First broadcast on Mother’s Day – 10 May 2020 on RNZ National. Listen to it here:
Or you can read it here…
My great-grandmother, Edith Rogers, famously disapproved of Mother’s Day. Born in 1873, she was a Captain in the Salvation Army and – by all accounts – a feminist-socialist with a warm heart and firm principles. Great-Grandma said that if you needed to set aside one day a year to celebrate your mother, you weren’t doing it right.
Mothers were for treasuring every day, she said – and indeed she was much adored. In her later years, before she moved in with her eldest daughter Ruth, her son-in-law Frank would drive to her house each evening with Great-Grandma’s share of their dinner, carefully plated and placed in a basket, on top of a hot water bottle to keep it warm.
But although we were discouraged from buying into the Hallmark consumerism, it has been our family tradition to turn the dial up a little to celebrate motherhood on mother’s day – homemade cards, breakfast in bed, maybe something a bit daft from the $2 Shop. And all of us gathering together – at least three, and more recently four generations of us under one roof.
This Mother’s Day in Lockdown looks very different. It will be the first one since my mother died, and while I know she would heartily disapprove of me getting maudlin, I also know that grief by-passes rational thought so I expect to be bowled over by a wave of it at some point during the day.
Like lots of us, my daughter and grandchildren’s Bubble is too far away for us to be with each other, so I won’t get to sniff their heads. Instead, of course, we will Zoom – which can be tremendous fun, especially when my six-year-old granddaughter, Ariana, grabs the iPad and runs with it out into the garden, giggling at her own wickedness; or when my two-year-old grandson, Nukutawhiti, smothers the screen in wet kisses.
The madness of Lockdown also means that I’ve tidied out some drawers and rediscovered old handmade Mother’s Day cards my daughter created over the years. I’ve taken pictures of them to send to her, to remind her of her lifetime of fabulous handcraft skills.
This is a shout-out to everyone who might find Mother’s Day a little tricky this year. People who can’t be with their mothers, for whatever reason. People who aren’t mothers, but wish they were. People for whom a day like this might remind them of what is missing, rather than what is there.
I hope that, instead, we can celebrate the mothering we all do – looking out for each other, making each other feel loved and safe, checking in, staying in touch, doing the metaphorical equivalent of plating up a share of our dinner and delivering it in basket with a hot water bottle to keep it warm. And then remembering that, like Great-Grandma Edith said, we do that every day, not just once a year.
Tuesday night at 7pm Michele will be in conversation with Neil Thornton from the NZ Comedy School. Neil is running an excellent series with comedians about their life and work. Nip over to my “Dates” page for the link to join via Zoom.