Mothers’ day or others’ day?

Me and my daughter, June 1981



A very quick post at the end of reading Facebook tributes to lovely Mums … and sad posts from people who have reasons to be sad today.


Mothers are universal: everyone has a mother, whether she is/was good of horribly bad at mothering. Like Russian dolls, we al come here from our mother. And they say that mothers retain cells from the babies they carried, circulating forever in their bloodstream, settling even in their brains.

Mothering is hard: pregnancy take sit out of you (not just the loss of a slim figure, but the physical strain pregnancy and giving birth, and yes, if you breastfeed, feeding, puts on every part of mothers).

Mothers have a lot expected of them: and they can get a lot of flack for doing their best.

Mothers need the encouragement of their ‘Day’.

But …

Mariella Sakilariou Wheeler & Ephrosyne: Mariella was a lady’s maid before she was a mum

I wrestle with this problem: years ago, Mothering Sunday (a Sunday in the middle of the 40-day-long season of Lent) was the day when young people in domestic service were given a day off to visit Mum back home. Mum was probably the mother of a host of children, and lived a life of hard work and many pregnancies. It must’ve been special for her and for her probably teenage children to be back home on a visit, but it also probably had no commercial value.

Alice and Mary: Alice worked as a housekeeper before she was a mum
Alice and Mary: Alice worked as a housekeeper before she was a mum

Possibly few people would regret they were not mothers back then, before birth control, before giving birth was relatively safe, when keeping house and caring for a family involved manual labour…when women didn’t have the vote, the chances of education to chose a life of independence, travel, home ownership, and generally of choice. In many places, mothers lives are much the same: work, pregnancy, and being a second-class person.

So, I suspect that my ideal for Mothering Sunday/Mothers Day would be not that we try, somehow, to include all the people who aren’t mothers, for whatever reason (even that physically they are men). Instead of that, I’d like us to celebrate mothers world-wide, and count it as special day for women who are mothers everywhere, to remember the amazing job they do, and to think what we can do to support (even if only by giving) organisations which work to make women’s lives  better: to stop FGM, to see that women in places like Africa and India can obtain sanitary protection, decent toilets, antenatal care, safe births, and safety from sexual harassment and attacks.

Or is that too much to ask?

(Photos copyright, all from the family albums…)