Printer Friendly

We must remember Mother's Day will be difficult for many people; Perhaps Mother's Day should be a broader celebration of maternalism in all its glorious variety instead.

Byline: Carolyn Hitt

As if to rub it in even more than usual, Mother's Day falls this year on the anniversary of my Mam's death.

Seven years on I still come home from work every night thinking I can pick up the phone and tell her the most inconsequential detail of my day, knowing she would be the only person remotely interested in it.

"I'll always be with you," was one of the last things she said to me. And, of course, she is. In my head, in my heart and even in my body. I have replicated her template -- my skinny ankles, flat bottom and spindly wrists are all hilariously identical to hers.

My mother's smile is my screensaver on every device. From Question Time to a Pro14 clash, I imagine her running commentary.

Her fabulous wicked laugh -- like a female Sid James -- still echoes. I can inhale and smell her scent -- Estee Lauder's Beautiful.

If anyone's mean to me, I recite the mantra she gave to deal with playground bullies: "Ah tell them to pee up their leg and play with the steam!"

And I can close my eyes and feel the warmth of her cwtch, my head resting on the shoulder of her blue fluffy dressing gown.

But in those moments when grief creeps up on you and whacks you with a force that takes your breath away, nothing compensates for someone simply not being there.

Whether you're five or 50, there are times when you just want your Mam.

So tomorrow will be a difficult day for many of us.

More so now that the combined might of commercialism and social media ensures there is no escape from Mother's Day.

My Groupon app has been pinging gift reminders for the past three weeks. Emails and adverts, cards in every corner shop, florists in bouquet overdrive and restaurants booked out with lunches and afternoon teas.

Then tomorrow the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds will fill with crayoned cards and breakfasts in bed and mums feeling #blessed and daughters telling us their mother is their #bestfriend.

Not that I begrudge any of these celebrations of matriarchy. I did enough of them myself over the years.

But an acknowledgement that Mother's Day might not be an entirely universal experience amid the consumerism and status updates would be helpful.

Woman's Hour on Radio 4 took this approach this week with a poignant feature on a support group called Motherless Daughters.

Three women who had lost their mums young shared their experiences and reflected on the impact it has had on them.

It was particularly heart-rending to hear from those who had been motherless since childhood -- growing up in a world that assumed every little girl had a mum. It made me think of a Facebook friend who lost his wife suddenly two years ago and is now bringing up their 12-year-old daughter alone.

I ache when I read his posts, whether he's relating his struggles with the practicalities of care -- all those moments when a daughter would usually seek her mum's help -- or when he simply can't take the pain of his girl's grief away.

Mother's Day can underline another kind of grief -- the agony of losing a child or the pain of not being able to become a mum in the first place.

The division of womankind into mothers and the childless can also bring out the crassest of cliches when extreme sensitivity is required. Society eulogises the former and regards the latter with suspicion.

The concept that childless women are somehow less caring and more selfish than mothers pervades popular culture.

Despite the changing demographic -- women in their mid-40s are now almost twice as likely to be childless as their parents' generations -- the cliches remain.

We're either stereotyped as cold and career-obsessed or objects of pity, having failed to fulfil our biological destiny.

There is no understanding of the difficulties childless women may have endured -- from the medical, emotional and indeed financial turmoil of IVF to the sadness and regret of giving their prime child-bearing years to unsuitable partners.

Those who actively choose to be child-free, meanwhile, can still be viewed as self-obsessed freaks of nature.

Yet I feel it is one of the greatest misreadings of humanity to imagine only women who've actually given birth can be maternal.

Women who aren't mothers can be perfectly motherly.

The qualities of kindness, warmth and concern for those younger than you are not confined to those who have reproduced. From mentoring junior colleagues to looking out for younger friends and relatives, we are all capable of matriarchal caring.

It will probably be the biggest regret of my life that I haven't become a mother, yet I have no shortage of outlets for maternal feelings. Being an auntie five times over -- and great-aunt once -- is a pretty good compensation. Not forgetting godchildren.

The joke goes that it's all the fun without any of the responsibility, but you still share the love, worry and pride their parents feel.

So perhaps Mother's Day should be a broader celebration of maternalism in all its glorious variety, particularly at a time when family dynamics are more diverse than ever -- something those currently protesting about the relationship education proposals for primary schools in England are failing to grasp.

And it should be a time when we reach out to those who feel the absence of mother-love most sharply. The concept of a single Sunday to salute motherliness should also be questioned.

After all, if you're lucky enough to still have your Mam in your life you should cherish her every day.

CAPTION(S):

Credit: ChristinLola
COPYRIGHT 2019 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Wales Online (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 30, 2019
Words:939
Previous Article:The shock Twickenham roof repairs that may scupper England's chances of luring Warren Gatland; A survey of England's headquarters has found millions...
Next Article:Daredevil pensioner, 82, flies Spitfire and takes Ferrari for a spin as she ticks off epic bucketlist; Cathy Symons has also been in a hot air...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters