Mother's Day

Author: Amelia Phillips   Date Posted:1 May 2024 

As a young girl, when Mother's Day rolled around, my sister and I would buy Mum something for 50c at the gift stalls put on by the PTA at our school (usually a couple of interesting looking cupcakes or a glitter-decorated candle).

On the day, Dad would help us make toast and a cup of tea to serve Mum in bed for breakfast.
Then we would pack ourselves up and head to my Grandparent's house where my Grandmother, Mum, and numerous Aunties would consume copious amounts of wine and create a banquet dinner served up to all and sundry, and proceed to do all of the cleaning up afterwards.

Understandably, I was very confused about the concept of Mother's Day. It didn’t seem to be a day of rest and celebration for the women folk, but rather a day where they all secretly competed for the best sponge cake or the most creative salad compliment, while the men of the family (and us kids) took great delight in consuming the products of this unofficial and unstated recipe challenge. At the end of the day, the blokes were jolly and rested, the kids were cranky and simultaneously buzzing from all the sugar, and the ladies - well they were sweaty and exhausted and a little tipsy to say the least.

As I grew older I learned that it did feel great to have someone say that you make the best Apple Crumble… But the constant nose wiping, mediating when conversations got heated, always having to be the alert-and-on-guard Mum, and of course the cleaning up afterwards, really bothered me.

Where did relaxation and enjoyment for Mums come into this? Maybe this whole scenario was self-inflicted? Our motherly instincts to provide, nurture, protect and pacify are very powerful forces - sometimes impossible to quell - but why hadn't anyone spoken up on one of these occasions and said "Right Fellas. The dishes need doing!”?

I was really starting to analyse this concept of Mother’s Day and I wasn't really liking my summations. Mother’s Day seemed to be one big celebration where Mums, Aunties and Nannas did even MORE than they normally did. It seemed like even the daughters of our family were being molded into this seemingly inevitable, unofficial and unstated competition of 'Mother’s Day' that meant instant gratification for everyone but Mothers - hence the Great Apple Crumble I learned to make.

I realized that I didn't want my lifetime Mother’s Day legacy to be about a mediocre Apple Crumble.

The years went by. Mother’s Day gatherings remained the same - if not more intense as our families grew. The gifts for Mum became much more commercial (and costly), though my Mum always said she never expected anything and her only wish was that she could have a day where nobody argued!

I spent a lot of time reflecting on my own mother’s only Mother’s Day wish....peace and harmony amongst her clan.
I didn't realise the weight that this request from my Mum carried until I had kids of my own.

That's when our Mother's Day got an overhaul.

Oh the times I begged for just one day when my 3 ‘Little Darlings’ would like each other... just for one day… even if they only pretended!

I endeavored to make this one elusive, magical day of harmony and peace 'Mother's Day'.
It was a challenge through the toddler years, and even more so when they hit the tweens - but I made a call - and my stubborn streak kicked in.

I was going to make this work...and I did!

On reflection, I'm not sure what is more amusing, the looks on my kid’s faces when they have to bite back a potential argument or the forced niceties that come out of their mouths while being "civil and harmonious" with each other because it's Mum's Mother’s Day wish!

Husband you ask? Well he learned how to make really good salads and desserts AND how to pack the dishwasher at the end of the day.

Once I succeeded in establishing my 'Harmonious Mother's Day', I then started to think about why appreciation and the concept of everyone chipping in and getting along should be just a 'Mother's Day' thing. I knew that enforcing this ‘Mother’s Day’ behaviour 365 days a year was a feat beyond even my stubborn capabilities - and ambitions - so we came up with our own little family tradition.

Every day we have to find something to show appreciation to each member of our family, no matter how small.

Some days it's really hard to bring oneself to do this, especially if you find yourself well and truly at odds with another member of the family - but we make an effort to do it every day.
It might be my daughter grabbing the tea towel from me to finish the dishes without being asked and telling me to sit down, or thanking my son for making an effort to clean his room. (I seem to say thank you for your effort a lot more than for a final result but you can't win 'em all). It has made all of us more aware of what is going on around us, and taught us to look for the good things in each other.

As for my husband - I try my best to pack the dishwasher the way he likes it to be packed instead of chucking everything in. (Yes, I created a dishwasher-packing control freak when I taught him how to use the dishwasher all those years ago).
He thanks me for making an effort to pack the dishwasher ‘correctly’.

So in all of this...what is the moral of my little personal story? Well, there isn't one. But I'm sure there's is a life lesson in there somewhere.

Regardless of whether it’s Mother's Day, or whether you are a Mother, or a Mother figure - or not - it doesn't take much to show some gratitude and appreciation for everyone who makes your life that much more fulfilled, on any given day. Just be nice! Kindness is free! Say something that puts a smile on someone else’s face. Don't wait for a specific day. The harsh reality is, that day may never come around again for that special person.

So, all you Mother-figures out there, whether your 'off-spring' are human, furry, feathered or scaled (my favourite child is Evie the dog - and I openly admit that to my human children), grab a glass of whatever-takes-your-fancy, eat whatever-the-kids-dish-up (have some cheese and crackers as a back-up), go to bed early and leave the dishes. Take the day off from being the backbone of your family and let chaos reign. When you wake up in the morning, the mess will most likely still be there. (Though in my house I at least know that the dishes will be meticulously stacked in the dishwasher.) You never know, the fairies we all dream of may actually visit over night and the place will be spick and span in the morning....or that may just be the bubbles in your champagne glass of hope whispering sweet nothings in your ear!

As for me, you will find me on the couch, in my PJ's, with my favourite child, planning my next building project using all the power tools my kids have bought me for Mother's Days past. They might be hard work sometimes (OK… often) but they do have great gift selection skills! (Though that might have something to do with their mother’s influence…)


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