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Mummy Musings is a fortnightly column where Elisabeth Lee navigates the ups and downs of bringing up her daughter.
Mother’s Day has never been my favourite day. But then, I’m not a fan of most Hallmark occasions, like Easter, Valentine’s Day, Christmas and more. Mainly because I much prefer my sentiments to be authentic – expressed sincerely from the heart, preferably in my own words and at a time of my choosing. Not on the official, once-a-year holiday and conveyed in a stiff card with flowery words.
Plus, I’m a Scrooge at heart. It pains me to see husbands overpay for pricey roses on Valentine’s Day and expensive brunches on Mother’s Day – especially when on Mother’s Day there’s always more than one mother in the picture. In our day and age of blended families, we celebrate four grandmothers and step-grandmothers, a mother, two aunties and more – and that’s just our immediate family. The last thing I want to do after tax season is to foot the bill for a champagne brunch for a dozen people or more.
And then there’s the fact that for every mother being celebrated, there’s another would-be mother struggling with infertility or loss. Or a daughter struggling with grief over a missing mother. Or others who have painfully decided to put mothering away for whatever reason – financial, emotional, or otherwise. At Christmas, there’s often a Blue Christmas gathering for those struggling with loneliness or grief during the festive season. But there’s no escape for the wounded on Mother’s Day.
So, in the spirit of what is awesome about motherhood, I urge you to reconsider your next Mother’s Day. Celebrate the essence of motherhood, in whatever way it resonates with you, every darn day – not just one Sunday a year.
For me, motherhood is about an unconditional love that never ends. There are so many ways to celebrate that outside of fancy breakfasts and chocolate. Adopt a rescue dog. Volunteer. Pay it forward. Give back. Place the welfare of someone, something, or even some cause, above your own personal needs – even if it’s just an hour or two, once in a while.
And if you want to celebrate a special mother, think about what she really wants. Chances are it isn’t a showy gift or an extravagant meal. For the mother of a newborn, it might just be a nap and a chance to use the bathroom in private. For the mother of a pre-schooler, it might be a day free of worrying about toilet breaks and snack breaks and phonic flashcards. For the mother of a school-aged child, it might be a day to really bond with her child, a day away from the routine of work, eat, sleep.
And if you’ve felt a little underwhelmed this Mother’s Day – don’t write your partner off just yet. Maybe they tried in ways you weren’t expecting. Or maybe you need to tell them what it is you really want. No one took me out for a perfect steak frites and a glorious Beaujolais (as my fantasy spring date would be like). But my partner T shows up each and every darn morning for me – he’s got my back, day-in and day-out and that matters more than anything.
Little A may not even have noticed that this was a special weekend, except that her daycare made her make me a Mother’s Day trinket. But what touched me more than the teacher-directed handprint Mother’s Day tulip craft, was the other picture she brought home. Amid a messy scrawl of purple stick figure fairies and a pink butterfly, and in a crazed mix of upper and lower-case letters that were entirely her own, were the words “I LOVE YOU”. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Elisabeth Lee is proof that it is never too late to consider a second, third or even fourth career, having come to both motherhood and writing late in life. She occasionally freelances and can be reached at bethgoeswriting.com.