Saturday, 16 March 2013

Mother's Day reflections

Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days all over the world.  Its origins are unclear with some sources dating the concept back to the spring celebrations of the Ancient Greeks in honour of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.  Today’s festival pays tribute to all mothers and children at school and in churches honour their mums.

We have just ‘celebrated’ Mother’s Day in England.  As far as my ex-wife is concerned, I cast aside my own personal feelings and have tried to encourage my daughters to  build bridges with their mother.  After all, they will only ever have one mother whatever her failings.
My ex-wife asked if our daughters could spend part of Mother’s Day with her this year.  I left the decision entirely to them but I did encourage them that this day should be one when all parties made an effort to get on together.

Within 2 hours of leaving my house, my daughters had returned home upset.  I was extremely surprised to see them home so soon.  I asked what had happened.

The girls had brought their mother a gift: a necklace mounted on cardboard and held in place by soft wire.  To unfasten, the wire required twisting.   However, if you have followed my story, you may realise that patience and concentration are not virtues my ex-wife was blessed with.  She told the girls that, instead of taking the time to twist the wire, she would get some scissors and cut through to release the necklace.  My daughters warned her that by doing this she may cut through the necklace instead.   She assured them that she would take care and that would not happen.  Well, you can guess just what happened next!   Yes, the necklace was cut straight through.   One of my daughters noticed this had happened and challenged her mother about it.

“No, I haven’t” said their mother trying to disguise the accidental cut by holding the necklace up with the break hidden to show the girls, “it’s lovely.”

It may sound a small incident but what upset my daughters most was that they had warned their mother of the likely outcome of using scissors and when it happened she lied, denied and tried to cover-up that the gift had been broken.

When they returned home and shared this with me, my mind went back to the last Mother’s day I spent in the matrimonial home.  I’d brought her a card and a book as a gift, and as soon as I presented them to her, she tore them both up.  That act clearly wasn’t accidental.

My youngest daughter has found solace in a church, however she choose not to attend the Mother’s Day service.   She told me later that during the service, the members of the congregation were asked to raise their hands if ‘they had the best mum in the world’.  “That would have be very awkward for me, Dad.”  Her sister then remarked, “Dad, do you remember when we were in church and were all asked to say something nice about our mums?   I cried and everyone thought it was so sweet that I was so emotionally overcome.”  She continued, “What people didn’t know was the reason I was crying was because I couldn’t think of anything to say.”

Mother’s day is a day when we acknowledge our gratitude but for a lot of people this day is very difficult.   Some people, including myself, have to be both mother and father to their children and do this often without many people realising.  

On occasions I have had to have conversations with my daughters that a mother should be having and most daughters would probably be embarrassed by their Dads.  I try to be open and honest with them and I think we have a strong bond because of it.

Later in the week, my eldest daughter had ‘found’ an old photograph of me and her.  It was taken during her first summer.  I was asleep cradling her to my chest.  It was hardly a flattering photograph.  “Why have you pulled out that photograph.”   “Well Dad, we have been asked to say who inspires us most at Guides tonight.  You do, and this is the only photograph I have of just me and you.”

I admit it,  my eyes welled up with tears.  That moment makes all the hardship and pain worthwhile.
A few days later I was asked in a job interview ‘what is your greatest accomplishment?’
“Without any shadow of doubt, it’s my children.” 

I would do anything for them and be prepared to lay down my own life for them.  That’s the love we celebrate on Mother’s Day.

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