Tomorrow is Mothering Sunday in the UK, and as usual, our consumerist culture has turned it into a schmaltzy overload of sentimentality and tat. Can you tell I’m not a fan?
I like the idea of my family taking a day to say thank you to me for all my hard work, even if they can’t articulate exactly what that hard work is. I don’t like the idea that all the nurturing people that contribute to my community who happen to be female but have never stored a watermelon baby in their pelvis are not celebrated. Or are tagged on as sort of also-rans, in the same way as you get a medal for participating because you didn’t win.
I like to take a moment to think of all that my mother has taught me, and to say thank you to her, and to really really really appreciate that she is still giving into my life as an adult. But I remember that she doesn’t have the chance to say thank you to her mother. And I remember that for some of us, to think of motherhood is to think of loss.
Sometimes, for me, to think of motherhood is to think of loss. Because there are things I will never do now. There are things that my family is that mean that I will always find it difficult. You can’t just give me a bunch of flowers and stick a label on my head and tell me to be happy I’m a mother. And when I tell you that for me, mothering is hard, you don’t get to just say “But that’s what you signed up for” and expect me to be satisfied.
For me, the idea of mothering is the idea of relationship. It is building community through love, kindness and grace. You don’t need to have your own children to do that. You don’t even need to be female to do that. If you see the vulnerable as beautiful, then you are a mother. If you see the potential in the tears, you are a mother. If you see the promise in the loss, you are a mother.
Maybe I am more of a mother than I realise.