Driving to work and school this week my children and I shared one of those delightful parent/child conversations which frequently make up the best bits of my day.
We had been talking about how Monday had been the girl’s 4th birthday and how she had a great day. “Of course,” said I, “There is a really special day coming up this weekend too.”
“Auntie Nemma’s birthday?” the girl asked - knowing that her Auntie Emma’s birthday comes next in the grand list of family celebrations.
“No,” said I. “Her birthday is in April. Something closer. It’s a very big day,” said I, hoping they would remember that it was in fact Mother’s Day and I was in line for some serious pampering.
“I know,” the boy replied with a lot of enthusiasm. “It’s Saint Columba’s Day!”
I shook my head and replied, not quite realising I was pitching above their level, “It’s another saint’s day. The greatest saint of all. It’s Saint Mammy’s Day.”
They looked at me, confused. The boy just shook his head. “There is no such saint as Saint Mammy,” he said, disgusted.
“Are you saying I’m not a saint?” I teased and he gave me a look as if to say I was gone in the head to even think about comparing myself to a saint.
“Ah but mammy...” he said, as if my unsaintliness needed no further explanation - and with that shrug of his nine year-old shoulders I knew that Mother’s Day has not yet factored in to my children’s radar.
I have to say. I have an issue with this whole Mother’s Day carry on - and it’s not what you might think. I know around this time there will be a myriad of people (let’s call them Bah Humbugs for the sake of argument) who say they don’t need a special day to tell their loved one what they think of them.
These are the same people who ignore Valentine’s Day with gusto and who refuse to ever buy cards for any occasion, declaring them a glorious waste of money.
But in my very humble opinion Mother’s Day is the one big Hallmark created event which we all should embrace, because while we don’t technically need a day to tell our mammies we love them, it really doesn’t hurt to force us, every now and again to stop and say thank you, does it?
I hate to sound all “woe is the mammy brigade” about it, but by my reckoning mammies are among the most underappreciated bunch of people in the world.
The fact is for the most of the time, us mammies just get on with whatever life (and sick children) throw at us all in the name of maternal instinct. This last week my Facebook timeline, for example, has been filled with mammies posting about their sick children, and their sleepless nights staying up with them, about feeding and weaning, about doing the homework and making sure the football kits are clean. It’s been filled with stories of messes made and cleaned up, proud posts from parent teacher meetings, and pictures of smiling kids up to their eyes in paint or Play Doh or other messy, wonderful, fun stuff.
The daddies I know? Well, you get a few proud posts now and then but you are more likely to garner an emotional laden status update about the football than what their child has been up to.
This is not a sexist rant. I’m not belittling the role fathers play or saying that they don’t pitch in - but what I am saying is that in the majority of cases it is the woman who takes on the lion share of the responsibility for parenting, especially in those early years.
And us mammies, we don’t often expect much in return. Quite honestly the best thanks we can ever receive for a job well done is for our children to be happy and settled in whatever they are up to - but still, once a day a year to say thank you really wouldn’t hurt?
And in case I have been slack on my own part in the last wee while, I’ll selfishly use these column inches to tell my own mother how much she means to me - and how I appreciate everything she did and still does for me.
Be it acting as an unofficial childminder when the husband and I’s work schedules clash with the children’s pick-up times, or making sure there is a dinner on the table for me when I come to pick them up after a long day at work, to always insisting on picking up the bill if we go for lunch together or to just being there when I need someone to cry/ laugh/ complain with - my mammy has a heart of gold.
No Hallmark card or bunch of flowers would be enough to tell her how she makes my life richer or easier or just lovelier by being in it. If I had my way Mother’s Day would indeed be renamed just in her honour and I would make sure everyone knew she was a Saint.
So if your mammy is your someone special, make sure you let her know. Give her an extra big hug if you can. If she’s not still with you offer her an extra wee prayer and remember the good times.
Remember all your mammy went through to bring you into the world and raise you and make you who you are. Sure we’d be lost without our mammies, wouldn’t we?