Mother’s Day is approaching, giving rise to what it all means – mothers, acknowledgement of mothers, the relationship with our mothers and then our relationship with those that we mother.
And here I have a confession to make. Sure when I was a child, I bought my mother ludicrous ornaments and soaps and scents or whatever, and eagerly watched as she opened them. Looking back I had totally abysmal taste. As I grew up though I moved around a lot, and lived interstate for a long time. I lived a single lifestyle and although I was always family orientated, was also fairly self-absorbed. Mother’s Day was not something that featured strongly on my horizon. After all, it was such a commercial event, with the letterbox full of brochures and the retail industry in your face for weeks before hand. I didn’t want to be part of that and I was sure that my mother didn’t either. Mother’s Day faded from focus for me and sometimes I never even registered that it had come – or gone – beyond wishing my mother a happy Mother’s Day in our regular Sunday morning call.
Time rolled on, and then I was pregnant. This was a long time coming, given that I was a couple of months shy of 40 at the time. I was a whole 8 weeks pregnant by the time the next Mother’s Day came around. To my surprised delight, a friend and his partner sent me a Mother’s Day card. It made the who motherhood business seem so much more real. That card was so treasured.
By the next Mothers’ Day of course I really was a mother, with an infant who was a few months old. Parenthood was a solo venture for me, so I didn’t have a partner to express any sort of appreciation for my maternal efforts, but I had a beautiful child and we had a mutual adoration thing going. We were pretty absorbed in each other and my mother was a big help too, making the interstate trip whenever possible. She had a special relationship with my son as well.
With each year, another Mother’s Day rolled around and passed again. Another commercial opportunity that I chose largely to ignore, except that I was a little more aware of it now. My friend never sent me a card again, so there wasn’t any acknowledgement of my own motherhood, beyond my own reflections. My son and I moved back to my home state and my mother was so pleased to have us close to her. We were pretty pleased as well and over the next years that were challenging over many fronts, Mum was always there for us.
But then she wasn’t. Her cancer was sudden and cruel and we never made those last goodbyes, mostly because we hadn’t quite comprehended that it was really happening. We were rather a ‘stiff upper lip’ type family anyway and weren’t open about affection and our feelings. That last morning I reached her a few brief minutes before she slid into a coma. I’m sure that she knew I was there during those minutes, but I never knew if she heard and understood the words that I softly whispered to her over the next hour as I massaged her hands with cream and gently massaged her scalp and face, easing the transition for us both.
As the saying goes, your never appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone. So, it was far too late to tell her when I really acknowledged and appreciated all that my mother had not only done but sacrificed for me. Part of this understanding came from an evolving maturity (so OK – I was a late developer) and part of it, well perhaps a lot of it came from being a mother myself and looking at life and events through totally different eyes. I was very much aware of what I did for my child, with much of it unacknowledged and un-thanked. I began to understand motherhood in a way that I never had before.
It’s poetic justice of course that my son, now in his late teens, gives no recognition to the significance of mother’s day. He always sleeps in on Sundays so there is no breakfast in bed. I may get a passing hug if I’m lucky, and perhaps he will ruffle my hair on his way out the door with his mates.
I still think that Mother’s Day is unnecessarily commercial and that making an event of one day out of the year is in a way to belittle the support our mothers give us not just through the year but through all of our lives. I still could have shown my appreciation more demonstrably. I could l have told her how much I appreciated all that she did.
I miss you Mum.