Mother’s Day & the Ghosts of Mothers Past.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Today, it’s Mother’s Day. That means roadside stalls have sprung up along the main street overnight, bursting with white chrysanthemums. The rest of the year, we don’t even think about chrysanthemums and to be quite frank, they stink…at least a little bit. However, here in Australia, white chrysanthemums mean it is Mother’s Day. Chrysanthemums flower in Autumn and because we’re upside down and topsy turvy, we don’t celebrate Mother’s Day in Spring. Indeed, it’s almost officially Winter.

Of course, I have no idea what white chrysanthemums have to do with being a Mum.

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After all, no sensible Mum with little peoples has anything to do with white. Indeed, white to me evokes images of the elderly. There’s “Kids! Be careful on Grandma’s white carpet!!!” Or, visiting someone in hospital where there’s white on white on white and the sense of being trapped inside a white antiseptic cloud. White to me means sterile and has nothing to do with dirty fingerprints, washing, dirt and sundry mess. Or, of course, warm hugs and having my toe nails painted rainbow colours either!

Mummy & Amelia

Me and my gal.

Being a mum doesn’t mean peering at your kids through a keyhole. Being a scientific researcher in their white lab coat observing children in a laboratory environment. It means getting down on the floor and being a kid and getting your fingers dirty…playdoh, paint, mud, food and unfortunately there’s also what we’ll call the “business end” to contend with.

Children were never meant to be clean!

That, to me, is also unconditional love. Giving your children the space to be and express themselves, albeit within some kind of limits.

Jonathon & I reading

Mister and I 2007

Giving birth was just the beginning and parenting is forever. A parent’s love has no end. Being a tad exhausted and cynical, I’ll add that a child’s demands never end either.

That said, I have always needed “me time” and don’t believe any parent should become their kids. That you can be involved and know your kids, while still maintaining your self. For me, my interaction with my kids is a fluid thing. Sometimes, they need me more than others and there are times when I can also give them more or less of my time. A word of encouragement to parents of little ones, that you do get more of a balance as your children get older and more independent. It can be really difficult when they’re small. Hard to get a break and even enjoy that elusive hot cup of tea (having hot drinks around little ones is verboten and I still remember how much I longed for that hot cup of tea!!)

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Launching into Motherhood.

Yesterday, I visited my cousin in hospital with her brand new twin boys. I hadn’t quite forgotten that elation of a new baby but it was really delightful to have such a poignant reminder, especially x 2. Of course, I remembered and savoured when my two were first born. They’re now 12 and 10. So, even I’m starting to turn back the clock. Do a bit of time travelling remembering what it was like right there at the very beginning when my children were nothing but a blank slate. Moreover, when my son was born, my knowledge of babies was a blank slate too and much to my surprise, they let me take him home without sitting any kind of test…just a “Good bye, Mrs Newton. Bon voyage!!”

 

Thinking about my cousin becoming a mum these days, makes me reflect on what becoming a mother meant in the past. Just a few generations ago, there was no contraceptive pill. Having sex meant the likelihood of having kids, regardless of your plans. My grandmother had seven children while juggling an international career as a high profile concert pianist and her grandmother had 8 daughters living out on a sheep property in the bush.

There was no choice in the matter, although there were some contraceptive strategies around.

This puts an altogether different slant on motherhood with motherhood being more of a destiny, than a choice.

I wonder how that impacted on being a Mum. Your children are still your children and your own flesh and blood but it would have been hard going through strings of pregnancies and births under difficult conditions, while bringing up a handful underfoot. No sitting in your seat and being waited on hand and foot, even though there was “help” for some.

Jonathon & Amelia Cutouts

The Kids.

We forget that this idea of having 1-2 children to give them some kind of privileged existence, is a very new concept. Indeed, so is being able to feed the family without having to grow your own food.

 

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The Thinker: me as a baby back in 1969.

Personally, it is important to understand that our modern way of life and the things we take for granted are very, very new and not something which we should take for granted. Indeed, it’s strange because for so many now, the question is not about preventing pregnancy but enabling conception. We’ve been able to work out the stop part but not the go and not having children is the new heartbreak. Well, not new but it’s certainly replacing the lament of the old woman in the shoe who had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

University Graduation

Just ask Virginia Woolf: attending University hasn’t always been a given.

While becoming a mother isn’t revered in our modern world, I encourage younger women to make their own decisions about what’s right for them and find your own path. Does money buy happiness? Parenting may not give you happiness either but somehow you need to find out what you want. You can find a heap of ways of finding intellectual fulfilment without working or by working part-time. Or, you can be a parent and work full time. You need to find out what rocks your own boat and be firm. If that means, not having kids, no apologies required. Good on you for not going down the wrong path for you.

No woman or man should have a gun at their head forcing them to have or not have kids. At the same time, you need to be honest with yourself and your partner and know you’re both on the same page.

While that might not be the pink fluffy Mother’s Day message you anticipated, it’s a helpful reality check. Children are such a precious and priceless gift but they also come with huge strings attached and we can’t just send them back. Or, just tie them up round a pole like a dog when we need to duck into the shops or have a quick break. Thank goodness for family, day care or a good friend.

So, after that fairly deep journey through the pros and cons of motherhood, I wish you all a very Happy Mothers’ Day, sending my Mum a huge THANK YOU for all her unsung assistance throughout the years. I love you!

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day today? Are there any Mother’s Day traditions where you live? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

17 thoughts on “Mother’s Day & the Ghosts of Mothers Past.

  1. Pingback: Mothers’ Day Coffee Share. | beyondtheflow

  2. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Derrick. The brains been working overtime even if the body has barely moved. Hope you’ve had a great week.
    xx Rowena

  3. Rowena Post author

    That photo was taken many years ago now. He’s now 12. I think we were making Christmas cards when I took that photo. Isn’t he gorgeous! More paint on the baby than the page.

  4. Annette Rochelle Aben

    Love this! It is the perfect blend or reality and dreaminess with a whole bunch of heart and soul, just as a mother generally is! God Bless you and your spectacular little family, I appreciate getting to meet everyone here and bring them into my heart. ❤ Happy Mother's Day, my friend

  5. merrildsmith

    Happy Mother’s Day–a day late because it was Mother’s Day here, too. Here it’s springtime, and there were many places selling Mother’s Day flowers–all bright hues, not white. 🙂

    I quite agree that becoming a parent should be a choice.

  6. Rowena Post author

    It must be pretty over there in Spring, especially with the contrast with Winter. Being near the beach, we don’t have fabulous gardens around here and the seasons aren’t that noticeable. I am still wearing short sleeves by day. We’re a bit spoiled!

  7. Rowena Post author

    Sorry, Merril. Forgot to wish you a Happy Mothers’ Day for Sunday. Did you get the family together? Hope you had a great day xx Ro

  8. merrildsmith

    We’ve actually been having cool and rainy weather for the past couple of weeks. We actually had to turn our heat back on last week. Yesterday it was a bit nicer though. The flowers though are blooming, and everything is very green now. 🙂

  9. merrildsmith

    Thanks, Rowena. Happy Mother’s day to you, too. We got together with younger daughter Saturday night, and then a family get together yesterday (today’s post). Hope all is well with you and your gang. Off for dinner now!

  10. Rowena Post author

    We’re getting lots of news reports about retailers getting hit by the ongoing warm weather. Winter clothing sales have slumped. It’s now starting to get a bit crisp at the start and end of the day but still quite pleasantly sunny throughout.
    I’ve been pretty quiet since the A- finished. I was on such a high and it has been quite a let down but there was no way I could keep up the pace.
    Hope you’re having a great week.
    xx Rowena

  11. New Journey

    Good post….I wouldn’t trade being a mum for anything in the world….I love the picture of you as the thinker….how appropriate!!! LOL….xxxxkat

  12. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Kat. It’s very me, isn’t it!! Off to the neurologist tomorrow to get the results of my neuropsychological assessment. They’ll be good but I’m looking forward to talking to him about how the hydrocephalus has affected my thinking etc. It’s not something I can really discuss with anyone and writing those posts stirred things up a lot and I realise how much I still struggle to understand that aspect of myself. You might also have read that I had a lump in my arm ultrasounded but it was nothing. Indeed, what seemed to have quite a presence when I felt it was difficult to pick up with the machine. Phew. Didn’t need more dramas. I’m looking for a deck chair. The weather here by the way has been stunning. Warm, sunny. Took the dogs for a run along the beach yesterday and it was beautiful. How are things with you? Well, I hope! Take care xx Ro

  13. New Journey

    No I missed the arm lump…really glad its nothing…hope all goes well at the Neuro’s office…maybe he will be able to shed some light on the ways of the brain…I know just aging is changing my thinking…I think I need to add some puzzles or something back into my daily routing as I do not use my brain near enough, in the ole days I was thinking all the time…never shut off….kinda miss that…I am afraid to say that we rarely have a day without sun…Yuma has been declared the sunniest place on earth…LOL for someone who comes from the foggy ocean…I am at the extreme end of the spectrum…LOL have a great evening…lots of hugs…kat

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