On this strange Mother’s Day, where my inner calendar is set on Irish time and Qatar celebrated it last Thursday (yup, it is as strange as it sounds), I want to say Thank You to my own wonderful mother, who taught me all I need to know about motherhood.
I have two girls upstairs who are plotting breakfast in bed for me tomorrow morning. I know them, I’ll get it, perhaps with a splash of milk on the duvet, or cereal spilled on the tray, but it’s delivered with love and the best open hearts. I can remember doing the same as a child, and my heart fills with gratitude that my own girls are taking this and running with it.
We say we become mothers when we give birth or welcome a child into our lives, but actually that’s not true. It happens when a woman enters our lives and starts shaping for us that image of what motherhood is: unconditional love, kindness, gentle steering in the right directions for life. Many of us, myself included, are lucky that this woman takes the shape of our mothers. I know I started learning how to be a mother when my knee was kissed better after a fall; when I was shown how to care for and respect my granny; when I saw her juggling work, housework, kids; when I saw her deal with the struggles life handed her, and the joys too, with grace, dignity and creative embrace. She handed me poems about beloved departed budgies, offered tea when teenage hormones got too much and stood back when I muddled my way through early adulthood.
She was the one who welcomed my early tears of motherhood. Who laughed when I couldn’t stop talking about those first windy smiles. Who advised gently when I didn’t know which way was up from exhaustion, hormones and general muddled-ness. Who took my kids, one by one as the brood grew, and minded them every Friday, and more. Who loves them unconditionally.
So here she is with me now in Qatar. Again helping me — us — on another journey into the unknown. A source of immense support and wisdom as I, and my family, try to shape a new life. She is putting us first at a time that I know must be difficult for her. We’re creating a new distance but I know the relationship will remain as integral to my life as it always has been.
She is joined by so many other mothers as the rocks of my life — aunts, mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, friends. All mothers with their own strength and wisdom. All women who have shared their experience with me and helped make me the mother I am today.
So on this day when we in Ireland celebrate our mothers, I say Thank You Mum. For being my Mum, my rock, the much loved Nana of my children. For teaching me, and my girls, how to be a mum.
I love you.