Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is almost upon us again.  I’m quite excited about this.  I’ve put a lot of work into Dope and so I think I’ve earned a day of recgonition.  My newfound understanding of motherhood makes me appreciate my mum that bit more, too.  I plan to celebrate her with a little more gusto than usual.

In fact, this year I appreciate all mothers more than I used to.  In large part this is down to the mummy lenses through which I now view the world.  We often hear women start sentences with the phrase, 'as a mother...' and I used to think this was rather crass.  But now I kind of get it.  I don't believe mothers are trying to position themselves as distant and above those without children.  I believe that they are merely reflecting on how massively their perspective has shifted since becoming a mum.  You see, our post-kid selves are incapable of viewing any situation or event dispassionately.  Natural disasters, terror attacks, road accidents, they all pack so much more of a punch now than they used to.  We immediately picture our own babies there and identify viscerally with the mothers.

The situation that’s really being magnified by my mummy lenses right now is the refugee crisis in Europe.  The toddlers fleeing war and violence and then being held at border crossings, washed up on beaches or freezing in makeshift camps.  They’re all Dope.  And I am all of those mothers, trying to get them through.  I feel their fear, hope, regret and hopelessness.  I feel how forgotten they feel.  How shocking and unthinkable it is to be living the way they are while we watch on, carrying on living the way we are.

And it’s not just the enormity of their situation that gets me.  It’s the minutiae.  Knowing that among all of the life and death decisions that they are making, they are also dealing with the day to day life of being a mum.  Nappy changes, kids pestering them for food, asking ‘are we nearly there yet?’, crying over a lost favourite toy.  You know those days when EVERYTHING is catastrophic for your offspring.  They scream for food and then fling it onto the floor.  They demand to be picked up then wriggle and fight their way back down.  They are desperate to get out of the house but meltdown at the suggestion of wearing clothes and shoes.  An on and on and on.  We all know how exhausting that is.  Now, think about dealing with all of that whilst traipsing across continents, hungry, hurting and scared.  Worse, knowing your kids are feeling the same way and that there is nothing you can do to stop it other than to keep on going, hoping that the destination is worth it.  We can’t comprehend this level of motherhood.  We can, however, feel how unbearable this is.  It hurts both our heads and our hearts.

You see, we mothers FEEL.  We understand that everyone, absolutely every adult, child and tween on the planet, is someone else’s daughter, son, Dope.  We understand that every other mother on the planet is simply another version of ourselves.

So what’s my point?  This started off as a Mother’s Day post.  You were probably expecting something about gift ideas and I took you down a rather more sombre road.  Thanks for sticking with me.  The good news is that it really was about gift ideas all along.  Alternative gift ideas, that is.

This year, stop and think about whether you really want or need things like chocolates and flowers.  I love chocolates and flowers.  *They are scientifically proven to cheer the soul.  So if you are in need of such things, go ahead and enjoy them.  We know that plenty of extreme mothering is going on around here so we won’t begrudge you a single petal or bite.  In fact, if you’re in need of a Mother’s Day pick-me-up, message me with your address and I will make sure that something reaches you. 

If like me, however, you don’t want or need anything this Mother’s Day, please consider this.  Unicef– and many other charities, I just like this one because it focuses on children and mothers – have a whole range of gifts and gifts in kind that you can buy.  You could help deliver a baby, warm up a refugee child or provide nourishment to a hungry Dope.  You could also buy your mum some jewellery, a bath set or a purse and let Unicef to use the proceeds wherever they are needed.  That’s what we are doing this year and it feels GOOD.

Shifting our pounds from Hallmark et. al to places like Unicef shows that we get that we’re all in this motherhood gig together.  It allows us to act upon our feelings and demonstrate our compassion.  Most importantly it means that one of us out there who is feeling hopeless and forgotten will, though this gift, KNOW that her mothering is noticed, appreciated and recognised this Mother’s Day.

*I am aware of no such study about flowers and chocolates, it just seems that their healing powers are so widely acknowledged that there must be some science in there somewhere.