Sunday will mark my fifteenth Mother’s Day as a mother and you would think that I would have got the hang of it by now, but actually I am far from it. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Mother’s Day. While it is always lovely to feel appreciated and valued I must admit that I feel uncomfortable with all the fuss and bother and the sheer commerciality of it all.
Originally Mothering Sunday was a day when people returned to the church that they were baptized in; which inevitably meant returning home to be with their families. Servants working in big houses would be given time off to go home and would often take gifts of food or clothes with them. You can easily see that as a mother (or father for that matter) that this would be an opportunity to savour and enjoy. A chance for all the family to come together albeit briefly. Over time though this tradition has morphed into what it is today.
The cultural expectations around modern Mother’s Day is that it is a time to be indulged, spoilt and pampered. While there are women who will revel in this and in fact demand this of their families for most of the women I know this is far from reality. Why is this?
The role of a mother is of course never ending. Taking a day off is just not something we are used to doing. Yes of course there are days when you can create the space to nurture yourself or go at your own pace but always, always is the presence of “Are my children ok? Do they need me?” I once read a book called “What mothers do: even when it looks like nothing.” Just reading the title was enough to resonate with me.
Do you remember as a new mum spending the whole day mothering your baby and have nothing tangible to show for it at the end of the day? No tea on the table, no washing done and maybe not even having time for a shower. Even with older children this intensity is still present albeit showing up in a completely different way. It is so much easier now for me to do the things that keep the family and home running smoothly but it still takes time and presence to listen deeply to the dramas in their lives. It takes time and discernment to be available to just be there when they need me to and also to not be there when they don’t need me.
Also as mothers we are simply not used to putting our own needs first and even if we do every woman will have a different way of meeting those needs, ones which will not necessarily conform with the stereotypical gifts of chocolates, flowers or jewellery. But what would we choose instead? I find it hard to choose simply because what I want does not fit into a neatly packaged day. My mind and heart is at odds with the immense social pressure that equates showing love with spending money especially on a predetermined day.
It is inevitable that Mother’s Day is touched with sorrow at some point in our lives as our own mothers pass away. I still feel sadness for the “child that never was” as I remember the new life that once grew within me but resulted in miscarriage. It can be incredibly hard to be expected to celebrate when just the name Mother’s Day is so evocative.
Over the years I have developed a deep contentment with mothering that does not need a National Day for me to be put on a pedestal to be revered and honoured. The smiles, the shared laughter, the sheer pleasure of watching my children grow, learn and have the confidence to unfold to their full potential is enough. Their natural gratitude, when they do remember to give it, is heartfelt and spontaneous and worth more than any manufactured day to express it.
In fact one of my most memorable Mother’s Days was when I had breakfast cooked and waiting for me when I came in from my usual Sunday morning run. Having worked up an appetite it was a fabulous treat to have a home cooked breakfast made by my children. It just felt right for me: nothing forced, just a mutual expression of care and respect.
This year I will be running yet again but this time following that up with watching my son play football. It has taken me a while to fully embrace this as a joy but it is. Looking at the weather forecast I might even have the warmth of the sun on my face as I watch him play. Perfect.
So when you feel in need of some rest and replenishment do not wait until Mother’s Day comes around again. You give your mothering all year round so make sure that you mother yourself all year round too. Therapeutic yoga and massage are ideal tools to support you in this and more importantly have the adaptability to deeply nurture you whatever your cares or woes. If you would like to know more about how to nurture yourself and your wellbeing using ancient yoga wisdom then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “I need nurture.”
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