I have little time for Mother’s Day, probably thanks to my anarchistic tendencies. If everyone is going one way, I will generally prefer to go the other. I also hate being told what to do, hence I couldn’t handle being in a book club. So when the world tells me that today is the day I must treat my mother my reaction is “feck off, I’ll treat my mother when I feel like it”. As for those bloody awfully crass Facebook posts saying “share this if you have a daughter/mother/brother/son you love with all your heart”. Well double feck off.
My kids get a very easy ride for Mother’s Day because of my decrying the crass nonsense of it all. All I want is the right not to cook today (along with my birthday, Nollaig na mBan, Fridays and miscellaneous other days as I see fit).
But as everyone else was buying flowers, chocolates and smaltzy cards yesterday I was in the hairdressers pondering the state of motherhood. Here’s what I came up with….
Motherhood is probably the most defining role you will ever play and yet it is a role that most of us sleepwalk into – even those of us who have waited a long time to conceive. When my girls were young they used to regularly implore me to get “another kitten”. My reply was always the same “it’s not a kitten it’s a cat we would be getting. Cats are cute kittens for five minutes and then they are cats – which is a different proposition altogether.” There is a reason why God in her wisdom made most little creatures (babies included) look cute – because otherwise we might apply more rational thought to motherhood (or indeed fatherhood).
On the darkest days of parenting I have often asked himself “what was the idea behind having kids again?”. And there are dark days. Days when you love your children so much you want to kill them. Times when you worry for long days, weeks and maybe even months about their choices and their lives. There is the bittersweet pain of their teenage years when you rejoice in their becoming independent along with fretting over the distance that is opening up between you. There are times when you no longer know what they are thinking, where they are or who they are with.
I remember clearly the moment when I met each of my girls for the first time. Each moment was different (although all took place in the same delivery room) but each was marked by the rush of love so strong it almost scared me. That moment you realise you are connected to this new person, this cute baby in a way that is beyond explanation. You love them unconditionally and with such ferocity. To this day I am not really bothered if someone hurts me or even himself… but my kids… well…. I am their Ma!
Mothering gives you sleepless nights (and not just when they are babies either), grey hair, and laughter lines. It is exhausting and exhilarating. It is thankless most of the time. It is challenging and will teach you more about yourself than you will ever learn any other way. It will test your other relationships and turn you into a bumbling mess at Nativity Plays. And if you are very lucky your kids will accept the fact that you are a bit of a curmudgeon about what you call the commercialised nonsense of assigned days and still buy you your favourite hand cream, call you from the other side of the world and won’t be afraid to say they love you.
I am, like all mothers, bumbling along, trying to do my best for my girls but probably falling short regularly. But I was lucky and I learned from the best. So I dedicate this post to my Ma – Noirin Scully. If I can be half as good as she still is….. and she doesn’t hold with Mother’s Day either.
Oh God – I have gone a bit schmaltzy haven’t I? And on Mothering Sunday. The shame!