She opened the packet with considerably more care than it had been wrapped. Seven-year-old eyes watched closely as she did. Waiting. Lip bitten. Butterfly stomach heaving slightly. Mother’s Day was always stressful.
Will Mum like it?
She’d made it in the lost hours between after-school and dinner time, a time she usually filled with riding her bike to the end of the street and calling out like Tarzan so her voice echoed around the neighbourhood. If not on her bike she would watch after-school programmes on the large square TV that commandeered attention in the lounge. The Brady Bunch, My Three Sons, Worzel Gummidge. The best programming from around the world. She would watch transfixed, only moving if the sounds of the theme to Dr Who started. Then she would race to her hiding spot under the stairs where the Daleks could not reach her.
She had sacrificed these lazy after school afternoons to make this Mother’s Day present. The present itself was the best of three efforts and the product of numerous tears and yelps of frustration.
Mum peeled back the jagged strip of sellotape and opening the crumbled package, she took out a small bright red hand knitted rectangular item.
“It’s a purse for all your money!”
Mum carefully turned it over. The front featured a bright red button she’d knicked from the button drawer and cut out opening for the button to ease through. It was starting to fray.
“Do you like it?”
Mum smiled. “I love it.”
Mum leant over and planted a kiss onto dark curls. “Did you make it?”
The little girl nodded. “All by myself!”
The sound of crockery clattering interrupted the conversation and her older sister appeared at the bedroom door, arms full with a tray of toast and tea and a flower picked from the garden.
“Ah, and here’s breakfast,” Mum said with a smile that reached out like hands and pulled the daughters close to her.
“Happy Mother’s Day Mum!”.
There are only two things every single Mum wants for Mother’s Day, if not every day, and it’s not diamond bracelets, or expensive perfume, or fancy lunches out. It’s simply these two things.
Time off from the responsibility of being Mum. Time and space to just be and to mother herself, attend to herself for a time without stressing about what’s for dinner or whether there’s clean school uniform for the week ahead, or frantically trying to sort out arguments between siblings or even scheduling calls to absent grown-up children.
Time off. One whole day, each year. Two days if you count her birthday. Don’t mention Christmas, that’s not a holiday, that’s bought, wrapped, fed and delivered to the family by Mum, not Santa Claus.
The second thing is simply loving appreciation. Not expensive or extravagant displays engineered to give the effect of being seen to be loving. No, a clear expression of what being Mum means to those she takes care of. Not just from her children either. It would be ideal if the appreciation was expressed by her husband and all those others she mothers in the extended family and community.
“She’s not my Mum” shouldn’t be used as an excuse for inattention. After all, if all Mums (biological, emotional, spiritual. ALL Mums!) were to stop giving the world would be a far worse place.
The hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world, they say. If you have doubt about that consider the twisted energy currently commanding world politics, and consider this question: What would the world look like if it was instead a maternal energy?
This Mother’s Day, go tell the Mum in your life (the person who is Mum to you) how much you love and appreciate her. Consider it your contribution to changing the global mood, or at the very least, honouring the person who has been the faithful midwife to your life and dreams.
And the little red, knitted purse?
It pretty much unravelled and never held coins, but rather it held something far more precious – the simply expressed love of a small girl for her Mum.