This photo was taken a couple of years ago when we all gathered to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday and I have just realised that it is the most recent one I have showing my daughter (second from the right) and my son (second from the left) together.It was the happiest of days but sadly we are all separated geographically by many miles and getting together is not as straightforward as it could be.
Yesterday was Mothering Sunday in UK and far from the simple day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members, the religious tradition has evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.When I was a child a bunch of daffodils and a hand made card sufficed but today consumerism has taken over completely filling the shops with expensive cards and useless gifts, increasing the price of all flowers for the preceding days so putting them out of the range of many. Some years ago I asked my son and daughter to turn their back on this ridiculous charade, to just send me a card and maybe buy me a small gift at some other time of year just because they felt like it. It has resulted in some lovely and unusual surprise gifts and visits which mean so much because of their spontaneity.
I spoke with both my children and grand children yesterday and received two cards and it was these that made me reflect on the differences between my two and the ways in which we all find to express our feelings. My daughter, Amy, is an open book, her feelings both good and bad spill out and her love is expressed regularly with texts and e mails, calls and visits, gifts and hugs. Her card, predictably, described me as ‘the best Mum ever’, was showered with hearts and flowers, butterflies and birds, her written words were full of gratitude and love along with promises of treats to come on my next visit. Who could fail to be moved? Not me.
In contrast Ben’s card was one sent via the internet so not even hand written but the message printed. The front of the card showed two jammy dodger biscuits, one larger than the other and the smaller of the two was saying, ‘I feel jammy to have you for a Mum!’Inside was printed Happy Mother’s Day, looking forward to seeing you next week, lots of love, Ben.’
There were no frills, no kisses and at first glance it would be easy to think that his feelings for me were less than those of his sister but this is the point where our understanding of our children comes in to play no matter how old they are ( and Ben is now 40). He has always found it difficult to express his feelings and shows his love in more practical ways. When we visit next week and stay to look after Poppy, our grandaughter, for a few days of her school holiday he will find many ways of showing his love and caring. He will take us for one of his favourite countryside walks, he has brewed a special beer for his step father, John, he will relax in his own home and each day we will hear a little of his life since we were last together, his new promotion, the work he has been doing on the house.
It would be so easy to compare my son and daughter and look only at the surface but no matter that I brought them up in the same way, they have become their own people and see the world from a different perspective and so I try to remember that when I am with them, to enjoy their differences and to value them for what and who they are and to accept that our relationships are good and supportive, meaningful and loving – just different!