First published in the Eyre Peninsula Tribune, May 7th, 2009.
When I got a phone call asking to write this week’s editorial about Mothers day, I was sitting on my couch, cradling my 7 year old son. He’s seriously ill and in an enormous amount of pain, but at least we are out of hospital now. He is too afraid to move and he just wants a cuddle from his mummy. Deep down, I know that he will recover, but that doesn’t make it any easier, right now. If I thought it would help I’d donate a kidney, or amputate my left leg or something, anything, just to make him better. But I know it won’t help, so instead I hold him and whisper gently that he’ll be better soon.
My house is a mess and there have been varying degrees of food in the cupboard. I’ve had to miss work, drive long journeys, sleep on all manner of uncomfortable furniture and sometimes not sleep at all. I do this because I am a mother and it is my instinct to do anything to protect my child. And during this time, there has been all manner of other mothers, supporting me, offering to donate kidneys and left legs and even shoulders to cry on. They’ve been here before.
I recall my grandmother telling me about how she nursed my own mother and uncle through measles. Telling me how she had to boil the bed sheets in the copper. How there was no treatment for the fever except for a damp face cloth. And she knew that all the other mothers in the street were doing exactly the same thing – and they were there for each other. Times might have changed since my grandmother’s day – we have washing machines with hot water on tap, vaccinations and paracetamol. But we still have other mothers, who are a valuable resource to us all. They hold the experience and wisdom that we don’t yet have. And even when they don’t, they have strong shoulders and gentle arms.
So many of us isolate ourselves from these important women. Whether through fear of being judged or plain stubbornness, we try to carry on alone, trying to be strong, trying to do it all. Real mothers know that true strength comes in numbers – in sharing the load. Mothers know the importance of an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on.
This week, the Australian Breastfeeding Association is celebrating National Mothering Week for the 30th year in a row. This year’s theme is Mum2Mum – across the generations – from grandmothers to mothers to daughters to granddaughters. Take some time this Mothers Day to think about how much mothering has actually stayed the same over the generations. It’s no harder or easier with our modern gadgets – it’s just different.
Thanks to all the mothers out there. Have a great Mothers Day. Enjoy the luke warm tea, the burnt toast and the painted macaroni necklace. This day is for you.