It’s that time of the year again. The week when, if you need to buy a card for a new baby or a retirement or any occasion other than Mother’s Day, forget it. It’s like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack because all the card racks are full to bursting with pastel flower embossed tributes to the Mums. And then there are the usual shameless supermarket promotions trying to convince us that what “the Mums” really need and want this Sunday is an entire box of the strawberry creme version of those Lindt Lindor chocolates. I mean, what’s all that about? Re-marketing unsold Valentines Day stock, that’s what it’s about. Because everybody knows that strawberry cremes are the worst chocolates in the box. They are the geek chocolates in the Christmas box of Roses that nobody wants to be friends with. Kids you have been warned.
Of course, all the mums are delighted with whatever their offspring offer with love. (Or at least, they’ll pretend to be delighted.) My children are now sadly almost past the stage of the sticky glittered homemade cards. Almost. But not quite. My youngest came off the school bus the other day and when I asked him how his day had been; instead of the usual “Ok” or “boring”, to my surprise I got, “Actually we made Mother’s Day cards today Mum!” Then he winked and added; “But no spoilers!” My heart melted.
However, my Mother’s Day this year has already taken on some elements of comedic farce before the day has even arrived. I will be spending Sunday morning serving hot breakfast butties to my husband and a bunch of his work colleagues and their families who are doing a 10k run in Tatton Park at 9am. No I’m not joking. In his (husband’s) defence, we planned this ages ago when Mother’s Day was on nobody’s radar. And, of course, it will be a laugh and I’m (genuinely) delighted to do it.
At least I was. Until first thing this morning when I descended to the kitchen in my morning brain fog to hear these words from my teenage daughter, “Mum, I’m pretty sure the fridge freezer is bust.”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
What do you do when you you have a broken fridge, a breakfast to host, and an online shop due to land any minute? I’ll tell you what you do. You speed dial your friend Lorna who has a basement containing a fridge freezer which is bigger than most garden sheds. Later, the hero Lorna arrived to find me knee deep in the assorted contents of my fridge and my freezer scattered over my kitchen floor with the freshly delivered Sainsburys bags on top, containing, of course, enough bacon, sausages, milk and o.j to satisfy twenty five people who have just run 10k.
“Im supposed to be writing a blog post about Mother’s Day Lorna.”
She took one look at me in the heaving mass of groceries in various states of defrost, raised her Scottish eyebrows and said, “Aye, this is a blog post all right!”
All joking aside though, and without taking the shopping theme too far, the whole Mothers Day thing can be a bit of a mixed bag can’t it? Like many other special days on the calendar, some more commercialised than others, it can come with a bit of a pressure. And for many people, it is, frankly, a difficult day for for lots of reasons. The pain of bereavement, loss, dementia or infertility can make “Mothering Sunday” a day to be endured rather than enjoyed.
This week, BBC Radio 5Live attempted to reflect this in some measure when they covered the stories of a number of people who were now well into adulthood, but who had lost their mothers in childhood or adolescence. They included the experiences of the journalists Tony Livesey and Martin Lewis. It was utterly heart wrenching to listen to Martin, the normally upbeat money saving expert who is usually jumping up and down like a puppy getting all excited about car insurance and credit card deals. He shared openly about losing his mother in a car accident three days before his twelfth birthday. Losing a parent in childhood is something that has affected members of both my and my husband’s extended families and it touched a nerve.
I thought Radio 5 handled the whole topic really sensitively and I hope it may have helped a few people who are struggling this weekend and need to hear these words. You are not alone. You are not invisible. You are seen. You are honoured.
I can’t end without paying tribute to my own Mum. Here is a very grainy photo of us which was taken in June 2000 in the City Chambers in Glasgow when Mum had been voted Scots Woman of the Year for her work as a nurse with breast cancer patients. A night we will never forget! That evening, the then editor of the Glasgow Evening Times quietly told me about the many letters he had received about my mum from patients, former patients and relatives. I was floored by this because, although I was aware of Mum’s work and was proud of her, to me, she had always been, and always will be “Mum”, the woman who has nurtured and loved me unconditionally for my entire life, and continues to do so, not just when we are together, but now over the phone and text from 200 miles away. Happy Mother’s Day Mum!!!
And to everyone else, have a good day on Sunday or ignore all the fuss if that’s what works for you this year. Or every year. When I get the smell of bacon out of my hair, I’m going out for dinner with my family.