Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Happy Mother's Day to all us mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law or whatever other title we bear that entitles us to be specially acknowledged today.
Today has evolved in an interesting way. Originally it was "Mid Lent Sunday" or "Refreshment Sunday" (because the rules for Lent were relaxed to commemorate the biblical story, the "Feeding of the Five Thousand"). Pity the poor mother that confronted that task. Another theory is that it evolved from a day about 400 years ago when people ritually visited their closest big (or "Mother") church. The big church, or cathedral was considered to be the mother of all churches in an area. Hence the term "big mother" perhaps? The congregation so gathered at the big mother were said to have gone "a mothering".
In Britain servant boys and girls were allowed only one day a year to visit their families, which was usually Mothering Sunday and were often allowed to take a cake or some other gift from the household home for their mothers. They also usually collected flowers from the fields to take home to Mum. No roadside stalls in those days.
Mother's Day was also termed "Simnel Sunday" after the cake of that name - a fruit cake decorated with marzipan. Hence Robert Herrick's poem of 1648:
"I'll to thee a Simnell bring
'Gainst thou go'st a mothering,
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou'lt give to me".
Being a mother is indeed a blessing, albeit often a mixed one. Our children hold within their hands the power to bestow on us inexpressible delight, pride and joy, on the one hand and on the other unfathomable hurt, frustration and disappointment, seemingly at whim. As Anne Lamott writes in her book "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life" in talking about her small son; one day he would look at her quite seriously, take her face in his little hands and tell her he loved her, only to become within a few hours the most unendurable little monster.
No other relationship so enslaves us from the first instant of our mutual existence until the last breath, but no other relationship holds within it the potential to teach us so much. We finally come to understand the agonies to which we subjected our own parents, we discover an amazing capacity within ourselves for self-sacrifice and selflessness and we come to appreciate the meaning of all those painful life lessons we had to learn ourselves in trying to re-interpret them for our children.
Mother's Day doesn't make it all worthwhile, because we already know it is, but it is an opportunity to recognise the role we play in each other's lives and how important we are to each other. So mothers, enjoy!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Happy birthday dear Nina and I look forward to celebrating the next special one. We both decided waiting until our 70ths for the next big one is too long, and a half decade big celebration is the way to go, so in my case there's a little less time to wait for that, but it will be definitely one to remember, like this one was for Nina!