How do you survive Mothers Day if you have lost your mother, if you are not a mother or if you have lost a child.
Having lost my mother a few years ago I know mothers day and other milestone days and events can be difficult. I had to adjust to a ‘new normal’ to once familiar rituals.
We all know our parents are going to die but nothing can prepare you for it. My mother was essentially dying for 22 years. A cancer diagnosis covering this time span meant years in and out of hospital undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy, operations and check ups – being in remission, being out of remission. The cancer came back a total of 4 times, each time more aggressively than the time before. So yes, I spent my whole adult life preparing for my mum’s death but when it came I was still unprepared and the impact was still devastating.
Being the daughter of immigrants one of the things I miss most about my parents is the direct line to their culture. My parents were Caribbean but I was born and bought up in Britain. I miss their home cooked Caribbean food, sayings, points of view, tastes in fashion, music and interiors. What child could ever forget a West Indian front room jam-packed with glassware and ornaments (don’t touch anything!)
Being my mothers only child all her hopes and dreams lay with me. Her expectations were high – I never felt I could quite reach them. I always thought I would be a different kind of mum when I became a mother. I would definitely instil her values but also incorporate some of my own ideas. I thought motherhood was a right of passage, a biological destiny.
I never did become a mum so all my theories stayed in my head. I’m sure like everything else, the reality is very different to the theory. I don’t know what kind of mum I would have been or what my child or children would have thought of my parenting style. When people hear that I don’t have children they always seem shocked, particularly other black women. There is always an awkward silence for a few seconds where you know they want to ask (and some do ask), ‘Why not? or ‘How come?’. I don’t need to explain but sometimes I feel like I should, just so they don’t think I’m strange. There was no traumatic story for me, I just didn’t meet Mr Right during my childbearing years and I didn’t dare to have a child without being in a successful relationship. So things just didn’t work out that way for me, I am as surprised as the next person.
For those who didn’t become mothers but wanted to be, Mothers Day can be difficult. Those who tried several times to get pregnant, those who had miscarriages or those who lost a child under other circumstances. Mothers day can make you think of the ‘what ifs’ more than on other days.
On Mothers Day I scroll through my timeline and ‘everybody’ is posting pictures and sentiments to their mum and/or from their children. I can’t do either but I’m happy for them. It’s nice to see.
Being a mother is the most amazing job in the world, raising the next generation, being responsible for shaping a life. There is an African proverb that says ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. It reminds us that nurturing comes from everyone – Fathers, Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, siblings, cousins, step parents, foster parents, teachers, friends. We all help nurture, influence and raise the children in our circle. Just being who you are means you are a role model, good or bad, to the children around you.
You may define yourself as motherless if your mother has passed on but you still have a mother. You may think you are not a mum if you have lost your child to miscarriage or other circumstances. On Mothers Day or on any day you can celebrate your mother and the mother in you, regardless of your circumstances.
Anyway, Mothers day in the UK has now passed – the hype is over, we got through it. Now onto Easter – Easter egg anyone?
© Elise – Cinnamon & Brown