I watched Mother’s Day drift past yesterday with a sort of wry amusement; 17 years on from my first, I’ve long got over the fact that if you build it up as a day where you expect a combination of the most thoughtless elements of the house (children) combined with the least slushy and demonstrative element of the house (husband/male partner/ I have no idea how a female partner might manage this) to fete and honour you, you are pretty much doomed to disappointment. The rule of thumb on such things, I’ve concluded, is that you’ll get full on feted for birthday, Xmas or Mother’s Day, roughly once every 5 years. The rest of the time, unless you’ve recently given birth, you might consider yourself lucky with a late night home made card and quite possibly getting a cup of tea brought to you.
And you know what, that’s fine. Really, it is. Mother’s Day isn’t about having your worth demonstrated in quantities of chocolate, hastily or lovingly bought flowers, or an orchestrated show of love. If you went in for motherhood for commercial gain, I can only assure you that’s as mad as thinking that at least an extra child will be paid for in the additional child benefit. Motherhood is about being last in the pecking order every single time, about smiling with gritted teeth when you get a microwave for your birthday ‘because we needed one’ (just for a moment I thought it might have been a Mac… but no…) and loving the tat that Brownies dreamed up for you. Besides, at best here in the UK it is a religious bygone from when girls in service had a half day to visit their mum; at worst, it has become yet another reason for the retail world to cash in on your money and the guilt laden race for partners to find something that proves a woman’s worth. Is that really what you want? To know you are worth at least the cost of a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates?
My Mother’s Day began yesterday with me getting up to make tea because I wanted the husband to give up his morning and drive me to a place to collect a bureau. I didn’t want to go on my own and he didn’t question it. So the very least I could do was get up and make tea. By 8.30am I had dealt with an emergency small boy poo, put on a load of washing and a load of drying and squirted bleach down 2 toilets. I had an enjoyable trip down the A1 with 3 of the family, lunch in a service station I bought myself, bought my own bureau, tidied the house and rearranged the living room (much dusting) and eventually reminded my children that I’d given them 2 gifts to give me that I bought myself and they’d forgotten to hand over. 😀 😀
But I also got a lovingly created breakfast that one child dreamed up and was a total surprise and another made even though she had only just woken when she was whisperingly asked to go and do it. I also got 2 cards – one toddler made and one teenager independently bought and given. And I spent the day creating a space for myself to write again, avoiding bickering kids and choosing not to nag them for it and eventually retiring to the bath to soak in the company of one of the candles in a gift set that Yankee Candle sent me to review. Very nice by the way, gorgeous smell, last nearly forever, plus endless entertainment for small boys by showing him you can make the flame go out by putting the lid on. And also, that tin. Oh the things I will find to put in that tin! When I came down from my Xmas Lush, candlelit bath, I enjoyed the face cream that I bought the other week and then thought “Oh, I’ll give that to the kids to give me for Mother’s Day.”
And then I wrestled the boy into bed.
I’ve been learning a lot about self care lately, something that got terribly lost in amongst all the “blog it, live it, be happy, be grateful, keep moving forward” mess of the last few years. It made me sad to see so many people made unhappy by a day that is only like another day and seems to reduce the joy of being a mum to wages in demonstrated affection. Self care is what I did, not bitterly, not regretfully, not ‘putting on a brave face’, not ‘making the best of it’ but just being, tootling, doing my own thing. I had moved furniture so I made a little place to honour the missing boy in this house so his blanket can still be near me.
And that’s it, in a nutshell. I count myself fortunate that for all that small boy will never make me an scruffy cake case flower card and I’d give nearly anything for him to be here to forget Mother’s Day, I had another 5 kids to nag and grumble at all day if I chose. There are plenty of people far worse off. Plenty of people without the husband or partner who were part of the journey, plenty of women facing Mother’s Day without a baby or child to distract them or take them for granted. It’s just a day – your day, if you are a mum – whether your children are in your arms or heart, so there would need to be a very, very good reason for it to make you miserable.