I should have had this blog post all teed up for Mother’s Day but it was actually only after experiencing the day this year, that I could formulate my thoughts more coherently. You see, all the Mother’s Days that I’ve had since becoming a mother have been about grief. They’ve been about absence. And loss. I’ve expressed this loss a lot through this blog as you know – I can’t really read this old post without weeping a bit. Continue Reading…
“Mother I love you so.
Said the child, I love you more than I know.
She laid her head on her mother’s arm.
And the love between them kept them warm.”
“When my Mom died…I don’t know, I got scared. Of pretty much everything”.
He nods, like he gets it, says, “It’s like a hand at your throat all the time isn’t it? Nothing’s inevitable anymore. Not the next heartbeat, not anything.”
(I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson)
Mother’s Day is hard for all of us, us un-mothered ones around the world. I didn’t make up that phrase, “un-mothered”, but it makes so much sense to me. Because we are not without our mothers completely, we are simply untethered, like a boat that has cast off from a harbour, or one that has lifted its anchor. Here’s the beautiful article in the New Yorker explaining the meaning and how those who have lost loved ones all have a “private calendar of grief”.
I’m not writing anything new this Mother’s Day because I’m emotionally spent after the week I’ve had. So here is the post I wrote in 2013 and the one I wrote last year, if you want to know how I feel about it all.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone. But especially to the un-mothered this year.
I was determined to make my Mother’s Day post this year a happy one, but I see already that I’m going to fail miserably. Generally I tend to get weepy and think about how we lost my Mom, but I wanted this year to focus on the positives, all the things I learnt from her and all the beautiful privileges I get to enjoy as a new(ish) mother myself.
It’s a funny story but a few years before my Mom even got sick, I was living in the UK and I heard about this book called The Mother’s Book. More of a journal than a book, it’s a space for your mother to write down her thoughts on what her childhood was like, her memories of you as a child and her hopes and dreams. In this digital era we tend to record our lives via social media but I really liked the idea of a hard copy journal like this for my Mum to write in.
I guess fate was laughing when I wrote the inscription at the front, just two years before she died:
“Mom, this is a very special book, from me to you. I thought it would be fun for you to write things down and even more fun for me to read them! So TAKE YOUR TIME (fate really was laughing) and jot down those memories. Know that I love you so, xxx Belinda”
So she did start writing them down, because she was like that, she was conscientious and loving and everything a mother should be. She answered questions like: “What were your first pets’ names?” (Socks the Cat and Rusty the Labrador), “What was your favourite subject at school? (Maths – um, like are we even related?!) and whether she had a crush on a particular singer or band (Yes, Cliff Richard).
She answered serious questions and fun questions, questions on food and fashion and what her bedroom looked like as a kid, things I would never have thought to ask her about, things I would never have known. And she also answered harder questions, questions on fear and hopes and love. I haven’t read the whole book yet, I get too sad, I see her handwriting or hear her voice in my head or read an answer and I’ll cry for hours. So this Mother’s Day I just dipped in and wanted to share a few of her answers with you, in the hope that they will make your Mother’s Day special, whether you’re celebrating your own mother or being a mother yourself.
I love this one. Because all the qualities she learned from her parents are ones I like to think I learned from her. I’m brutally honest (maybe sometimes too honest?), and incredibly dependable (um, if I say so myself;). In fact, I even remember my Dad saying in his speech at my wedding that if Belinda says she will do something, you know that she will ALWAYS do it. And I’m realising that this is kind of rare. Am I caring? I try to be, but I need to work on this one a little more. Am I moral? Yes. And these four qualities are all ones I’m trying to instill in my kids too.
She answered about half the questions and then she got sick. And this is when the tears really start flowing. Because even though she could hardly hold a pen anymore, she still tried to answer them for me. She couldn’t write straight and it must have been so hard but she loved me so much that she CARRIED ON. That’s what love is. And that’s what mothers do. They may be hurting inside and out but they keep going, they keep trying, they never stop.
When I read this one I cry my eyes out, but it also makes me smile. Because I took your advice Mom. It may have taken me 10 years to get here but I’m writing for a living, I’m doing something I love. I just wish you were here to see it.
My aunt June took the time to sit with my Mom during some of her final weeks of illness and asked her the remaining questions and filled many more in, something I’ll be forever grateful for. Mom was too weak to talk a lot of the time, let alone write. But I have these memories of her now, a little part of her and this book is one of the most precious possessions I own.
So although I’ve had a little (big) weep, on Mother’s Day this year, I want to be able to celebrate and laugh and remember the past but also plan for the future. I want to think of my role as a mother and the lessons that I will teach to my kids, which they in turn will pass on to theirs. That’s all we can do in the end, isn’t it? Live, love, lose and love again.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you – I hope Sunday is special, restful and filled with love.