. If it weren’t for the prompting of teachers crafting Mother’s Day cards, the day would go by unnoticed for many of us.

My son would make me a card at school each year and I treasured and kept every single one. Every gift — the button and pipecleaner bracelet, the photograph of a horse (I like horses, he always remembers), the mosaic trivet he made in art class. He’s a super kid. But for most of his life there was no man around honoring his mom on Mother’s Day. I divorced his dad when he was four (and we never celebrated the holiday much when we were together; my ex neither honored his mother or myself).

But kind of like Valentine’s Day can remind single people how single they are, Mother’s Day has a way of making single moms feel quite alone. It’s often seen as a celebration of the traditional nuclear family. Of the legacy that comes from being partnered, of having a spouse say, “Wow, I’m so happy we made these kids together.”

When I was a child, Mother’s Day was always spent with four generations of women — my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and aunt, at an after-church luncheon at the Village Women’s Club outside Detroit. The men would be in suits, my grandfather would hold court. (He loved nothing more than to be surrounded by his family suffering the discomforts of formal dress attire). From my child’s perspective it was interminable. Adults having cocktails. Children staving off their hunger with dry breadsticks. Fidgeting. Reprimands. At last dining. And then, if you were lucky, breaking free to run across the daffodil gardens outside, where it was still early spring.

It was conveyed to me was that this was a day of importance. It was an occasion to honor your mother, that had the gravitas of formality, of obligation and ritual.

Fast forward 25 years to being a single mother in my mid-30s. I would’ve settled for a flipped pancake and a hug.

Single mothers work so damn hard, they deserve all the honor we can give them. I know single dads work hard too — but today I’m talking to the single moms out there — you rock. I admire you immensely.

I blog about infidelity, and every day, women write to me who were cheated on while pregnant, whose husbands walked out on them with infants, small children, walked out on their teenage kids and never called again, stay-at-home moms who find themselves trying to find work again with less than baseline child support and big gap in their resumes — heart breaking stories. And yet, they get up every day and do the hard work of raising kids on their own. Either entirely by themselves, or carrying the majority of the parenting weight. (And before the father’s rights people comment — they don’t do this by choice — but because men still exist who abandon their families.)

Single moms are mighty — and they deserve more than a bouquet of flowers and a nice breakfast — they deserve our respect. If you know a single mom, take a moment to tell her how much you admire the hard work she’s doing. Babysit her kids for an hour or two. Cook a dinner. Fete her with brunch. Sit with her children help them make her card. Do not let this day go unnoticed. This is a day of importance. It is an occasion.

It’s over a decade since I was that single mom with a preschooler. I’ve been remarried for going on three years. (editor’s note: 12 years now!)  I don’t have children with my husband — we have a blended family of three young men. The first Mother’s Day we were together, my husband got me flowers. He wrapped lovely, thoughtful presents. He brought me coffee in bed.

Later that day, he put on a pressed shirt (he hates all things dry-clean), he made my son put on a pressed shirt, and my step-son put on a pressed shirt — and then three handsome men took me out to brunch.

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  • My ex never celebrated me on Mothers Day either ,saying i wasn’t his mother( not that he celebrated her either). These men just burn me—they are the ones that need to teach their children to celebrate and honour their mother. My grown children are now wonderful, honouring me every year. Thank you to the wonderful teachers who taught them this.

    • Oh, NewLady. All those years that I too heard “You’re not my mother.” (If I ever date again, I’ll be certain to consider how he honors his female relatives.). I’m so very happy that your children celebrate you!

    • That’s exactly what my FW did. Now he kisses his GF’s ass, trying to get our daughter to treat her with the respect he never expected her to give me. Today I wake up with my amazing new husband, and my daughter is here too. Life is good!

    • Ugh…my kids father also used the “you’re not my mother” thing to do nothing for me.

      He wasn’t the cheater….that was husband #2….but he was still a nasty prick. He’s the reason I ignored red flags and married the cheater.

      My bf of several years gets me flowers along with the flowers he gets his mother and he doesn’t even have any kids. The difference is that he values the women in his life.

        • A total asshole move that I thought I was privileged to until I read your blog years ago. Thank you! That day is burned into me on a cellular level and I wish I’d never shared it with my DD but it was the truth and I was at the verbal vomit stage.
          My absolute best Mother’s Days have been after I left. No expectations and I love my kids. My text after a visit today was that I took a nap from the exhaustion of giving birth 23 yrs ago. I hope it got a laugh. We all have a life now.

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all. I was with my mother last night, who is home with hospice comfort care. She raised 3 children on her own and when I moved out she decided to go to college at 48 to get a degree in childhood education. Up until December 2020 she was active and so loving to everyone she met. Pray for us that we help her navigate her journey to going to heaven. Life is still great! My mom still smiles seeing all 3 of kids, grandkids and great grandkids. She is our rock! I truly don’t know how she does it, to me, she is a super woman! Just sending my love to all Mothers ( and fathers) on this beautiful Mother’s Day xo You rock!

    • Our best to you SweetChumpgirl. Kudos to you for giving your mom what she likely wanted most…your time when she has little of it. I hope you have a mind and heart fill of memories of her mightiness. Please pardon me for envying you for ever having a rock of a mom (mine is a personality disordered alcoholic). You are crushing it under hard circumstances which is what we chumps do. Love to you from us all

  • I cried reading Tracy’s story of her current husband’s cherishing actions. It’s what all all mothers deserve and don’t often receive. I will cherish being able to be a mom to my one and only daughter (after seven previous losses) forever and would not change that. I focus on that and not the raw dog cheating fuckwit who fathered random unsupported innocents with rando whores. Now, he doesn’t have contact with his daughter or other offspring just like he didn’t honor his mother, sisters, girlfriends, wife. I do believe they are misogynistic creeps. I try to set a good example for her, but I cannot trust men and never intend to again. Moms rock the world.

  • I woke to a very sweet dollar store card from my lovable thrifty partner. His grown daughter sent me flowers. I plan to see daughter for lunch today. What I dont expect is any interaction from my grown sons…very sadly, they watched the example of their dad in discounting my presence in their lives and they are also rather goofy. I will appreciate my half filled glass and think of the moms who are really struggling today.

    For any chumps out there still struggling with deciding and truly wanting to do what is best for their kids…take a page from my history and consider that staying can do more damage than leaving.

    Love to all

    • My biggest wish for you is they finally see who their father truly is and come back to you with loving arms. You didn’t know better until you knew better and left. Children often stick with their own internal dialog “he wanted to be happy” “why didn’t you leave” etc. because they don’t yet understand and comprehend the layers that go into a marriage. I wish you peace and calm in the storm. They will come around and when they do you will be there to embrace them. Xo nothing but love for you truly! Xo Sweet

    • My 17 year old son has ignored my birthday (I asked him to go to dinner days before, and reminded him day before and morning of) by refusing to get off his video game.

      Today he refused to get out of bed until 11:30. Same story, I asked him what he had planned earlier in the week, he didn’t have plans, I suggested going to breakfast, reminded him last night.

      I am tired of having this happen. In stead I did laundry, made dinner and picked up around the house.

      I am not looking for a potty party, I just need to say it out loud to the only people I would ever admit it too.

      • Silver, I had plenty of these days with my son when he was a teenager and in his early 20s (he’s now 33). He didn’t start out that way, but following his father’s example, and aided and abetted by me, his spackling mother, he learned to see me as a Mom appliance, of use to him. He’s better now.

        I hope you will cherish yourself today. My son is working today (restaurant biz…), so this morning I said to myself, “What would I like Mother’s Day to be like if it were what I wish it were?” So I went for an early walk around the little lake nearby, and on the way home I stopped to buy myself flowers (yes, grocery store flowers, which are fine with me), after which I called my own mother, who lives a thousand miles away, whom I have been spending five months a year with in order to help her out (and whom I will be driving back to help in another month), and after that for lunch I made myself a lovely cheese soufflé (my grandmother’s recipe).

        Please give yourself the care you need. We have to learn to mother and care for ourselves.

        • Thanks, one of my biggest regrets is that I let my ex treat me like an appliance and a ATM. I know I did this. It is my fault.

          I can only pray he will change. If he doesn’t I have not helped my son grow up to a man anymore should marry.

          We adopted him at 2 1/2 through our state. I know he had attachment disorder and PTSD, I know it is an up hill battle some days. I just need him to be ok with every cell of my being. This is what really made today a shit show.

    • ⚡️⚡️Newsflash⚡️⚡️ One of my sons went in with my daughter on my gift!! (He turned 30 this year and I told him that 30 year olds acknowledge Mother’s Day ????). They got me fabulous concert tickets wooo hooo!!

  • For anyone here in the slog of single motherhood (fathers turn is coming next month) I salute you. ❤️
    Every day is hard especially those who were simultaneously ruined financially.
    I hope you can look at whatever you have and see what you build every day and not what’s missing.
    You are truly what Mothers Day is all about. Honoring the hardest job on earth.

    I’ve lived through lots of Mothers Days. In the past several years I’ve enjoyed my own way of celebration. Over my treasured morning coffee I mentally review all that I survived for my children. I focus on the moments of success and let go of the moments I could have done better. I sit with that lovely feeling of knowing I brought 2 wonderful children to adulthood and have 2 precious grandchildren to shower with pure love. That love for and from those tiny people are the purest thing in my life.

    I am grateful.

  • My Ex hated anything that wasn’t about him, Mother’s Day, my birthday, even Christmas would bring complaints, I would be fixing/putting the toys together late into the night, while he just sat back complaining about how long I was taking.
    Our now adult sons have absolutely nothing to do with him, he showed them nothing about being a caring, loving man, they abhor him.
    I feel so sad that I stayed way to long.
    I didn’t want them to come from a broken home but not realising that their dad was broken & not a good human ???? I’m so regretful that I did not realise the damage I did by staying..but thankfully we have all come out the other side & they are flipping wonderful people who I am so proud of & nothing like the selfish prick that was the sperm donor dad.
    I was alone, a single parent while sadly married for 27 years…
    I’m now on the brink of starting a new life, house sold, waiting to move to my new home, live my life,
    My Way.

    • My father was a lot like your ex. I remember one Christmas he demanded that “Yeah, yeah, Christmas is about Jesus, but just remember who your REAL father is, ME!” Such a raging narcissist that he couldn’t even give the spotlight to God for one day. I’m sorry you had to endure that kind of torture as well and hope that your new life is everything that you deserve.

    • Please don’t beat yourself up for “staying too long,” which is a common regret here in CN. Perhaps you can reframe it as “I tried my hardest to make a good marriage but eventually realized I had done all I could do on my own. Eventually I showed my kids how we could all thrive as a HEALTHY family, and surviving that time modeled not only perseverance, strength, and resilience but also provided the wisdom to know when I had given it my all.”

  • Thank you, I needed this today. This is the first Mother’s Day I will spend without my daughter. We were always so close but she is now being brainwashed by my narcissistic alcoholic exhole. So now she is not seeing me or communicating beyond a text here and there. It is heartbreaking.
    My mom is still around and I adore her and I will see my older boys later. But these first occassions like my recent birthday and now today are hard. And unexpected since my ex left 7 years ago. But he now has more time and access to convince her that secretly I am the worst person ever.
    Thank you all for recognizing how tough these “happy” days can be.

    • Bossynova: I know how it feels. I’m going through the same thing. My daughter no longer speaks to me & I find myself walking on eggshells around my sons who seem to look for “proof” that I’m this horrible, selfish person that drove their father away into the arms of another woman. Mother’s Day & holidays are just painful now & I just try and distract myself from them. I do send all moms a hug, especially ones that are having a hard time today.

      • Oh For Reals I am sorry. I am sending you an extra hug. Hearing that poison from the your kids is something none of us deserve. It really really sucks. Hope you are able to distract yourself today, I am doing the same thing.

  • Found myself thinking of this column- I’m currently sitting with our one year old while Ben makes eggs Benedict- last night we were with my parents, my sister and her beloved, and after brunch we’re going over to see Ben’s parents and to catch a movie. These are the days I’ll remember for years.

  • I find myself feeling weirdly sad this morning considering I’m not a mom. My STBX used to get me mother’s day cards made out “from the dog” with a list of all the things I did for her and a thank you. She was a difficult rescue in the beginning and it was nice to feel seen and appreciated.

    Once he started pursuing the OW, the appreciation stopped abruptly and turned to anger. When I read the year of texts he sent the howorker about how much he noticed her hard work and appreciated her… Ugh. Was any of the gratitude he expressed for me over 20 years real? You can’t just switch off real gratitude and fuck over the person you’re so grateful for. Watching him use the same words to real in someone new, I just see him as a con man now.

    My parents treated me like the house slave as a kid so maybe my need to feel like someone was thankful for me is what he used to hook me. Not sure I wouldn’t fall for the same thing again? He said and did all the right things, until suddenly he didn’t. Maybe I’m sad because my emotional needs just feel like a weakness now.

    • You are not alone FES,
      Covert Narcissistic grandmothers here who ruined life of their families down the generations, betraying and exhorting men to cheat on their spouses. Despising and having disgust for good men, and for men and women not of the winning kind.
      Much loneliness in such a place.
      Fully understand the thing about appreciation.
      Wishing you a lovely day.
      You sound like a lovely person.

    • FES, thought it would be understood, but maybe not. I am not a mother either.

  • My ex FIL did the “ you’re not my mother” line every mom’s day to his wife and it was really uncomfortable for others to witness that.
    Thank God, I would always say to myself that my ex was the complete opposite of his dad!
    We celebrated mom’s day every year and I felt appreciated, loved and respected. Little did I know that the ex was the covert edition of his father and had the same level of misogyny, he just hid it from view for years.

    ‘The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.’
    The problem with this quote is that a cheater doesn’t even love the kids, so the quote is meaningless to them.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all you chumps out there doing the sole sane parent gig!!
    Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
    You are rocking the world just by showing up for them each and every day, laying a solid, dependable abs loving foundation. That’s massive!
    Enjoy your day, you’ve surely earned it! ????????????

  • Curious how many of us chumps do something for the FW moms despite the situation. For example, I got the STBXW some Mother’s Day treats “from the kids.” Chumps will always be chumping, I guess, lol!

    • This might not play well here, but I think it’s important to help our kids get a mother’s or Father’s Day gift when they are too young to do that on their own. The day is about the kids as well. My x didn’t help our 7 year old get or do anything a Mother’s Day. When my son realized it was Mother’s Day and didn’t have anything for me, he apologized and started crying. I make sure he has something for his father and will continue until son is old enough to make that choice on his own. My belief on whether cheater deserves something is irrelevant.

      • In my life, Cheaters mom has been and is a much better mom to me than mine ever was (36 years and counting). I value her in my life and I took her on a nice trip last year and treat her on her birthday, mothers day etc. Its a joy to do it.

  • Mad props to all the moms out there, including mine, rest her, who brought up 4 kids without a penny from our sire.

    And–respectfully, of course–fock the father’s rights and the men’s rights dudes out there. You’re getting women killed. Lookin’ at you, Utah cops who found that poor abused Brian Laundrie with scratches!!!! on his face!!!! put there by that tiny harridan Gabby Petito!!!

    Nope, still haven’t gotten over that and probably won’t, ever.

  • Mother’s Day has been a tough day since the first one living with my ex and his sons from his first marriage. I was told we wouldn’t do anything special that day because I wasn’t their mom, even though I was helping with their care while attending med school. That cut pretty deep. We had moved to a new area for my residency and when Mother’s Day came around, a neighbor offered to help the youngest make me a card. He declined, repeating that I wasn’t his mom. I dreaded and hated Mother’s Day all those years. Then one day, while we were sitting in a cruise terminal waiting to begin a cruise vacation as a family, the ex announced (in front of his sons) that he was going to get a vasectomy because he didn’t want any more kids. I replied, “maybe we should talk about this first?” His response was, “we just did. I told you my decision.” Beyond that point, I had to decide whether to try to get pregnant anyway (in which case I figured we’d probably argue that child’s whole life about how they were unwanted), or spend the rest of my life with no children to love or look after me later in life. At that point, I made the painful decision not to bring any more of his DNA to this planet, but it hurt more and more as the years went on. I am very grateful now that I do not have to have any contact with him regarding custody issues. But, I fear for my future if I’m ever unable to care for myself.
    My younger stepson in more recent years has acknowledged me on Mother’s Day. The older no longer speaks to me at all.
    The icing on the cake was when my own mother was diagnosed with dementia. My ex and I were living in another state. I made more trips home to try and help my brother with getting her settled in assisted living. I asked my ex to come along and visit her while she still might remember him, but he refused, staying home to “work on his triathlon training.” Turns out he was taking the opportunity to hang out with strippers and build his online dating profiles while I was away with my Mom.
    I made up my mind today that he can no longer ruin this day for me every year. It’s so hard when all the other moms are doing things with their kids, and someone will wish me a happy Mother’s Day, my mind still wants to go back to all the painful years before. I can start by being glad that the ex isn’t around me anymore to treat me that way.

    • You are a mother even if you’ve had “your own” children. You mothered your step children, and likely many others, and like many of us who have children, did it without appreciation or recognition.
      ????Happy Mother’s Day????

      • Thank you Gen. Is it wrong for me to just wish it was a regular day, and to want to avoid anyone who might wish me happy Mother’s Day? It
        Makes me feel good when I hear it from the stepsons (so far nothing today though), but to hear it from someone else and NOT from them kinda just hurts.

        • You are not wrong…whatever attitude on this is workable, it is fair. My cheater also made up stupid excuses to not go with me when my mom was in a neurotrauma ICU after crashing her car (drunk) me being at my moms bedside freed him up to email Schmoopie. Fuck them.

    • I was a devoted mother to my now 29 year old son. I’m not acknowledged on Mother’s Day or any day. Unfortunately my son has sided with his father and has replaced me with his step mother.
      It’s an added betrayal to the long list of shit sandwiches.

      Being a loving parent doesn’t guarantee that they will be there for you as you age.
      I know many parents are rewarded with loving children and grandchildren and sadly that isn’t my experience.

  • A big ditto on the ‘you’re not my mother’ line. Downplayed Mothers Day every year and his attitude schooled my daughters. It’s still a non event for my now adult daughters. But every year, he gladly accepted a Fathers Day gift from me.

  • Every year Mother’s Day lands on the weekend the kids are with their dad. So, each year, their father drops them off earlier in the day so that I have them for more of the day to celebrate. For the last three years, it’s been the same deal. He passed me a basket of flowers he bought (which I appreciate as I established the tradition of gift giving the first year of separation when he gave me nothing “from the kids” on Mother’s Day, and I made a point of making sure he had something “from the kids” on Father’s Day). Then, he proceeds to say nothing to me other than good bye. Absolutely no wishing me a happy Mother’s Day. When I first noticed that he would withhold (he started doing the same with my birthday a couple of years ago too), it would drive me to go out of my way to wish him what he refused to wish for me on his special days. I will not have my children observe me overtly ignore their father’s occasion if I end up seeing him on those days. It’s bizarre that this man, who left me to be with the “love of his life,” retains the level of resentment, or animosity, or whatever it is that it takes to so deliberately hold back a basic acknowledgment. You would think that I was the one that cheated on him.

    For any of you who continue to have to deal with an immature cheater ex, here is the reminder that each time he fails to accord you proper respect or give you your dues, it is absolutely a reflection of his continued lack of character and empathy. If you experience that pang of continued discard, just thank God that you’re free from such a person. That’s what you had throughout your marriage. That’s who he is and it’s who he was through those years too. But, now it’s so clear that you never really had much to work with.

    For the mom’s, own your day!!! You deserve it.

    • I always take my son to buy a card for his father for Father’s Day and birthday. We would take him to a restaurant, too. For my birthday, I received nothing. But I would continue to give a card and support kiddo in a card or gift. I was never upset to not get anything from klootzak or for him to not help our child get anything for me. He was putting on a bold display of what an asswipe he is all by himself. Helping kids to maintain some semblance of a normal relationship to their parent is not being a chump to the other parent; it’s being decent.

      This year klootzak bought me a card from himself and took our child to let outlet child select flowers for me. This is a huge flag to me that he is up to something or has been coached by an attorney or something.

    • I felt that way for many holidays the past couple years. DivorceCare had a course for the holidays, and the thing I found most helpful was to make a plan for the day. Plan something you enjoy for you, maybe think of a new tradition you’d like to start. Write it down, and do it. For me, it was good to take back some control and to have a focus on something other than what was lost.

  • I do get a Mother’s Day present every year from my ex. I’m going to sound really ungrateful, but it’s a soul-less ‘Moonpig’ present of a card and a bunch of flowers or candles. He doesn’t ask the kids what to get me. He just orders something on his phone as quickly as possible. It really grinds my gears. I just wish, he’d give the kids a little bit of money and take them to a store and get them to buy something for me.
    Except, neither of my kids know that he’s bought anything and they look at me blankly when I say ‘Thank you’. I even know by the card. This year it was Abba related. My son doesn’t like Abba. I’m not massively into Abba and my son laughed at the card.
    When I see the Moonpig box, I don’t think ‘aww, that’s nice’. I just think ‘Save your money’ and get a little bit angry.

    • Ah gift giving Chumpy Lou.

      A thoughtful gift requires putting yourself in another’s shoes. “What would this person like ? Where do their interests lie ? “ Narcs are incapable and it sets a bad example for any children if they’re not taught to think of others.

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