As all the Brits out there will know, yesterday it was Mother’s day in the UK. I had planned to write a post about it, but it turned out to be one of those days. You know the ones – you have high expectations of a lovely family day together. I have learned over the past decade of parenthood that high expectations come before fall – or a fallout. Take a Dad who is not only living in a different country most of the week but is also jet lagged (he was in Mexico last week, not Paris…), add a Mum who has cabin fever (post op recovery, terrible weather, no exercise and raging PMS) and add to the mix two kids still on a high from a birthday party and upcoming ‘actual’ birthday. Oh, and an impending move which we are all anxious about. Cue fallout of nuclear proportions.
The morning was spent arguing and then the rest of the day making friends. So no time or energy for social media…
So this is a post about a Sunday on a Monday…the kind of catching up which pretty much sums up my life at the moment. I feel like I am constantly running (or rather walking) two paces behind.
Having lived overseas for five years now, I know that Mother’s Day is celebrated in lots of countries but not at the same time as the UK, which is always the third Sunday of Lent. This makes it a different date each year which, when you are away from home and all the advertising, can make it tricky to remember. It’s a celebration which has its roots in the church – traditionally on this date people would return to their ‘mother’ church i.e. their home church. Inevitably this led to family reunions as children who were working away from home (this was in the days when children as young as ten would be sent away to work) would return to their parents for the day and, on the way home, would pick the wildflowers to present to their mothers. This in time led to the tradition of domestic servants being given the day off to go and visit their mothers and families.
As a child growing up in England we would always go to church on Mother’s Day, and be given daffodils to present to our Mums.
But in the UK the traditional name for the celebration is ‘Mothering Sunday’ rather than ‘Mother’s Day’. The verb ‘to mother’ however, is not exclusive to mothers – or to women, or children. It means to treat someone with great care and affection, as if they were a small child.
Some of the people I have met with the greatest mothering capabilities have not had children of their own. And I feel like, as an adult, I have met other women who, when I needed it, have ‘mothered’ me.
I always find this day hard because I am rarely in the same place as my Mum, and it’s a day where I really miss my beloved Nan. And it’s a day that must be so hard for those people who are desperate for children, or have lost a child or a mother. For the single Dads. For those women who have chosen not to have children.
But I think we all need some mothering in our life. Not to be confused with smothering, or mithering – which, if you’re from the North of England and a mother is probably a word you have on repeat as in, when your kids are constantly demanding something, the reply is, ‘Will you just stop mithering me for ONE MINUTE.’
Mothering – being treated with kindness, being looked after when we feel small – is something we all need from time to time. Sometimes this comes from unexpected sources. I am eternally grateful to the nurse who cuddled me and stroked my hair when I had a wobble at the hospital. And to the woman (who became a friend) in Bangkok who held me and listened to me when I burst into tears at a coffee morning where I literally knew no-one.
And sometimes we need to mother ourselves. Accept that we need a rest. Allow ourselves to slow down and just take some time to reset.
My Mothering Sunday which started badly ended beautifully. I went to the airport to pick up my sister and my 5 month old niece. Seeing their faces as the came through departures was just so joyful. And while I may be her Auntie and not her Mother, I need to go now and do some serious mothering. I’ve waited months for these cuddles and I’ll be treasuring every single one.