Happy Mother’s Day – Vanessa’s Blog25 March 2022
This Sunday will be celebrated in the UK as mothering Sunday, while most of the rest of the world, celebrate Mother’s Day in May. So I’ve been thinking about motherhood and what that means to me.
I became a mum for the first time, not through my biological children, but through my three stepchildren. I was in my early twenties and was thrown into the deep end, suddenly having a role in the lives of two teenagers and a seven-year-old. They visited at weekends, half terms and school holidays and the youngest lived in my household for about two years. I was required to help with homework, keep them fed and watered and also dispense discipline – or not!
I became part of the ‘club’ of mothers, who all share similar experiences, but at first without the angst and sense of being out of control that I later felt. I grew to love my stepchildren deeply and we now share a special bond. They have given me my first 4 grandchildren who bring me endless joy and I love being a Nana!
Then, in my late twenties, I gave birth to my first child and my second in my early thirties and it was and still is an experience like no other. The love is all consuming and the sense of responsibility I felt then at having to shape these human beings into responsible, law abiding, balanced and happy adults scared the living daylights out of me!
I learnt and am still learning so much about myself. Once the sleep deprivation and frustrations of the baby and toddler stage were over, there was the school stage and worrying about whether they were fitting in and making friends, coping academically, eating right (I had a picky eater) involved in enough extra-curricular activities to make them well-rounded individuals, and were they even in the right schools that suited their needs? The questions, second guessing and missteps were endless. But eventually they got through primary, secondary and tertiary education and are now model citizens. We have a great relationship and I love them beyond measure. They tell me I am a great mum (pats self on back) who is loving and supportive, tough but fair. I am thankful!
But this brings me to the question of what really is motherhood? Because you see, on my journey, I have mothered others and have seen other forms of motherhood that are equally important. Some of my children’s friends call me Mama Johnson because I provide an ear (and food) when needed and have advocated for them with their parents/school/authorities at various times. Then there are my nieces, nephews and God children who I am Auntie and support to, there as another adult that they can count on, that too is a form of mothering.
I have friends who have struggled with infertility and chose to foster or adopt. Other friends who have had to step in and raise their siblings’ children. Friends/siblings who have chosen to remain childless but to be great aunts/moms instead, others who have lost their children, but remain mothers, grandmothers who have had to raise their grandchildren as well, and yet others raising children on their own. We are all doing our best to ensure that we raise children who will leave the world in a better state than they found it.
Whether going it alone or raising children with a spouse or partner, it truly takes a village to raise a child. So why not carpool with another parent at your child’s school or nursery? How about that childless couple next door, why not invite them to your child’s birthday party? Half-term activities and trips can also be shared. Taking all the necessary precautions of course, you can share resources/help with others thus lightening the load for all parties.
Becoming a mother for all of us meant joining a unique group of women who live similar experiences and understand the challenges/struggles, joys and pride of motherhood. Everyone’s route may have been different, but we are no less mothers. Someone described it as ‘otherhood’, but I don’t think we need a distinction. The commonality of motherhood means that no matter your route to or form of parenting, you will do it in your own unique way and be the better for it.
Self becomes secondary for a time, fear/guilt become your constant companions and you wear so many hats that you sometimes wonder just who you are. Counsellor, referee, chef, diplomat, housekeeper, finder of lost things, chauffeur, trainer, villain, banker, cleaner, project support officer, social schedular/secretary/PA, nurse, storyteller, juggler, coach, cheerleader, font of knowledge and so much more is included in our role. But we relish them all because the rewards are priceless.
So, to mothering Sunday then; a day when many women will be celebrated, I acknowledge that it can also be a day of pain for some. The day can prove to be triggering for those who for different reasons are not able to care for their children, so a little sensitivity is needed.
Spare a thought then for those who won’t be feeling great on Sunday. Those who did not have particularly good examples as mothers, those who have lost their children, those whose mothers are no longer here and those who are childless not by choice but circumstance. We are thinking of you. You are a part of our sisterhood!
For those who will be celebrating, enjoy your day! Motherhood is an integral part of my journey and I continue to relish this honour and gift. I was blessed to be raised by a great Mama and many auntie/mamas and I dedicate this day to them.
To the mothers of SIG and throughout the UK, Happy Mother’s Day!
© 2022, MG Vanessa Johnson