parent opinion

'Where are the cards for sh*t, absent mums?' What Mother's Day is like when you're estranged.

For more stories about the messy reality of motherhood, check out Mamamia’s Mother’s Day hub. 

For a long time, Mother’s Day had dropped off my radar. No presents, cards or flowers were given to the matriarch in my life.

Actually that’s a lie – it was very much on my radar…

How could you miss the advertisements, restaurant deals and Hallmark stands in the lead up?

Watch: A message to the people who find Mother’s Day difficult. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

While my close friends would be celebrating the most important woman or women in their lives, I was masquerading around in my resolute exterior.

Who needs a mum? Certainly not me, not now after 15 plus years of taking care of numero uno.

I was killing it solo on Mother’s Day, burying the thoughts and emotions so deeply that I really believed I didn’t care.

Mother and daughter. What’s the big deal anyway? It’s not that important of a relationship. Can’t be.

I’m doing just fine, thank you very much. No, I don’t want to intrude on your Mother’s Day luncheon.

To clarify, I do have a mother who is very much alive, but after divorcing my father and moving in with her new husband when I was around 12, it wasn’t convenient for them to start their new life with me in tow, so my father took on the role of solo parent – albeit without a choice – to a now rebellious teenage girl.

As much as it wasn’t always a walk in the park living with Dad, I’m grateful he wanted me and did the best he knew how to keep me alive and safe.


Unfortunately, it never quite filled the needy female teenage void.

So for years, I sought love and approval from my mother, spending special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas Days at her new home, the one I couldn’t live in, with her new growing family instead of with the man that loved me, fed me and kept a roof over my head.

My love seeking worked for a little while, on and off, but the resentment I felt for being the last choice grew like wildfire as I got older.

I could not understand how a mother could allow her partner to decide that her firstborn child not be able to live in the same home as her. Nor could I ever understand why she didn’t protest or put up a fight.

So, Mother’s Day became a seemingly proud ‘f*ck you mums’ day on my Gregorian calendar. The anti-mum day.

A pity party for the motherless that I celebrated dejectedly for decades. Why celebrate women who don’t actually put their children first? And why the hell are they not called out on this day of all days? Where are the Hallmark cards for sh*t absent mums?

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

Then, in 2010, something beautiful happened. I was gifted a daughter of my own.

All those previous years of magnified abandonment had simply washed away. And remain distant.

My first Mother’s Day was one of the proudest days of my life.

I am so proud to be a mum, and to have it celebrated! I love my Hallmark moments and my kids get my absolute all. While I can’t remove the chink in my maternal chain, I can damn well make sure I celebrate being a link in it.

My kids will never know abandonment, and will only ever know what it feels like to be supported and loved unconditionally for as long I roam this planet.

To all of the mums, aunts, nans, guardians, and you.


Cody Knowles is co-owner of, an Australian sustainable bag company, and a proud mum of 2.