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  • Writer's pictureJ.M.


Updated: Mar 13

A Child ( the author's mum) iin a field in the 1920s with a toy pram
My Mum circa 1926

It's Mothering Sunday in the UK today. I prefer that to 'Mothers' Day'. (Is that apostrophe right? Should there even be one? I have no idea.) But I Iike the verb 'Mothering'. To me, it suggests that anyone can do it, because just being called 'Mother' doesn't always mean you do.

What is Mothering? For me, it's caring, nurturing, protecting, teaching, nursing, supporting, defending, championing, encouraging, LOVING.... Biology doesn't necessarily come into it.

Much of The Wonder Girls is about mothering, doing it well and not so well. Doing it because a character's been given the role or because they've inherited it and, in one instance, because they've taken it. Not so much of the story is about mothering because a character has given birth.

None of us with the title 'mother', awarded because we gave birth or legally adopted our children, are perfect. I often think about all the mistakes I made. Did I make fewer mistakes with baby number 4 than baby number 1? Probably not but they were different ones. Because children are different. A bit like books. As Neil Gaiman says, you only learn to write the book you're on.

purples and lemon yellow violas in grass
Violets are a traditional Mothers Day gift but violas are just as pretty!

Mothering Sunday originated in Medieval times, even before in other parts of the world. It has a strong associations with, if not its roots in, the Christian Church. The day coincides with Mid-Lent Sunday when a reprieve from the Lent's abstinences would be permitted. Cake might be eaten, traditionally Simnel Cake, also associated with Easter. (Though I'm not a fan of so much marzipan.) In Bristol, they have their own Mothering Buns made from enriched dough, iced and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.

Originally, the Mother in 'Mothering Sunday' is your 'Mother church' – that is the church in which you were baptised, where, in the middle of Lent, you might return for a special service. The Mothering Sunday gospel reading is traditionally 'The Feeding of the Five Thousand' where Jesus performs the most motherly of miracles, making a little go round a lot! In the early 1900s, Constance Adelaide Smith revived Mothering Sunday as a celebration in the UK. She extended the 'mother' to include earthly mothers, Mary, mother of Jesus, Mother Earth, and Mother Nature.

the last slice of fruit cake
Simnel cake minus the marzipan

The American 'Mothers Day', usually celebrated in May, was also revived in the early 1900s, by Anna Jarvis, daughter of peace campaigner, Ann Jarvis. Years before in 1868, Ann organised a committee to establish a 'Mothers Friendship Day' to reunite families divided by the Civil War. After her mother's death, Anna Jarvis continued with, and became obsessed by, her mother's efforts, to the exclusion of other women working for the same ends. One such woman was Julia Ward Howe who led a "Mother's Day for Peace" in 1872, which was accompanied by an "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world' and became known as the Mother's Day Proclamation...

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies....

I love the notion of world leaders (tech giants... billionaires... media moguls...) as 'irrelevant agencies'.

My own mum died ten days after I became one, 36 years ago. She could be a challenging lady. So, I don't know how I would have coped had she been around to 'help'. I suspect I would have got quite frustrated. But I can remember feeling very jealous of new buggy-pushing mums with their own mum in tow. I am very sad mine didn't know her wonderful grandchildren. She would have been beside herself with pride. I often wonder what they would have made of her.

I am off now for my Mother's treat – a Zoom game of Ticket to Ride with the fam (very pandemic). It's my favourite board game – sometimes children have to make sacrifices for their parents!

Hope that whatever you're doing, mother related or not, is just as much fun!

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