March is a special month for me.
Firstly, for me, 1st March really signifies Spring and as someone who suffers pretty bad from from SAD and is definitely miserable during Winter months, the thought that the sun and Summer are on their way is joyful! March is also my Mum's birthday and we always like to make a fuss of her. It's the month of an Anniversary of two special little girls. And it's also Mother's Day in March, which now I'm older is more special than the days of just trying to remember to buy a gift for my Mum. Now that day signifies a busy TLKC studio with a peak in orders, handmade gifts of love from my own little ones and a time to put my feet up and take the mick out of Jason! "it's my day!"
A friend of mine lost her Mum a couple of weeks ago and I spared a thought for her the other day, that this would be her first Mother's Day without her. As ever, the sensitivities around the days we celebrate for many with TLKC, come to the fore when we remember those for whom such days are painful. For me, as a young girl without my Dad present, it was always Father's Day that felt cruel. Then as I got older and struggling wanting a child, it was Mother's Day that was painful. That sensitivity has never left me and I'm acutely aware that everything we promote or talk about can potentially have an adverse effect on others struggling at any one time. You have to be really really careful.
Last week another friend who lost her beloved Mum some time ago, applauded Superdrug for mailing customers asking if they would like to be deleted from the database to avoid receiving Mother's Day eshots. I agreed with her that this was a super sensitive and wonderful idea and I decided we should ask the same of our customers. It went down fabulously well with our customers.
A dozen or so people opted out of the Mother's Day email, so it was warming to think we had done the right thing. However, we also received more than a dozen emails or texts congratulating us for our sensitivity and thoughtfulness, which was very warming indeed.
It struck me that such 'celebrations' really are a sensitive time for some, whether they are going through tough times right now or not, many of us can appreciate that others may be.
I used to laugh off the pain of Father's Day and not having my Dad in my life by joking 'I love that I save money on a card, I could do without the hassle of having to try to remember it!' It was a lie. Save money and hassle I might, but I still wished I could have felt the warm arms around me.
It stopped hurting when I had children of my own and I could channel my energy and love into 'daddy' gifts which meant so much. I love Father's Day now, but still appreciate life's circumstances can make it feel uncomfortable for others. Life isn't made of templates and cut outs. Our lives are all different. We aren't all the same.
This really struck a cord the other day when a wonderful infographic was posted by @moomysmilk showing what made a Mum. I Immediately loved it!
The more I studied it the more bizarre but wonderful it felt. I've always thought of myself as quite 'normal' - a little wacky now and then - but quite normal. Yet when I looked at the sketches of different types of Mums who may not themselves feel like a true Mum, or indeed may be made to feel by others in society that they are not a true Mum, I ticked 6 out of 12 boxes! Yet I was proud to. We are not picture perfect stereotypes, how things 'should be', what the text books say, or what society tells us we should be. We are our own people, all Mumming along, bringing up our families in the best way we know how and in the circumstances that life threw us. And boy we should all be proud.
There are sooo many variants that makes someone a Mum. I actually found myself Googling the definition this morning and read the Cambridge English Dictionary: The entry 'Mum' leads you to the definition for 'Mother' which then leads you to 'Female Parent' - and 'Parent' leads you back to the definition for 'Mother or Father of a person or animal'.
Nowhere does it say 'Woman only whose vagina the child came out of after having intercourse when her egg was fertilised by sperm, and that then fed said child immediately from the breast and thereafter fed and nurtured until they were deemed an adult.'
It absolutely did not.
If it did it would discount Foster and Adoptive Mums, Step Mums, Mums who conceived through IVF, those who had a C-section, Mums who tube fed or bottle fed their babies, those whose babies were so poorly they spent their first weeks or months in hospital, Gay couple, Mums who sadly lost their babies through miscarriage or complications in birth, or indeed those who have been Mums but have suffered bereavement. In fact I'm sure, whilst this list is already extensive, there will be others to add.
So to answer what makes a mum?
It seems to me that there are a hell of a lot of people who can and should expect notes and gifts of love this Mother’s Day that may lead others to wonder why. Mums are not just those who we see have given birth to the little tyke at their feet or young person by their side. Many of our babies, children and young people are being raised, nurtured, and guided through this tough old life by a variety of different shaped and styled Mums who wholly deserve to feel their contribution is valued, their love is real and their role acknowledged.
'Square pegs don't fit into round holes but we can all fit into a mothering role.'
Over the next few weeks in the run up to Mothering Sunday, Helen will be talking to a number of Mums about what they think makes a Mum so look out for the interviews. If you would like to contribute to this feature please email firstname.lastname@example.org
#mymumrocks #whatmakesamum #mylovelykeepsake
source: @moomysmilk for illustration via FB