Mothering, for a day or a lifetime?

Mothering Sunday honours mothers and all things maternal once a year. Retailers and restaurants milk it mercilessly in the gap between Valentine’s Day roses and Easter’s egg-fest. Google the term and prepare to be bombarded with pages of predictable marketing, for gifts, flowers and dining packages. But not everyone rushes to the paypoint. Spare a thought for those NOT honouring their Mothers this weekend.

Long before t’internet, Google and online retail, obeying the commercial creed, I honoured my mother annually. For the rest of the year, I loved her but probably took her for granted too much. As I grew she aged, as I aged she developed Dementia. We lost her long before we realised how much we’d miss her. But I consider myself one of the luckier ones. I shared my Mothers love for 50 years.

In my now motherless state, I look at this prominent day in the country’s calendar and ponder the effect of all this mercantile greed on those less fortunate. Well-being and Mental Health is often flagged on special days such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but I wonder are statistics gathered for other such trigger days? For on those, one may be truly alone just as much.

One may be motherless for a multitude of reasons – death, illness, a circumstance of birth. War, poverty, natural disaster. Family feud, life crisis, the list goes on as to why someone may be missing their mother every day, not just on the day appointed for Mothering celebrations. And for every one of those in the world, there is a Mother not being given breakfast in bed or flowers and chocolates.

Just as there are children missing Mothers, equally many Mothers are desperately missing their children. Victims of domestic abuse, sufferers of mental health issues or drink and drugs dependency, many lose their children through no fault of their own. Parental Alienation is often a hidden shame, a sob in the dark and a brave face. It shouldn’t be so.

Fathers have long campaigned loudly for their right to share their children’s lives, they rightly say it loud and from on high – often in newsworthy costumes. For alienated Mothers, it is a much deeper, more private pain, an indescribable grief. It comes with a sense of shame, tinged with the knowledge of being judged by the ignorant and the unsympathetic, who see smoke without fire and enjoy the taste of gossip on loose lips.

These Mothers all carried their children for the full term, bore the agony and ecstasy of childbirth and raised their children as best they could despite their circumstances, often too difficult to share. Many endured hardships and abuses for many years, for the sake of their children. Few gave up their children readily, without a fight. Yet all too many find themselves parted from their own flesh and blood for years when even a day is too long.

So if you are one of the lucky ones, whose life has not exposed you to this particular hardship, be thankful. Show your mother how much you love her, not with tacky cards and filling-station flowers, but with thoughtfulness and kindness and appreciation – not just one day a year but every day.

And if you are one of those lucky mothers, who get the cards and flowers and inedible breakfast on a tray, embrace it. Treasure every minute with them. Turn off that phone, forget the washing piled up or the mud on the mat – you have no idea how much you would miss it if it all vanished.

For there but for the grace of God, Fate or whatever you may blame goes anyone. If you are one of those mothers or children, keep the faith. Keep strong. Your day will surely come.

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