Mother’s Day: a discovery

This is not a post bragging about my beautiful daughter, though it easily could be.

This is not a post heaping praise upon my own wonderful mother, though it easily could be.

This is not a post showing off the gifts ‘Izzy’ has got me, though it could be (I say this not knowing if I’m getting anything tomorrow.)

This is not a post about ideal gifts or things to do or how dads can really make it special. This post is not a funny ‘Some Mother’s Day this is. I had to make my own breakfast’ kind of post.

Strap in; you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Mother’s Day has its roots in Christianity. In days of yore, on the 4th   Sunday of Lent people left their jobs in the Big House to return to their ‘Mother’ parish to help with any agricultural work. Many branches of Christianity still use Mothering Sunday to reflect on the idea of Mother Church and the role of mothers in faith, scripture etc. often focusing on the obedience of Mary, Christ’s mother.

Now, I am proud to be both a feminist and a Christian. I’m not going to lie, I have an issue with this festival and how it is celebrated. The emphasis can often be put on women being submissive and subserviant and cement traditional, gender-stereotypes. There’s a better way, in my opinion, to teach this lesson and the Church I attend is much more progressive in its thinking. Last year, the sermon focused on how all members of the Church can be nurturing and protective, fulfilling a parental role, in the teaching of Scripture.

But it has this tradition which drives me bonkers (and my vicar is well aware of this so I’m not slagging him off behind his back): every woman in the congregation is given a plant or a bunch of daffs (when in Wales).

Gah! WTF? Is that all I can be to the Church? A mother? I can’t serve any other role?

And that’s the problem with the whole damned day: there’s the assumption that every woman is or will be a mum. That they even wanted to be one. There’s no consideration in that for the women who desperately wanted children but couldn’t have them. Or for the mothers who loved children that never got here or who were born asleep. Or for the mothers who lost their children in the most tragic of circumstances. Or mothers who have lost contact with their children for whatever reason. Or for women who terminated a pregnancy. Or for women whose children have done terrible things. Or women who were forced into motherhood… The list goes on.

There’s this fluffy rose tinted image of motherhood that the media, and companies desperate to sell more crap we don’t need, continue to throw at us. Mothers are calm, poised, excellent cooks, fixer of all problems and a child’s best friend. And it’s shoved down our throats a thousand times a day from the moment Valentine’s day is over.

Horseshit.

Mothers are human and we drop the ball. Sometimes we fuck up. We are not some divine being who can do everything. My house has not been hoovered in weeks.

Then there is the never ending criticism of mums: boob vs bottle, stay-at-home vs working mother, co-sleeping vs crying it out… everything a mother does is judged and scrutinised. It is no wonder mums who suffer from PND still struggle to ask for help.

And then there are the mothers who genuinely did fuck up, who chose alcohol or drugs or men over their kids. Women who beat and terrorised their kids or sold them into prostitution (When I started teaching, this had happened to a girl in my class) Or who stood by while someone else hurt their babies. Mother’s day has to be exceedingly painful for those children…

And then it hit me, as I wrote this blog post that that was exactly what those flowers were for. For the mothers who lost their children, for the mothers who are struggling, for the children of the mothers who got it all wrong and didn’t protect their children from the world’s darkness. Those flowers recognise when motherhood goes wrong as well as celebrating the virtues of mothers. They say so much more than I initially thought.

So, I raise my tea cup in a toast to mothers. To my own amazing mother and mother in law, to the working mums and the stay at home ones, to the mums who grieve for lost children, to foster-mums, step-mums, single mums, for dads that have to be mums and mums who have to be dads, to aunties who stepped into the breach, to mums of furbabies, to the mums who got it wrong and are trying to fix it now, even to those mums who got it wrong and aren’t, to those who are determined to do what their mother didn’t or couldn’t do, to the mothers who didn’t have a choice, to the mothers doing the best they can, to those struggling with PND, to anyone who has loved and nurtured, sacrificed and wept tears of joy and sorrow, for those who have given their all for love of another living creature, to those who loved with their whole heart, I salute you.

Until next time,
Ellen xoxox

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