Sunday, March 22, 2009

Of Motherhood and Mother's Day

So the furtive looks between my daughter and her father and conspiratorial stage whispering of the last few days are at an end. At just before 10 this morning, Anna jumped on the bed bearing gifts and a huge pile of cards, many of which she had made herself. She has put so much effort into them - the drawing of the snow leopard family, complete with the little cub stretching out to catch a snowflake, the rainbows, the little chicks, the hearts and kisses, all things she knew would make me smile. Good to see, too, that all these years of having a pencil drawing of Will Young on my fridge have paid off (even though I'm in the huff with him at the mo for saying horrid things about Louis Walsh) as she gave me his new CD. Another gift was the current issue of Doctor Who magazine. You can't say that she doesn't know me well.

My most treasured present is a little pot with a dragonfly on the top and I love you Mummy in her handwriting round the outside. That I will keep forever - and maybe I will put her baby teeth, which the Tooth Fairy has miraculously always returned to me, in it.

But it's not about presents, is it? To me Mother's Day isn't some commercialised piece of nonsense, it's about celebrating how lucky I am to have such a close relationship with my lovely daughter. It was about the twinkle in her eye and the smiles and cuddles and the thought she'd put into everything. I appreciate her every day, but motherhood is worth it's own special day of tribute.

There are those for whom Mother's Day will always be a trial - I'm thinking today about the 3 children in Anna's school whose Mummy died just before Christmas. Also poor Jade Goody - her death in the early hours of today may have even more poignancy because it took place on Mother's Day, but her little boys won't care about that. They will just be devastated that she has gone. Here's hoping that the press act responsibly in the coming days and weeks and leave them alone to grieve.

Mothers who have lost a child through illness or accident will also feel today incredibly acutely. I can't imagine anything worse than anything bad happening to Anna and those women who have lived through that reality deserve all the love and support that we can give them. I can't imagine it's something you would ever get over. I know of two mothers who will be facing that ordeal for the first time today.

Then there are those whose relationships with their own mothers are unhappy - something I know a bit about. I was very lucky in that I bonded with my daughter from the start. From the very second I found out I was pregnant, my instinct was to protect and love her. The first manifestation of that was giving up smoking immediately. When she was born, every single cell in my body had overwhelming love, elation and urge to protect her welded into its DNA. This came automatically. I can't claim any credit at all for it, but I think it laid the foundation for the relationship we have today.

That was not the case in my relationship with my own mother, where I was never aware of the slightest bond between us - in fact I sensed a thinly veiled antipathy from a very early age. I suspect that undiagnosed, unrecognised and untreated Post Natal Depression may have been a factor which had a permanent effect on our relationship. It wasn't her fault, it was just the way it happened. We now have no contact at all, at her instigation. I certainly feel that my life is less stressful for that - it's very exhausting and debilitating being a very obvious disappointment. It's still sad, though, I know that I am far from being the only person in this situation and these occasions can be difficult, with all sorts of feelings of loss and guilt in the mix.

So, as Will blares out of the stereo, and I look forward to an evening cuddled up on the settee watching the Donal on Ice final, I am grateful that history is not repeating itself and hope that Anna and I manage to stay as close as we are now.

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Anonymous said...

A beautiful post. I must say, that Mothers Day has always been a bittsweet day for me. I am blessed to be a mom of two kids, now in their twenties. We have a good relationship.

But my own dear mom has been gone for 27 years now. I still miss her. We were very close, and it certainly left a lasting void in my life.

Celebrate Mothers Day for what you can - you are blessed to have a good relationship with your daughter.

Anonymous said...

Great posting in regard to moms. With kids, I have learned one day at a time, and showing affection 24/7 is key, even when they goof up. Showing them we are strong moms, will show them they love us all the much more!


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