We’ve never really made that much of Mothering Sunday in this house. The OH lost his own mother when he was a child and, well let’s just say that my mother’s ideas probably did not completely tally with widespread expectations of parenthood. She did what she thought was right and I’m still here and I’m fine.
I still bought or made her a card every year, though, often assiduously trawling through the shops to find one without sugary italic-printed sentiments that, for me, simply didn’t ring true. When she finally gathered what Mothering Sunday actually was, she came to expect and demand a card, which I always supplied, if grudgingly. I thought it meant little to her. Turns out, she often kept them.
In recent years, especially now, I’m sure that Mothering Sunday has meant nothing to my mum, whose mental capacity can’t any longer take in anything abstract or conceptual but I am thinking of her today, and I’m preparing for my next trip to see her in a few weeks.
Ours is the ultimate utilitarian, no-fuss family. Celebrations are a bit frowned on as an unnecessary excuse for hoo-hah and presents but I do think that we have a baby and bathwater situation here. It’s quite nice to make fuss about some things. Life can be deadly dull if you don’t.
Normally I get a lovely lie in and breakfast in bed with a flower on the tray on Mothering Sunday. Sometimes we go out for lunch but I find that Mothering Sunday lunches are often the same sort of deal as Valentine’s Day dinners: too expensive; too formulaic with the heart taken out of them. (I must say though, our Valentine’s meal for 3 at Skylon was rather a nice surprise.)
I wasn’t expecting much this year as one child is in Australia and the other has been on her Duke of Edinburgh training expedition since Friday so wouldn’t have had any time to buy a card or anything. Absolutely fine.
Turns out, though, that I was unexpectedly spoilt, with breakfast and flowers and lunch cooked beautifully by the OH and a lovely card from MsDD, with a FaceTime session from by the Boywonder who remembered straightaway that it was Mothering Sunday. With love. How very odd and really quite lovely that the offspring of a strictly-no-fuss family have grown into young people who engineer an ever greater commotion.
I’m especially keen on MsDD’s card. That and the shoes article point to a changing relationship that I’ve not really ever had with many other women. I’ve always said that I am my children’s mother and not their friend but how lovely that my daughter is starting to think of me in these terms. I’m truly touched by it.
Here’s a little montage of my Mothering Sunday swag:
Now, I know lots of mums are posting their Mothering Sunday pictures on Twitter and I was going to do this with MsDD’s card, but I suddenly felt self-conscious about doing so. Lots of my Twitter friends are child-free or childless and I know it might seem unbelievably smug to them to post publicly illustrations of a happy relationship between mother and child. It’s almost as if being a mum has become something not quite the thing to discuss in polite circles, as if Twitter is en masse asking, “What about Non-Mothers’ day?” In fact, the vast majority of people I’ve seen paying tribute to their mothers and those of others today are men, which is curious, no?
To those people, I’d say this:
- I am not judging you for not having children. In no way do I think it is selfish or that you are incomplete without children. I think those people that do are wrong to pass judgment.
- I certainly would never say that you are unfulfilled if you don’t have children. You are likely to achieve far more without the burden of caring for a child. Your time and money are your own. It is perhaps this that causes parents to express so much resentment towards the child-free.
- I understand the anguish of those of you who have longed to have children and for whom it hasn’t happened. I understand the drive to have children just as I understand an aversion to them.
- Believe me, I fully understand the hurt of those who have never felt cherished or nurtured by their mother.
- I utterly empathise with those who have lost their mother and find this day difficult.
- It’s not binary: the existence and celebration of Mothering Sunday does not in any way denigrate those who are not mothers.
Please remember, though, that being a devoted parent is often the hardest, most sustained act of self-sacrifice that anyone is ever likely to make. Nothing prepares you for how gruelling it can be. If you don’t have children, this can be impossible to understand. Our society often seems to see children (and then young people) as a tiresome burden and to delight in excluding or, worse, castigating those with small dependents. Your career, your earnings will usually suffer unless the organisation for which you work is exceptionally understanding and supportive. Most, in my experience, are not.
When you are a mother, throughout your child’s life you are always tired, always worried and always wrong. With their caring efforts so often completely taken for granted on all other days of the year, surely it is not too much to ask to let mothers have their day?
Dedicated, with love, to Annette Hardy, Sarah Young, Susan Hoult and Kiran Chug. xx