Open Letter from Stacy D. Phillips to Separated and Divorced Moms on Mother’s Day


Dear Separated Moms:

First off, I see you! I make space for you. I am you.

Please get ready and steel yourselves because Mother's Day is coming.

I speak to you from a place of compassion, understanding, and experience. I am a mom, and of course, I have represented many moms and dads in my family law practice. I hope you’ll find my resume ample proof of my expertise in parental matters and worthy of sharing my message of support with you.

I want you to know that I stand for women, which is a big part of my life. I have been in cases in courtrooms representing mothers who were fighting for their future independence, moms fighting for custody of their children, and even mothers fighting for simple child support payments to keep their family and household afloat.

No, I do not always represent the mother in family matters, and women/moms are not always perfect. I am not naive to think that every woman wears the white hat. But for this Mother's Day message, I am all about you – the women of the family.

Mother's Day, whether you think it's merely a Hallmark holiday or whether the day holds charge or significance for you, can be extremely tough on moms making life-changing decisions or taking action like separation or divorce.

My message to separated mothers is relatively simple: Stay strong because you are doing what you believe is right for you and your family. Or you are doing the best you can because the decision is being made for you. Either way, stay the course and try not to be wracked by guilt or led by fear. You were and are giving yourself and your family a chance to have space and to be better versions of themselves.

After you have been married or coupled for a while, it can honestly suck to suddenly be single again. There may or may not be that perfect loving relationship in your life right now or even in the near future, but with open minds, you, the mother – and possibly the father – might find someone else. Don't worry about this now. You can and will cross that bridge when you come to it.

Mothers must make themselves the priority again. Be sure to take care of yourself, and don't expect much in return for a while. Everyone in the family processes separation and divorce differently, with different experiences and needs.

Everyone is hurting when there is separation and divorce. Try checking in with each family member individually. Plan special time together separately, which can leave those family members with a feeling of receiving love as you help them understand and process everything. Sometimes the children feel angry or alienated and may not want time with their mom, so please be patient; this too shall pass.

Life can feel particularly stressful, frustrating, and disappointing during Mother’s Day, or other holidays for that matter, so here are a few tips:

First, please understand that these are normal emotions. Second, do something special for yourself. Most likely, no one is going to do it for you. Have a massage, get a facial, go on a walk, see your best girlfriend or your best guy friend. If your kids are not around, give them a call. Send them a note, send them a card. And third, watch a good movie or binge a TV series you’ve wanted to enjoy and know that if you cry, it is absolutely okay! I love my Hallmark movies and events for this very reason.

As moms, we may have gotten used to breakfast in bed, hugs and kisses, homemade cards, and even special gifts – or sometimes not. But while the separation and divorce dust is still settling, I find it very helpful to lower your expectations. If you don't expect it, you won't be disappointed. Flip the script and get a gift for your children on Mother’s Day. You will feel good about the act of giving, and you might even receive love back in spades … but again, please don't expect it.

If your divorce is long settled and you and the family are into new routines, this is also a great time to focus on taking care of yourself. Try to enhance how you feel, even if that means having a pajama day in bed. Or take your kids out for a picnic or hike. Go out with your best friends, go dancing, or do something else you find fun.

And as we look ahead to June and Father’s Day, let us try to take the high road. Try to use your new sense of centeredness and empowerment to be a little more gentle on Dad that day. I speak from experience; when it was Father's Day or my ex-husband's birthday, I would take my kids shopping for a gift for him. I was not usually with them that day, but I always wanted them to understand how important it was to honor their dad. The best way I could do that was to show that I honor their dad, too. And I do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms today, especially if your family or home life is not feeling ideal right now. Things will get better. Lean on those you love and who love you most. And please, take care of yourself!


Stacy D. Phillips, Esq.

This article was first published by Stacy D. Phillips on LinkedIn on May 11, 2023.