My Mother's Day
Updated: Apr 14, 2018
Next Sunday, 11th March, is Mother's Day here in England, did you know that? Of course you did. We all have mums and, even if you don't or don't have contact with yours, you can't ignore it because...well, marketing, right?
Just as with every other nationally recognised holiday or celebration, Mother's Day is a huge commercial opportunity with businesses up and down the country, big and small, looking for ways to sell their products. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not going to launch into a diatribe about that and against said businesses. That's the way our society rolls and someone hustling to earn their bit of crust gets no beef from me.
But with all the attention and subtle (or not so subtle) pressure to lavish money on the mums of the world, it's easy to miss that this can sometimes be a very painful day for some of those mums.
As a mum myself, I've not had particularly great experiences of the day. For example, my first Mother's Day with a child of my own didn't exactly go down the way I'd imagined it. Instead of receiving some sort of gift that symbolised how much my partner appreciated me as mother to his first child, I was handed a book on positive thinking. Yup, you read that right. Wondering how that went down? Well you try handing an exhausted working mother of a 10 month old baby, who doesn't feel supported or loved by her partner, a book on positive thinking and see what happens. I dare you.
OK, well, that may not sound like the worst thing that could happen, but to me it symbolises the mismatch between he and I and you probably won't be surprised that we're no longer together. Nor that he still doesn't consider Mother's Day to hold any particular significance for me and so, come this Sunday, I won’t be waking up to my loves bringing me breakfast in bed or handing me lovingly crafted notes.
But I will see them later in the day and we’ll share hugs and kisses and tell each other how much we love one another. Which is actually all I really want, as a mum and a daughter; to be able to give and receive love, to the one who gave me life and to the ones I gave life to.
This is a photo of my mum, being a mum to her three daughters, each of them clinging to whatever part of her they can. I love this photo; it captures a moment in time when our relationship with her was everything to us. And, based on what I know from my own experience as a mum, when we were everything to her.
Today my mum only has one of the daughters holding her left. No matter how much I get upset about things that happen in my life, surely nothing can compare to what my mum has to endure.
I’ve written before about my younger sister and my grief at losing her in 2013 to bowel cancer, but I’ve not had the courage to write about the way her dying devastated us as a family. It’s said that when someone you love dies, they leave a hole that can never be filled. Well I know this to be true now, Sarah will always not be here, but her not being here has upset the balance in an unexpected way. She was the glue, it seems, that held our family together and with her gone my older sister decided to leave the family as well. It’ll soon be 4 years since I last saw her, the same for my dad and not much different for my mum.
Before I say any more, I want to make it clear that I‘ve not come to terms with her decision. This isn’t going to be me talking about how I know she’s hurting or that I’ve maturely decided to forgive her because hating her for it hurts me more than it does her...blah blah blah. Clearly I have unresolved feelings about her but this post is for my mum.
It’s about how I recognise what this must be like for her, that I know how much she loves each of us and how big a hole she has in her life for each of her 2 missing children. Sometimes becoming an only child feels like a lot of responsibility, when you’re used to sharing it with 2 others and especially when the responsibility is for 2 people irrevoccably changed, broken. But that’s why it’s family, right? And why you’ll do whatever you need to. Because they’re yours and you love them.
This Mother’s Day that we celebrate was founded by a woman called Anna Jarvis in America in 1905. She started it as a way to honour her own mother, a social activist who spent her adult life supporting mothers, and campaigned to have it adopted nationally as a way to continue her mum’s work. Once it was taken up though, Anna disagreed with the commercialisation that became such a big part of the day, because it was at odds with her original message.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not here to say I don’t think you should send your mum a card or buy her flowers, jewellry or a nice lunch. Whatever you do though, try and make sure you tell your mum, in person or otherwise, how much you love her and appreciate her love because after all, that’s what this day is about.
And for all the mums who have holes in their own lives, I want you to know that I honour your love in their place. Having a hole where a child was doesn’t stop you being a mum.
To my mum, to me and to all mums, happy Mother’s Day.
Thanks for reading.