Every year, I get that familiar, sinking feeling when all the Mother’s Day displays are wheeled out once more and I can’t go into a supermarket or M&S without being assaulted by a barrage of Mother’s Day cards, candles, daffodils and chocolates.
It’s a bittersweet time of year as I celebrate being a mother while mourning the loss of my own, who died when I was in my 20s, before I became a mum myself.
The cynic in me tries to console myself with the fact that it’s just a silly, commercialised day, cultivated by retailers to make money and that it doesn’t really mean anything. But it doesn’t stop the overwhelming, searing sense of loss and sadness that still engulfs me when I think of how much I’d like my own mother to be there with me.
I’ve written about her before and tried to do justice to the remarkable, effervescent person she was without sounding trite and resorting to hackneyed clichés.
I’m not sure how well I can convey how her raucous laugh could melt the most miserable of souls. How she would always turn the music (Rod Stewart, Queen or The Rolling Stones) up as loud as possible on the school run to drown out our bickering by singing at the top of her lungs.
How she would joke that the huge G&T’s she would pour herself each evening were entirely ‘medicinal’ and how she read Pride & Prejudice every year and found something new to love in it each time. How she would always tell me that ‘everyone has their crosses to bear’ and that I must always put myself in other people’s shoes.
How, as I wrote in our local newspaper after she died (she, who had the biggest of hearts who died, so tragically and ironically, of heart failure) her ‘star shone brighter than most.’
I think about her every day and I don’t need a special day to remember her.
I feel her with me when I comb out the tangles in my three-year old daughter’s hair each morning and remember when she used to do the same to me
She is there with me when I pick up the Cheerios stuck to the floor underneath the kitchen table. When I chastise my eldest son for ‘showing off’ and try not to shout when he takes what feels like hours to put his coat and shoes on.
She is there when I tell them off for using their fork like a shovel rather than holding it properly at dinner time and when I correct their grammar. When I kiss them goodnight and tell them that no matter how big they grow, or what they say and do, I will always love them.
She is there with me when I feel that sharp stab of envy when I see other women with their mums. When I see Grannies out with their beloved grandchildren and mourn the fact she never got to meet mine.
It’s not as if our relationship was perfect. We fought and bickered and I’m sure we would still if she was around today. It’s more that I was a self-absorbed 20-something when she died and that our relationship ended so abruptly and cruelly at that point. It didn’t evolve the way it should and when I see friends with their own mothers, I grieve the loss of that relationship once more. So when the children come into our room this Mother’s Day, with their homemade cards, open arms and crazy ruffled hair, I know I will feel the paradoxical joy and sadness of being a mum without a mum.
And while I’m not sure I believe in God, I believe in souls and, I like to think, that hers lives on in my children.
Today and every day.