Written by Myrna Loy
Mothering Sunday is a very controversial event. For those who have lost their mothers, it is an insensitive and cruel reminder of someone they miss; for those who have mothers, but are not on good terms with them, Mother’s Day can conjure up feelings of guilt; for those who have been fostered out or have adoptive parents, this could be a moment when they reflect on their real mother; for those who have been treated cruelly by their mothers, this could be a time when they feel anger and resentment. What I am trying to say is that Mother’s Day does not necessarily conjure up nice memories or images of love and the giving of nice gifts - sometimes the emotions felt are hatred, disgust, anger, frustration and resentment.
Why is so much importance placed on Mother’s Day? I guess it is a reflection of how things are today – children are so busy, caught up doing their own thing, living their own lives, that they don’t have time to demonstrate how they feel about their mothers, so a day set aside once a year serves as a reminder of their mother’s gift of life to them. A separate day is set aside to honour fathers - I am not sure why they don’t make one day of it, and call it Parents Day?
Mothering Sunday as we all know, sews the seeds of cynicism because of its commercialism - it is a massive money making scheme for retailers, where the prices of flowers triple, as do the prices of other popular gifts. Restaurants make a killing by putting on a Mother’s Day spread, feeding into the guilt of those who have not spent as much time with their mother as they would have liked to. Mother’s Day forces many to think, I had better do something special - supposing my mother dies suddenly, or supposing she is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and so for this one day, many make an effort to do something special to indicate how much they love their mothers.
My mother will be in hospital on Mother’ Day. I usually give or send my mother flowers periodically throughout the year because she loves them, but she is not allowed flowers in hospital. My children will not call me up and tell me how much they love me, nor will they buy me flowers because they show their love for me in different ways. So when my friends tell me enthusiastically that their daughters are taking them out for dinner and ask me what are my children doing for me, I save bravely “nothing” - I may get a text saying “Happy Mother’s Day” and I may not - I really do not need material proof of their love, although it is good for my ego (smile)!
The history of Mother’s Day is centuries old and goes back to the times of ancient Greeks, who held festivities to honour Rhea, the mother of the gods. The early Christians celebrated the Mother’s festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honour Mary, the mother of Christ. Later on, because of the intervention of an American woman called Anna Jarvis, in 1907 who celebrated the way her mother raised the family alone, Mothering Sunday is now celebrated throughout the world to include all mothers.
The web definition of a mother is “a female person who is pregnant with, or gives birth to a child or a female person whose egg unites with a sperm, resulting in the conception of a child” However, not every woman who gives birth to a child deserves to be a mother, similarly not every man who biologically produces a child deserves to be called a father. It is the mother’s role to ensure her offspring feels safe, secure and loved. If she fails to protect her child from harm and does not allow the father to protect the child, it leads to many of the emotions cited at the beginning of this editorial. Love of a mother (like that of a husband) is enduring... ‘through sickness and in health’.
Mother’s Day should be deserved, and not a guilt-ridden ritual.