Breakfast in bed or unmade beds? Mothers’ Day or Mothering Sunday? ROWAN MANTELL questions the art of being a mum
I WAS momentarily shocked, the other day, to discover that there are mothers who do not approve of Mother’s Day. I have no information on whether the mother in question is anti apple pie and can’t be doing with kittens either, but it did prompt me to remember that my own father has no truck with Father’s Day and my daughter, famously in our family, announced as a toddler that it wasn’t fair to have a Mother’s Day unless there was a Children’s Day too.
So I served her cold burnt toast in bed. No I didn’t, well not deliberately.
On occasion I have been so swept up in the frenzy of buying stuff that I have accidentally sent my dad something for Father’s Day, only to be reminded that his phantom collection of “world’s best dad” paraphernalia does not need to expand, or even exist.
And I believe it is the commercialisation of being nice to your old ma, that so riles the mum who gives Mother’s Day a miss. But here I am on solid ground, accepting cards, flowers, chocolates, lunches out… Because while Mother’s Day might sound like a selfish celebration of me, me, me for women lucky enough to be mums, Mothering Sunday is a religious festival.
It is not actually in the Bible. There is no story of Moses crayoning on a tablet of stone for the Egyptian princess who raised him, or Jesus treating Mary to a bunch of daffs from the Nazareth 24-hour camel filling station (although he did turn water into wine for her.) Instead our Mothering Sunday can be traced back to the centuries-old custom of people returning to their main, or mother, church on the fourth Sunday in Lent, picking posies of flowers for their mums along the way. Perhaps they composed flowery rhyme-laden, rhythm-free poems as they walked, olden-days versions of sentimental greetings-card verses.
Today we should leave the flowers in the hedgerows but I still love the church tradition of handing out daffodils on Mothering Sunday, and I still love a hand-made card.
As a child I could not understand why my mum would want some piece of tat I’d made, more than a mass-produced expression of my gratitude for her wondrous attitude, unparalleled in this latitude, etc.
With age comes wisdom and now I know that mothers are fuelled by sadism, delusion and greed. Or is that just me? It takes forever for anyone older than 10 to make something suitable, but in the vanishingly unlikely event of the offspring becoming famous, perhaps for developing the concept of a highly commercialised Children’s Day, the artwork might fetch a fortune.
An installation-like unmade bed anyone? Or is that less art and more proof that I need to work harder at this mothering business?
“My daughter, famously in our family, announced as a toddler that it wasn’t fair to have a Mother’s Day unless there was a Children’s Day too”