Unless you've been under a rock for the past few weeks, you will have realised that Sunday 30th March was "Mother's Day" or to give it it's traditional original UK name - "Mothering Sunday". Originally a religious celebration - it always falls on the fourth Sunday in lent, and its traditions have nothing to do with "Mums" and everything to do with people returning to their Mother Church on that day each year - domestic servants would be given a day off for the purpose, and this is where the link to family comes in as in a lot of cases this would be the one day in each year when the whole family could worship together. Young people who were in service would pick wildflowers on their way back home, which they would place in the church - as time moved on this evolved into the flowers being presented to their own mothers, and there you have the reason why it's now seen as a day to give gifts to your mother.
As a family we have never marked Mother's Day at all, and would never have marked Mothering Sunday as we're not religious. My Mum explained to me when I was very small that she would far rather than I did something nice for her randomly, as a surprise, during the year, than on one specific day in the year when I felt that I "ought to" - to me, that makes perfect sense too - and if I'd been in any doubt as to the logic of that, it would have been confirmed when I went into town on friday afternoon. Everywhere signs telling people "Not to forget" Mother's Day (surely if it was that important to them, they wouldn't be in danger of forgetting anyway?) but more notably, the clusters of people wearing worried, slightly put-upon expressions, and complaining that they "had to" get something for their Mums. How on earth is going out with that attitude showing ANY form of respect to the person who has brought you up, nurtured you, and made you into the person you are today. Hang on though, maybe that has something to do with the attitudes? Hmmm.
As a child, I remember sitting in class watching while everyone else was instructed to make their mum a Mother's Day card. I drew a picture instead I think - I was determined enough even then to take note of what my Mum said she wanted that I wasn't going to join in, in spite of being told that I was wrong not to! It was hard feeling that I was the odd one out, I must admit, but even then the number of people I remember complaining about it stood out to be as being entirely counter to the idea of the day as it was intended. Since then I've regularly encountered people being absolutely astonished when I'd had cause to explain that as a family, we don't celebrate the day. In fact, the first person I came across who simply accepted it was MrEH - and oddly enough he was also the first person I'd come across outside my own family whose family also didn't celebrate it!
Of course these days, the "hype" for want of a better word, around this day has become almost entirely commercial - pretty much anything out there can be wrapped up in a "Mother's Day" wrapper in order to sell more, and is. From Supermarkets persuading you to buy flowers & chocolates, to cosmetic companies suggesting that "All your Mum wants for Mothers Day..." is a pot of their miracle cream. It's come a long way from that lovingly and tenderly gathered bunch of wildflowers, hasn't it?
The people I feel that the whole thing must be hardest on are those who've lost their Mums, particularly children who have lost their Mum unexpectedly. How difficult must it be to be surrounded by posters and banners exhorting you to "buy this" or "Book a table for lunch" or "Treat your Mum to..." when all you can think on is that you no longer have a Mum to do those things for? It used to be that the toughest days were always birthdays, Christmas, perhaps another special day like your parents wedding anniversary - now though there is another day where even if you might want to, you're unable to escape from the harsh reality of the situation. Grieving is a very personal, and private thing, and yet a sort of "public day of mourning" is forced on people whether they feel able to cope, or not.
I'm not suggesting for one moment that those that wish to celebrate Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents Day or whatever other family member's day the card companies will choose to focus on next should not be able to do so. How about, though, starting a drift back towards something a little more traditional, individual even - a little more focused on love, and respect, and appreciation, than on a big card and a gift. How about doing something on a day of YOUR choosing, rather than on the same day as everyone else? As for those of us who choose NOT to celebrate it - try to remember that this is our choice, and the choice of our Mums, and they have every much right to having their views respected as your Mum does.
As for the flower pics in this post - these are for MY Mum, nothing to do with Mother's Day, but just because you're you, and I appreciate you for that, 365 days of the year.
ps - Thanks to my Mum for the interesting web-link that set me off learning more about this subject!