Since becoming a mother I’ve always found Mothers Day a difficult time of the year. My motherhood began with a generous helping of post-natal depression. Not long after this my husband and I separated and I became a single mother with post-natal depression. My paternal Grandma had died that summer, and my parents still lived in Egypt at that time. There was not much available to me by way of a maternal community.
About 6 months after the separation, Mothers Day dawned on a life that looked very different. I had found myself a full-time job and a place to live with three lovely women. I was a sexy fashionista and the first face of a successful software company. So much for the surface of things. My reality was that my full time hours meant that my son lived most of his life at the child minder. I was exhausted and barely seeing my son.
Fighting for my time
As the years unfolded my son spent Sundays with his Dad, and as each Mothers Day approached, I would be completely unaware of the date and end up spending Mothers Day alone. More years passed and my resentment grew and it eventually got to the point where even making a bid for my son’s presence with me on Mothers Day was difficult. He had already received exciting invitations from his Dad’s family to spend the day doing various fun things and would kick up a fuss over staying with me. One year I finally put my foot down and protested about this.
Mothers the world over can attest that there is not another day in the year when mums are shown appreciation unless they are very fortunate to have thoughtful husbands and children old enough to take action regularly. Motherhood can be a very thankless task until children are all grown up! So I kept him with me the Saturday night and compromised and allowed him to go to his Dad’s family from midday on the Sunday.
As soon as he left, I knew I’d made a mistake. I had a total meltdown and had to take myself out of my boyfriend’s flat and down to a local park where a river flowed between willows. I was feeling crazy emotional. It was as though all of the stress, pressure, responsibility and lack of appreciation (children can’t know to express this!) had just accumulated inside me and had to finally flow out. I spent about half an hour sitting in that river in a yoga bra and shorts crying my heart out, scooping water over myself again and again. I wanted to wash myself free of all of it. I must have looked like a lunatic, but when the divine feminine calls with her comfort, she is irresistible and raw.
Working through it all
There isn’t really a resolution to this story. I still get very emotional at this time of year, as soon as the cards start coming out in the shops I can feel the Spirits taking hold of my hand and saying ‘How do you feel? Acknowledge it.’ And run as I might, motherhood is a vortex of exquisite love and pain. We have to square with that, let it be as it is, because it will never change. Unless they are coached or encouraged to prepare gifts and tokens by school or a partner, children are so completely secure in our love, why would they show appreciation on one particular day?
Really, I know that I will get over it completely at some point. I haven’t stood up for myself and I’ve taken so much personally that was never meant to hurt. This year I am making more of an effort than ever to be open to the joys of motherhood, spending time with my son, claiming that time we deserve, doing things that he loves. That way he will want to stick around for the few hours I get to have him for at the weekend. My picnic will incorporate his NFL football. Our movie night will no doubt be full of superheroes! I am very much looking forward to it.
Gratitude is never wasted
This is not a sob story, but a bird’s eye view on the year-by-year process of a mother slowly learning to take up the space she deserves on the one day a year that is set-aside for her. It may be a commercial free-for-all by some standards but it doesn’t have to be. It started as a day when mothers were finally recognised for the love and nurture they give to society and is more important than ever now that communities are breaking down into smaller and smaller units.
For those of you whose mothers have been able to show that love and nurture to you as you have grown, make sure you mark this day with some kind of gesture of love. You will wish you did when she is gone. For those whose mothers have passed on, send your thanks to her for watching over you as she most certainly is. Motherhood never, ever ends. To those whose mothers were incapable of showing you the love you needed, I am sending you love, and praying that someone with the maternal gift will arrive in your life like an angel of mercy, no matter what age you are.
And to my mother, you are the best. I love you. You understand it all.