The late Maya Angelou said, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colours of a rainbow.” What better tribute to motherhood can there be? Today is Mothering Sunday, more commonly known as Mother’s Day. I thought of dedicating this post to my lovely mum, but that wouldn’t be inclusive enough to recognise the special place that all mums occupy. So it is for everyone – I salute mothers everywhere and wish us all a very happy Mother’s Day!
Below is the text of my reflection broadcast written for today, kindly shared on Breakfast on BBC Radio Devon just before 8am this morning.
‘Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent and we call it Mothering Sunday.
Centuries ago, it was considered important for people to return to their home or ‘mother’ church once a year. So, each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit the main church or cathedral of their area. It is likely that this led to the custom of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, being given the day off to visit their mother and family. As they walked along the country lanes, children picked wild flowers to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift; perhaps the beginning of today’s more commercial traditions.
Mothers take many forms. Whether or not we become biological parents, we teach and nurture, offering wisdom, example and practical experience. We pick up our children when they fall and love them unconditionally. I was very lucky to have my mum and nearly 20 years since she died, she is still greatly loved and missed. But not everyone has a good relationship with their mother and today can be a difficult one for many reasons. There are those who desperately long to be given the beautiful privilege of motherhood, for whom today is also especially hard.
I was blessed with a son and a daughter, and although my son James died in his teens in 2005, I will always be the mother of two wonderful children. The bereavement organisation, the Compassionate Friends, offers peer support for bereaved parents, which is particularly valuable on days like today.
For everyone, it is your mum who knew you in the womb, grew you and bore you out into the world. That gives every single one of us, of whatever gender, the commonality and a God-given uniqueness that make us the wonderful human creatures that we are.
In the Bible, the Book of Proverbs says of a mother:
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
How well these words transport down the years to our strange times today, as so many mums breathe a huge sigh of relief that they no longer need to be home schooling. They are all heroines in my eyes, including my daughter. This is the second year that Covid has kept families apart on this day; let us hope and pray it will be the last.
To all mothers, everywhere, I say: Happy Mothering Sunday’.