For some Mums, Mother’s Day is a reminder of a deep pain. In the shallow story we tell on Mother’s Day so many women’s experience is missing. This day of cuddles and breakfast in bed and slippers and hand made cards is for some a brutal day of loneliness and sorrow. We don’t tell these women’s stories because they contradict the mythology. They don’t match the ‘good selfless mum’ story so we silence them. We really need to share their stories.
This thought occurred to me when my son told me about a woman he was working with. He teaches older people how to use technology. The other day he turned up at a woman’s house and she told him about her son who has a heroin addiction. About her estrangement from her daughter. She started to cry, so he hugged her. He told me she cried so hard he hugged her for half an hour. I was proud that my son had the compassion to know how to sit with her pain, and the insight to know that kindness in that moment can be transformational.
It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. For many mums this is a hard day. So I want to acknowledge the mums who have suffered. The women who’ve tried so hard to have a baby but it didn’t happen, either because of fertility, or timing or circumstance. The women who’ve lost a child, or miscarried, who have had to bury a baby and then live with a silent perpetual grief; such stories of children they can never share.
I want to acknowledge the mums who have survived domestic violence and those still surviving. Those mums who live with a dangerous mixture of fear and hope. Those mums who live with the anguish that their choices have hurt their kids.
I acknowledge mums who have struggled with their mental health. Mums who have battled to find their sense of self in the role of motherhood. Mums who feel guilty for loving their kids but not loving the role. And mums who have substance and addiction issues.
I think about the mums in our community who face homelessness. The mums who drive to their secret locations in their cars or vans and put their children to bed. Only to wake at first sunlight to make breakfast and dress the kids for school. I wonder who celebrates them and their courage and struggle?
I acknowledge the mothers who are estranged from their kids. Those who have lost connection. The mums who live with the regret of trauma-informed decisions that will haunt them their entire lives.
I think about mums who are in jail. Those who live with the stigma of being incarcerated.
I think about mothers who struggle to show love and affection because of what happened to them when they were kids. I think about difficult mothers. About grandmothers who have become grandparent carers.
I think about the mums who have arrived as refugees. Those who struggle to find a safe place for their family. For the mums who have risked everything to find home in a country that doesn’t make them welcome.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers. This complex role of nurture is so unappreciated, so deeply embedded into our sense of worth, so important to how we conduct our relationships, how we feel about ourselves.
So here’s to the stories we don’t see. The mothers who exist in the margins.
I see you. We see you. Happy Mother’s Day.