Check out these unique ways to celebrate Mother’s Day during deployment
(Photo: US Air Force, Senior Airman Joe McFadden)

By Lizann Lightfoot

For many moms, Mother’s Day is their one day to sleep in, relax, and get pampered by their family. Whether that means breakfast in bed or a little bit of peace and quiet, Mother’s Day is supposed to be all about Mom. . .

Unless it’s during a deployment. For solo moms who are alone during deployment, Mother’s Day is just another day of taking care of children while being far away from their spouse.

Experiences may vary

My first Mother’s Day as a mom happened exactly one day after bringing my newborn daughter home from the hospital. My husband left the house early in the morning while I was nursing the baby. When he returned, I had fallen asleep. I rolled over to find a card and a beautiful new pair of earrings on the pillow. They were emeralds–my new baby’s birthstone. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift that I have always treasured.

Fast forward a few years to subsequent Mother’s Days: My husband often isn’t around to leave me a sentimental gift. Many times, he has been deployed or away training on Mother’s Day. Sometimes he is able to call or send a card. Other years, that simply isn’t possible. There are times when I am on my own with four kids, and I have to instruct them not to make me breakfast in bed because I don’t want to clean up the mess for the next three days!

This Mother’s Day, plenty of fellow military spouses will be in the frustrating position of being a solo parent who still has to get up early and won’t get the day off.

Don’t celebrate Mother’s Day alone

Nevertheless, military spouses are a brave bunch who won’t let something like being separated from their spouse on Mother’s Day get them down! There will be no pity parties for these solo moms. Instead, moms just want to have a little fun. I have seen military spouses use some of these creative methods to celebrate Mother’s Day during a deployment.

Gather friends for a moms’ day out. Some of your deployment friends are probably also struggling to celebrate this holiday as solo moms. Group together and find strength in numbers! You can go to a kid-friendly beach, park, movie, or restaurant. . . or leave the kids with a friend on Saturday while you have some girl time at the mall or spa. Spending time with friends is a sure way to lift your spirits during deployment.

Celebrate with a moms’ night in. Don’t have anyone to watch the kids? That’s okay–put them to bed and invite some friends over! Be as fancy or as casual as you want. Whether it is chocolate fondue with wine, or some carryout sushi or pizza, this is a night for you to relax and enjoy your favorite foods. . .without much cooking or clean up. You could even ask everyone to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert. Snack while you play games, watch TV, and most importantly share some laughs together.

Participate in a local church or charity event. Religious organizations often host special events on Mother’s Day. Even if it is not a church or temple you regularly attend, the community near your base may offer a free brunch, some babysitting, or a  pampering event. Some organizations have special events specific for military spouses and children. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the volunteer efforts of your local religious communities. Grab a friend and enjoy a free meal or event celebrating you.

Have a mommy play date. Instead of letting Mother’s Day be just another day of feeding and cleaning up after your kids, group with other moms and make it a little fun. Plan a brunch bunch at a mom friend’s house, where you can all bring an easy breakfast dish, show up in PJs, and let the kids play. If you want to include mimosas with breakfast, that’s okay too!

Look for activities on base. Most military bases have special events for moms in May. These are open to female service members or dependent spouses. Some even include childcare or kid-friendly activities. Your base or unit may advertise a discounted Mother’s Day brunch at the O Club, special rates at the bowling alley, or a Paint and Sip at the community center. Check the base Family Services center for details on base events.

Deployed moms, stay strong. If you are a mom and the deployed service member, then Mother’s Day is a challenging holiday during deployment. Depending where you are deployed, the mess hall may offer a special meal for moms. In non-combat situations, female service members may be granted time to use the internet or make phone calls on Mother’s Day. If not, hopefully you can spare a few minutes to re-read a letter or email or enjoy something from a care package.

Remember to celebrate your own mom! Don’t forget to honor your mom, mother-in-law, and important mother figures in your life! If you aren’t stationed anywhere near them, make a phone call, send a card, or order flowers. Military moms miss their kids on Mother’s Day just as much as military spouses miss their service member during deployment. Find a way to say thanks and appreciate your own mom, even if you are alone on Mother’s Day.

Lizann Lightfoot is an associate editor at Military One Click and a Marine Corps spouse. She can be reached at