So Mother’s Day has passed, and as always the weeks in the run up were a flurry of activity in the LittleStuff HQ. Scouring the interwebs for marvellously lovely gifts. Writing up the Mother’s Day Gift Guide posts (two a day for just over two weeks, plus a whole series of flower posts this year… that’s 37 posts, and over 22,000 words…) and scheduling them to drip into your timelines as the day drew closer. Pulling together the Mother’s Day edition of the magazine with pages of more delectables for you…
While going through the motions, I had bigger doubts than ever (and yes, I’ve always had them).
My readers are you.
Who exactly am I trying to woo into spending on Mother’s Day here?
What are you going to do, see something you fancy and go wave the lovely stuff at your kids or your partner to make sure you get given it?
You might as well go buy it yourself. Not really a thoughtful ‘Mother’s Day’ gift of love, is it?
And yes, of course you may be buying something for your own mum – but we all know that as Mums get older they’re genuinely happy with a few flowers. Maybe visiting so you can cook them dinner.
Hell we don’t ever do Mother’s Day Gifts in this house – so why the feck am I trying to persuade you that they’re a required thing?
I realised I’m part of the machine I hate.
This is how my actual Mother’s Day went for me (and how it has pretty much ALWAYS gone for 20 years):
I get up, an hour or two earlier than the teens, obviously. I make my own coffee. Then I make myself some breakfast (couple of pieces of toast, properly lush Tesco malted uncut loaf in case you were wondering), and sit and eat peacefully in the quiet of the pre-teens-rising house.
And I am content.
Eventually, (very) late morning, there’s a slow gathering of my collective brood – one almost-teen, two teens and a recently-was-a-teen.
The three younger ones proudly present me with the traditional hand made cards. Reassuringly, traditionally, awful cards. Honestly – if we don’t tell each other the cards are crap, then it’s not actually a commemorative occasion. All three are drawn scrappily on a bit of office printer paper.
Mock outrage ensued as I loudly denounced their crappiness and their lack of effort.
While this was going on, the oldest discovered a sudden mysterious need to visit the Co op – and arrived 20mins later with a small bunch of flowers, some posh biscuits and a still-damp-where-he’d-just-licked-it envelope.
(It was a ‘Happy Birthday’ card, by the way, which he’d crossed out
Birth and written ‘Mother’s’ over it. *eyeroll*). I genuinely meant it when I said he shouldn’t have – he’d already spent an hour just sitting, quietly chatting about life and politics and the future and the state of our oceans and the scariness (or not) of orangutans. I treasure that little time of precious, quiet conversation so much more than any card – probably even more so because he hadn’t figured out it was Mother’s Day when we had it.
We watched some YouTube videos they thought I’d like, scanned back over some old family videos, and generally whiled away an hour or so until they all drifted off.
Really – almost zero effort from them.
Much later I cooked dinner for six. I made myself a lovely Roast Chicken Dinner, followed by an apple strudel, refusing all offers of help, because I love to cook in peace. Obviously they weren’t allowed to complain about having chicken, and they did all the clearing up.
And I had a marvellous day.
In my very humble opinion, no one needs gifts on a prescribed day as validation of love and respect.
I KNOW they love me.
Because the random lean-in tight hug in the kitchen when I’m cooking dinner, just-because, tells me so.
Because the 20yr old, zipping around the world (32 flights so far this year. I’d bloody love his job), never gets on a plane without first telling us he loves us? That tells me so.
Because the 17yr old casually sprawling his 6’2″ frame into one of our laps of an evening, just because, tells me so.
Because the tired head choosing to rest wearily upon my shoulder when a heart is sore tells me so.
Because the 12yr old making me a cup of tea when she spots I’m a bit stressed or busy, or silently taking my hair down when I have a headache. That tells me so.
And so on and so on – in a million bigger, better and more meaningful ways than a Mother’s Day gift which someone online told them I might like.
Later in the day, I flicked my phone on. And there, in every social media timeline, was a stream of mothers my age.
Probably a third were exclaiming to the world how lucky they were, with pictures of their breakfast in bed, their new bracelet, their array of flowers and cards.
Yet another – much bigger – proportion were raging or in despair – their kids hadn’t bothered, no one had acknowledged the day, they’d been forgotten. They seemed to genuinely feel completely abandoned.
We all know how utterly self-absorbed a teenager is. It’s just the way they are made for a few years. And yet there’s surprise when they act in a way that is entirely normal to them? I’m willing to bet there’s rarely any malice there, it’s just a lack of… thinking. No different to them forgetting their very necessary lunch/homework/favourite hoodie location.
And we’ve not even touched upon the minority of us who find Mother’s Day a complex thing; those of us for whom it’s not a day of unabashed joy. Those of us who have lost our own Mums too soon, or who have ‘difficult’ relationships – or who simply have no contact at all. We’re the silent ones, usually; and more visible to me in their absence on this particular day. Never forget I see you.
In the years to come, when my children are scattered across the globe, will I care if they don’t remember to send me flowers and a card on Mother’s Day?
However. Will I care if something important happens, on some random day during the year, and they don’t feel they can or want to call to share it?
THEN I’ll care, and feel sad.
Because for me – that’s the bit that truly matters.
Not the day that people used to go home and visit their ‘Mother Church’ 300 years ago.
I’m in no way judging anyone else’s preference – if you feel the Mother’s Day shebang is good for you – then great, I’m genuinely happy and glad. Above all else, the LittleStuff philosophy is that we’re all of us parenting any way we can; whatever works for you and yours is fine by us.
But we will not be increasing the pressure and expectation for one single arbitrary day. This year, the fact that I may have contributed to the sad, disappointed, angry and frustrated women who didn’t get the Clinton & Moonpig version of Mother’s Day they’d been led to expect? That left a sour taste in my mouth.
And THAT’S why we’ll not be doing Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift guides any more.